Intel's Preemptive Strike - Pentium 4 Extreme Edition

As we announced at last week's Intel Developer Forum, Intel preempted AMD's 64 launch with a release of their own - the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition.

The Extreme Edition is a 169 million transistor Pentium 4, currently running at 3.20GHz (800MHz FSB) with Hyper-Threading support, and featuring a 2MB on-die L3 cache in addition to the standard 512KB on-die L2 cache.

The point of adding such a large L3 cache is to basically give the Pentium 4 as many of the benefits of an on-die memory controller, without actually integrating one. Intel is weary of the on-die memory controller approach, simply because of the horrible experience they had with attempting to push the market in the direction of RDRAM 4 years ago; thus a large L3 cache is the next best option.

A large L3 cache helps to hide the overall memory latency by keeping more frequently used data in the L3 cache, and Intel chose the size of the cache very wisely. For example, a single frame of DVD quality video can't fit into a 1MB cache but a 2MB cache is more than enough to store it. The vertex buffer data in most modern day games also happens to fit quite nicely in the 2MB that Intel chose for the Extreme Edition (EE).

Intel is toying with the idea of releasing an Extreme Edition version of every high-end Pentium 4 (e.g. Prescott 3.40GHz Extreme Edition), however nothing is set in stone yet. We have already passed along the information that an Extreme Edition processor would truly be worthy of the name if Intel would unlock the processors, allowing overclockers to freely push their processors. In order to combat remarking, we also passed along the suggestion that only lower multipliers be made available.

Both of these suggestions were provided by AnandTech readers and were very well received by Intel, it may take some time but we may be able to get the chip-giant to budge on this one.

The Pentium 4 3.2 EE will be available in the next month or two and will sell for around $740 in 1,000 unit quantities. The processor will work in all current motherboards, most of which will not require a BIOS update.

The Test

We used nForce3 boards from ASUS (Socket-940) and Shuttle (Socket-754) to keep our Athlon 64 vs. Athlon 64 FX numbers as comparable as possible. All systems were configured with 512MB of DDR400 SDRAM and used ATI Radeon 9800 Pro 256MB cards with the latest Catalyst 3.7 drivers.

Where is the software? Memory Latency & Bandwidth Performance


View All Comments

  • Anonymous User - Thursday, September 25, 2003 - link

    The Athlon64 FX doesn't have a multiplier lock either, but we never saw any results from that. Also I don't think a chip overclocking well means it's designed for "higher clock speeds". Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, September 25, 2003 - link

    toms just revised their review, "Update Sept 24,2003: Unfortunately we have made a mistake in the original article: In addition to the official P4 EE 3.2GHz we had included benchmark scores of the P4 Extreme 3.4GHz and 3.6GHz. These values were planned for a future THG article and were not intended to be included here. We would like to apologize especially to those readers who misinterpreted our charts. The two bars of the P4 Extreme 3.4GHz and 3.6GHz have now been removed. However, this issue does not affect our conclusion as we have only compared the official P4 3.2GHz EE to all other test candidates in our original article. For your information: The press sample of the P4 Extreme provided by Intel does not have a multiplier lock and is already designed for higher clock speeds. " Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, September 25, 2003 - link

    I also question why toms have a review to overclock P4 3.2 EE to 3.6 to win every performance chart. Is it fair to AMD? I like Intel CPU but I also like fair review.
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, September 25, 2003 - link

    AMD needs to almost give this thing away so that it can sell well thus attracting a flood of 64 big developers. I think they should even do this to the detriment of their profit margins because if this doesnt sell well then all the software wont be developed. Its kinda like the chicken and the egg here and I think AMD should take a beating now in terms of $ to get this thing out and get 64 bit in the hands of the people. If everyone has it the software will follow. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, September 25, 2003 - link

    Logic dictates that people whom use the term "fanboy" are mentally disturbed persons whom feel the need to categorize others into a certain group to make themselves feel better. On a side note though I think the Athlon64 3200+ is winner given its current availability, price, and performance. I’m just curious as to how far AMD hopes to scale the processor for the remainder of the year as though I already know there will be a 3400+ release in short time, I am wondering if there will be a 3600+ release in anticipation of Prescott. I’m also curious as to how quickly AMD will transition it to 90nm as I’m thinking one of the main reasons AMD hasn’t really made full effort in mass producing K8 processors are the manufacturing costs at 130nm. Either way it’s nice to see such a chip out, especially at the price it is being quoted for (though it seems some people are having fits that they can’t buy A64s for $100). Reply
  • Anonymous User - Thursday, September 25, 2003 - link

    I think Intel is faring pretty well considering that AMD has reduced latency four fold with its integrated memory controller, incresed transistor performance by %30 with SOI, and doubled cache to 1MB. I think Intel will only close the gap with the upcomng Prescott but will pull ahead with LGA 775 Prescott and Grantsdale with PCI Express. Fanboys, save your speeches. Argue with logic. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, September 24, 2003 - link

    When is somebody going to come up with "folding" for people. We could use all the extra time people have on their hands debating what chip is better, to access their brain power to come up with cures for world hunger, A.I.D.S and introducing fanboys to fangirls. That being said, I appreciate all your opinions in helping me decide what chip to buy. Taking in to account the proccesing power I need for work and play, I have decided to buy an Xbox and a typewriter and forgo the 64 or P4EE. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, September 24, 2003 - link

    THIS FANBOY CRAP HAS TO STOP HOW NERDY CAN U BE??i am glad i am not so much into computers as most of u ;) if one of these companies go out of business u see the survivor amd or intel making poor performing cpu's sold for $$$$ with a "take it of leave it" attitude...QUIT THE FANBOY CRAP truth is these companies don't give a shite about you only that little friend in your pocket that holds ur money Reply
  • sprockkets - Wednesday, September 24, 2003 - link

    The PM people believe that since they see the current situation in that Intel pays everyone not to use AMD, and that makes them a niche market. It's not due to AMD being slower or more error prone. Let's face it, Intel is bigger and has more to deal with, but as I've said before, they also can waste millions, perhaps a billion or so on Itanium and it's going nowhere. Perhaps it will now, but it's pretty stupid to see why. Sure it doesn't suffer from x86 legacy code. But look at what it took to get there, redoing software, apps, hardware, and a huge 400mm die. The Alpha people look to turn it into something, but that's alpha that made it something, otherwise it sucks.

    It's pretty stupid to argue here that the P4 3.2 ghz is faster or the emergency (good one :) ) edition is, the Xenon or even Itanium architecture with the cpus sharing a FSB and memory via a hub or northbridge architecture sucks compared to the hyper transport architecture the Opteron uses, and no amount of clock speed or memory speed is going to change that.

    I wonder if Intel can now use it's own Itaniums instead of Alphas to run it's chip production line.
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, September 24, 2003 - link

    #91, That would be an expected outcome when half the tests are media/encoding benchmarks which are optimized for HT/SSE2. Not that there is anything wrong with that, just a simple note. Reply

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