With the introduction last week of the Socket 478 Prescott, we now have no less than three 3.2 GHz Pentium 4 processors from Intel. As we move toward the expected April 2004 introduction of Socket 775 and a new revised Prescott, we will be including compatibility testing of the 3.2E and 3.2EE, in addition to the 3.2C in future Pentium 4 motherboard and system reviews. With 3 flavors of 3.2GHz P4, 3 different architectures, and potentially different performance, all benchmarks needed to be updated to allow a reasonable comparison of current and future benchmark results. The results of the updated tests were so interesting that we decided to publish the results. Some of the results are already well-known, but other results like Workstation Performance were a bit of a surprise.

This is not intended to be an in-depth review of the new Prescott processor; Anand published a definitive review of Prescott at launch. For an in-depth look at Prescott and a comparison to AMD processors, you should read Anand's Intel's Pentium 4 E: Prescott Arrives with Luggage. The scope of this article is much more basic - to update our standard suite of Motherboard Benchmarks with the 3.2C, 3.2EE, and 3.2E on the same Asus P4C800-E motherboard.

While the three 3.2GHz processors from Intel all run at the same clock speed, they are quite different under the hood.

 3.2GHz Pentium 4 Processors
   3.2C  3.2EE  3.2E
Name Northwood Extreme Edition Prescott
CPU Speed 3.2GHz 3.2GHz 3.2GHz
L1 Cache 8k Data Cache +
12k instruction cache
8k Data Cache +
12k instruction cache
16k Data Cache +
12k instruction cache
L2 Cache 512kb 512kb 1MB
L3 Cache - 2MB
Core .13µ .13µ .09µ
Socket Type 478 478 478
Memory Type Dual-Channel Unbuffered DDR Dual-Channel Unbuffered DDR Dual-Channel Unbuffered DDR
Bus Speed 800 800 800
Web Price 2/10/2004 Retail $289 Retail $957 ?
(Projected $289)

We could not yet find the new 3.2E available for sale anywhere, but Intel has priced the 3.2E the same as the 3.2C. When it does arrive, the prices should be about the same as Northwood. To keep value in perspective, the Prescott and Northwood will sell for about the same price, while the P4EE is more than 3 times that price.

Performance Test: Configuration
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  • TrogdorJW - Thursday, February 12, 2004 - link

    Pumpkinierre, I think you are totally wrong on the cause of the Prescott slowdowns. Without getting technical, let me just assure you that it has pretty much everything to do with the 31 stage pipeline in the Prescott compared to the 20 stage pipeline in the Northwood (and P4EE).

    The larger cache can help the Prescott overcome the effects of the long pipeline, but in certain types of code, you're basically screwed. Even the branch prediction can't help in some instances. Say a program has a lot of branches, and they're spread over a large enough area that the predictor can't track all of them. If you "overflow" the size of the branch prediction table, then the penalties of the longer pipeline are going to become very apparent.

    It appears that games are quite capable of doing this, and Comanche 4 in particular seems to have a lot of unpredictable branch code. Really, though, who cares? Comanche 4? I tried it, and thought it was pretty lame. At least UT2K3 and Q3 are pretty fun to play, even if they're old now.
  • johnsonx - Thursday, February 12, 2004 - link

    Cram says the P4 EE (aka the Piss-4 Enema Edition, according to Cram) is a $1000 pipe dream. Lets compare, shall we, using prices from NewEgg:

    Socket 478 Mainboard, ABit IC7: $119
    Intel P4 EE 3.2Ghz: $880
    2x512Mb PC3200, Corsair: $155


    Socket 940 Mainboard, ASUS: $205
    AMD Athlon64 FX-51: $733
    2x512Mb PC3200 Registered, Corsair: $258

    TOTAL PRICE FOR A64 FX-51: $1196

    Why is the P4EE more of a "$1000 pipe dream" than the FX-51? The P4EE is actually a touch cheaper, plus the board and ram are both standard types which many people may already have; with the FX-51, it all has to be purchased new yet will soon be obsolete.

    Seems to me the FX-51 in it's current form is just silly... perhaps even a $1200 pipe dream.

    None of this has much to do with the article these comments are supposed to be referring to, but Cram's comments never do either...
  • Pumpkinierre - Thursday, February 12, 2004 - link

    The p4 northwood IS a good gaming chip. The equivalent a64 doesnt beat it in some games and only by < 10% in the others. If AT had included a stock cooled o'clocked 2.4c@3.2 in these benchmarks (and I believe they've got a good one in the cupboard) the story would be a lot different. The big problem here is Prescott. It's too hot to o'clock sanely with standard air and stock, it underperforms Northwood which has half the cache. Why? Is the fpu a dog? Is the double sized cache slower latency-wise? From all reports its both.
    Comanche4 gives it away- generally regarded as a cpu intensive benchmark. The p4 EE is the same as the Northwood up to the L2 cache but the P4EE has 2Mb of L3 which lowers memory latency in some apps. cf. to Northwood. So the difference in performance, 3.2c vs 3.2EE, cant be fpu related but must be dependent on memory sub system latency The same lowering of memory latency can be achieved by o'clocking a 2.4c. In the case of the Prescott you cant do this because of the heat, you are just stuck with a dog!

    I think 512K L2/8K L1 caches is the optimum for gaming with the P4. Northwood is the better gaming and enthusiast P4 as well as still the best all round cpu (coolness, reliability, compatibility and M'board support). Prescott is relegated to workstation/encoding where sse3/HT play a bigger part and o'clocking/tweaking/ reliability are'nt of great importance. A poor fate for the P4 where Prescott should have been its crowning glory.
  • PrinceGaz - Thursday, February 12, 2004 - link

    The article pretty much confirms my gut feeling about Prescott after reading all the reviews on NDA day, which is that its every bit as good as the Northwood for non-gamers if you aren't going to overclock it and therefore not concerned with heat.

    As the Northwood is still considerably behind the A64 in all gaming type applications, its a non-issue that the Prescott is slower than the Northwood for games as no gamer would consider buying either anyway. As for the P4EE, systems built using it will only be purchased by those where cost isn't a concern -- I can't see many people who build their own box actually opting for it over an A64 (gamers) or P4 'E' (DVD-rippers).

    Please don't mock Cram..., he may actually believe some of what he spouts and it sure gives me a good giggle whenever I get to read any of it (before mods delete it) :)
  • Icewind - Thursday, February 12, 2004 - link

    Athlon 64 is just looking better and better every day.

    Can't wait to upgrade this summer.
  • cliffa3 - Thursday, February 12, 2004 - link

    when anand publishes his article on how his mac experience goes, that's still going to be the "bottomline" according to cram...can we get a feature that auto-posts that as a comment to each new article to save him the trouble?.
  • CRAMITPAL - Thursday, February 12, 2004 - link


    Prescott SUCKS and PEEEEEE is a $1000 Pipe Dream.

    Only a fool...
  • araczynski - Thursday, February 12, 2004 - link

    Great article, very usefull and to the point.

    Good job :)
  • tfranzese - Thursday, February 12, 2004 - link

    Nice article and I'm glad you guys went ahead and published it as is. I just wish I did encoding - then I'd have a good reason to put together an Intel system. I may just do it for fun someday to compliment my other boxes.

    Can you guys please included distributed.net RC5 crunching benchmarks? I would like to see that and benchmarks of overclocked Prescotts vs. overclocked Northwoods to better see the scaling @ 3.4/3.6 GHz and how big a gap will start to form.

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