AMD Athlon 64 & Athlon 64 FX - It's Judgment Dayby Anand Lal Shimpi on September 23, 2003 1:25 PM EST
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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.
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.