Intel's move to their 65nm process has gone extremely well.  We've had 65nm Presler, Cedar Mill and Yonah samples for the past couple of months now and they have been just as good as final, shipping silicon.  Just a couple of months ago we previewed Intel's 65nm Pentium 4 and showcased their reduction in power consumption as well as took an early look at overclocking potential of the chips. 

Intel's 65nm Pentium 4s will be the last Pentium 4s to come out of Santa Clara and while we'd strongly suggest waiting to upgrade until we've seen what Conroe will bring us, there are those who can't wait another six months, and for those who are building or buying systems today, we need to find out if Intel's 65nm Pentium 4 processors are any more worthwhile than the rather disappointing chips that we had at 90nm. 

The move to 90nm for Intel was highly anticipated, but it could not have been any more disappointing from a performance standpoint.  In a since abandoned quest for higher clock speeds, Intel brought us Prescott at 90nm with its 31 stage pipeline - up from 20 stages in the previous generation Pentium 4s.  Through some extremely clever and effective engineering, Prescott actually wasn't any slower than its predecessors, despite the increase in pipeline stages.  What Prescott did leave us with, however, was a much higher power bill.  Deeply pipelined processors generally consume a lot more power, and Prescott did just that. 

Intel tried to minimize the negative effects of Prescott as much as possible through technologies like their Enhanced Intel SpeedStep (EIST).  However, at the end of the day, the fastest Athlon 64 consumed less power under full load than the slowest Prescott at idle.  Considering that most PCs actually spend the majority of their time idling, this was truly a letdown from Intel. 

With 65nm, the architecture of the chips won't change at all - in fact, the single-core 65nm Pentium 4s based on the Cedar Mill core will be identical to the current Pentium 4 600 series that we have today (with the inclusion of Intel's Virtualization Technology).  So with no architectural changes, the power consumption at 65nm should be lower than at 90nm.  As we found in our first article on Intel's 65nm chips, power consumption did indeed go down quite a bit; however, it's still not low enough to be better than AMD.  It will take Conroe before Intel can offer a desktop processor with lower power consumption than AMD's 90nm Athlon 64 line. 

In an odd move, just before the end of 2005, Intel is introducing their first 65nm processor.  Not the Cedar Mill based Pentium 4 and not even the Presler based Pentium D, but rather the Presler based Pentium Extreme Edition 955. 

The Presler core is Intel's dual-core 65nm successor to Smithfield, which as you will remember was Intel's first dual-core processor.  Presler does actually offer one architectural improvement over Smithfield and that is the use of a 2MB L2 cache per core, up from 1MB per core in Smithfield.  Other than that, Presler is pretty much a die-shrunk version of Smithfield. 

With 2MB cache on each core, the transistor count of Presler has gone up a bit.  While Smithfield weighed in at a whopping 230M transistors, Presler is now up to 376M.  The move to 65nm has actually made the chip smaller at 162 mm2, down from 206 mm2.  With a smaller die size, Presler is actually cheaper for Intel to make than Smithfield, despite having twice the cache.  Equally impressive is that Cedar Mill, the single core version, measures in at a meager 81 mm2

The Extreme Edition incarnation of Presler brings back support for the 1066MHz FSB, which you may remember was lost with the original move to dual-core.  Given that both cores on the chip have to share the same bus, more FSB bandwidth will always help performance.

The Pentium Extreme Edition 955 runs at 3.46GHz (1066MHz FSB), thus giving it a clock speed advantage over all of Intel's other dual-core processors.  And as always, the EE chip offers Hyper Threading support on each of its two cores allowing the chip to handle a maximum of four threads at the same time.  Since it's an Extreme Edition chip, the 955 will be priced at $999.  If you're curious about the cheaper, non-Extreme versions of Presler, here is Intel's 65nm dual-core roadmap for 2006:

Intel Dual Core Desktop
CPU Core Clock FSB L2 Cache
??? Conroe ??? ??? 4MB
??? Conroe ??? ??? 2MB
950 Presler 3.4GHz 800MHz 2x2MB
940 Presler 3.2GHz 800MHz 2x2MB
930 Presler 3.0GHz 800MHz 2x2MB
920 Presler 2.8GHz 800MHz 2x2MB

As you can see, the Extreme Edition 955 will be the first, but definitely not the only dual-core 65nm processor out in the near future, so don't let the high price tag worry you. The remaining 900 series Pentium D chips should come with prices much closer to the equivalent 800 series.

Power Consumption and The Test


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  • yacoub - Tuesday, January 3, 2006 - link


    The Athlon 64 X2 4800+ actually is faster in the Splinter Cell: CT benchmark without anything else running, but here we see a very different story. Although its 66 fps average frame rate is reasonably competitive with the Presler HT system, its minimum frame rate is barely over 10 fps - approximately 1/3 that of the Presler HT.

    Yet no mention of the Max, where the 4800+ utterly trounces the two Intel chips. Does Max not matter (in which case why bother listing it), or does it matter but you just neglected to mention that (whether on purpose or by accident)?
  • jjunk - Tuesday, January 3, 2006 - link


    Yet no mention of the Max, where the 4800+ utterly trounces the two Intel chips. Does Max not matter (in which case why bother listing it), or does it matter but you just neglected to mention that (whether on purpose or by accident)?

    It's right there in the chart. As for further discussion not really necessary. Screaming frame rates might look good on the chart but they don't help game play. A 10 fps min will definately be noticiable.
  • IntelUser2000 - Sunday, January 1, 2006 - link


    When we do receive the new motherboard, we will take a look at power consumption once more to get an idea of the final state of Intel's 65nm power consumption, but until then, we don't want to draw any conclusions based on what we've seen.

    I don't like that paragraph. It makes it sound like 65nm will be all that makes Presler in power consumption. It will also make people judge 65nm based on Presler, since that's the first CPU on the 65nm.

    In fact its not that simple. Taking a CPU that's on a certain process like the Smithfield and putting on a smaller process won't mean instant 40-50% decrease in power consumption. That's called the dumb shrink. The reason Northwood had significantly lower power than Willamette was because Northwood was optimized to lower power consumption.

    A CPU that runs well at 130nm may do bad at 90nm and even worse at 65nm for example. Presler was said to be not Intel's main focus and Intel moved their design teams to Conroe, so people who's supposed to be optimizing Presler for 65nm all went away and Presler was just done a dumb shrink.

    Sleep transistor was an optional feature on 65nm, not required. So Presler may not have it.
  • IntelUser2000 - Monday, January 2, 2006 - link

    Why use DDR2-667 with 5-5-5-15 timings?? Most DDR2-667 can do 4-4-4-8(around there). This is gonna skew the results in AMD's favor as DDR400 used is the lowest latency possible.

    In reality nobody is gonna use DDR400 at 2-2-2-7 lateny or DDR2-667 at 4-4-4-8 latency. Nobody I have ever heard in outside internet uses the RAM at those timings.

    Anandtech should either benchmark them all at JEDEC timings or use them all with low latency. I understand they want to be sure the new test system to work properly, but using low latency RAM for the comparison system is just not fair.

    JEDEC timings for DDR400 is 3-3-3-8. Where are your DDR400 advantage over DDR2 now??
  • hans007 - Sunday, January 1, 2006 - link

    i think that the 9xx series is a big improvement over the 8xx.

    i have an 8xx myself the 820 which is the lowest power. the leakage is exponential so the 955 is going to draw a much highe ramount than say a 920 will.

    i bet the 920 will be a half decent cpu drawing maybe only 70 watts. which isnt TOO terrible in the grand scheme of power. the 920 would only run at 2.8 ghz and have not as high leakage percentage so i think it will be the one to get.

    true intel is not better yet, but they are getting there. and their dual cores still cost less.

    i also think that intel should be commended for writing the smp code for q4. that is the doom3 engine which will go into a LOT of games. and since it speeds up the amd chips as well, it is a free upgrade for everyone. sure it makes up for a large deficiency in the intel chips, but it is FREE.

    and it makes the really cheap 920/820 chips very price competitive. as the 820 chips are very very cheap about $150 on ebay (which is probably near what oems get them for in bulk, this the rampant dell 820 deals going on)
  • jjmcwill - Saturday, December 31, 2005 - link

    I do professional software development for a living, using Visual Studio 2003 to build the code for a product I work on. We have over 1000 .cpp files and over 1500 header files.

    On my work box: An HP xw6200 workstation with a single 3.0GHz Xeon CPU, 2MB L2 cache, 1G RAM, compilation takes 10:45 for a single project in our solution. On my home system: Socket 754 Athlon 64 3000+, 1.5G RAM, compilation takes 7:30. Both systems build the code off of the exact same, external ide hard drive in a Firewire enclosure. I use it to carry all my work back and forth between work and home.

    At some point we'll be investigating Make to launch parallel compiles, and I would be VERY interested in seeing dual-core CPU comparisons which include compilation benchmarks, using Visual Studio 2003 under Windows, using Make -j2 or Make -j3 under windows, and using gcc/make under Linux.

    Based on what I've seen with the Xeon, I'm leaning toward an AMD X2 or dual core Opteron for my next upgrade.


  • Calin - Tuesday, January 3, 2006 - link

    I think that an Extreme Edition CPU (while much more expensive) would give better results with hyperthreading enabled than a simple Pentium D and maybe even than an Athlon64 X2 while doing several threads of compile. Reply
  • Brian23 - Saturday, December 31, 2005 - link

    The second valuable post in this thread.

    I own a X2 3800 and I'm pleased with the results anand posted. I won't need to upgrade for a while.

    I'm looking forward to AMD implementing something similar to Sun's design: multiple threads running simultaneously. It shouldn't be that hard to do. It's just adding GPRs and a little logic that controls the thread contexts.
  • Missing Ghost - Saturday, December 31, 2005 - link

    Some other web sites report that the cpu becomes too hot with the stock heatsink. Reply
  • Gary Key - Saturday, December 31, 2005 - link


    Some other web sites report that the cpu becomes too hot with the stock heatsink.

    The initial press release kits that contained the Intel D975XBX motherboard had an issue that created higher than normal idle/load temperatures. We have new boards on the way from Intel. I can promise you that the first results shown in other 955EE reviews do not occur on the 975x boards from Gigabyte and Asus, nor will it occur on the production release Intel D975XBX. I highly recommend a different air cooling system than the stock heatsink but most of the reported results at this time are incorrect.

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