Tweak3D - Your Freakin' Tweakin' Source!

Posted: October 31st, 2004
Written by: Adam Honek

The Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.46GHz

In its initial form the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition featured the now common 800MHz FSB as its link to data, a technology introduced as a result of Intel i865/i875P chipsets back in summer 2003. What has differentiated it from standard Pentium 4's has been its large 2MB L3 cache, something ordinary Pentium 4's even till this day lack completely. While slower than L2 cache its still impressive low latency and thus efficient characteristics have been the main driving force leading to improved performance over its younger brother. This added feature has until now been the solitary aspect making essentially two very similar products appeal to dissimilar customers.

With this latest technological revamp Intel moves forward on two fronts, one of which is less substantial than the other. The minor change is that now the highest Pentium 4 Extreme Edition operates at 3.46GHz instead of 3.4GHz. The larger and probably most appealing transformation concerns the FSB which finally boats more bandwidth by running at 1066MHz or 1.06GHz. By evolving the latter the FSB bandwidth has essentially progressed from 6.4GB/sec to 8.5GB/sec, an improvement of almost 33%. Granted that where large L2/L3 cache is apparent FSB effectiveness contributes less to overall performance this is still a welcome move, if not to overly assist the Extreme Edition then to better potentially support future Intel processors throughout next year. Inside the core there are no further modifications, the 8KB L1/512KB L2/2MB L3 caches, and active Hyper Threading remain as they were upon original launch. Because the CPU now runs off a 1066MHz FSB it will only be sold in a Socket 775 version leaving owners of i865/i875P chipset motherboards to either upgrade or stay stationary with the earlier 3.4GHz model. Intel furthermore maintains calling upon its Extreme Edition by actual clock speed rather than processor number as visible in for example recent Pentium 4 processors.

With this latest manifestation of the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition we can reference it as an enhanced version of its predecessor, in secondary form perhaps not a quantum leap but one of refinement. Intel has vastly improved the Netburst architecture since its inception in November 2000 and this is ultimately what the latest Extreme Edition addition is, a processor designed around a core that has been given a number of beneficial facelifts. It is fairly safe to state that if someone had a liking towards the capabilities of either the Northwood or Prescott Pentium 4 processors then no doubt they will also have a healthy opinion regarding the Extreme Edition. To phrase this directly would be to say that within Intel's own playground those who choose Intel are offered no better choice - should they want maximum performance - than the Extreme Edition. Of course the true test is not how the Extreme Edition rates compared to Intel's own other products, but rather how it balances overall and this involves the "C" word, competition. This is something we'll be no doubt extensively looking into later during the review, next however lets start by taking a closer look at the internal core of Intel's new big boys toy.

Next Page: Prescott 0 : Gallatin 1

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