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Posted: December 10, 2000
Written by: Tuan "Solace" Nguyen
Itís Whatís on the Inside that Counts
The Pentium 4 isnít merely about physical changes -- it hosts a totally new and radical architecture. With the technology inside the Pentium 4, Intel has its first 7th generation processor. AMD was the first to release a 7th generation processor but being the first doesnít always mean being the best. As history has shown, pioneers donít always become leaders.
The Pentium 4 integrates the following new features:
Hyper Pipelined Technology
- Very deep pipeline to enable breakthrough clock rates
- Performance scalability and speed headroom for the future
Advanced Dynamic Execution
- Can handle more than 100 instructions in flight
- Enables speculative execution with enhanced branch prediction algorithm
- Offers 128-byte cache lines
- Extends upon basic features found in the P6 architecture
Rapid Execution Engine
- An integer ALU (arithmetic logic unit) clocked at twice the frequency of the Pentium 4 processor, decreasing latency and increasing the throughput of basic integer operations
Execution Trace Cache
- Execution trace Cache feeds fast engine
- Removes IA-32 (Intel Architecture -- 32-bit) decoder from main loop and in turn removes the decoder pipeline latency
Enhanced Floating-Point/Multimedia Unit
- 128-bit Floating-Point/Multimedia execution port
- Separate 128-bit floating-point move and data store port (in addition to the integer store port)
New Streaming SIMD Extensions 2 Instructions
- Offers 144 new instructions -- SIMD double-precision floating-point instructions, SIMD 128-bit integer instructions, conversion instructions between floating-point and integer data, and cacheability instructions.
- Enables excellent performance of next-generation broadband services such as interactive digital TV
A new system bus architecture with high bandwidth for performance headroom
- 3.2GB/sec data transfer rate
- Split transaction, deeply pipelined bus
- 128-byte lines with 64-byte access
Full compatibility with existing IA-32 applications and operating systems
What are all these features and what do they do?
Intel NetBurst Architecture
Intel is pushing its new technology called NetBurst. This is the name given to the set of features that Intel added to the Pentium 4. Throughout this article, there is one thing that you have to keep in mind; the Pentium 4 is ahead of its time and with that and it is in great condition to lead the way in the near future. You may be asking, ďWell how does it perform with my current pile of software?Ē Obviously, the Pentium 4ís performance will be on the high-end of the technological scale, but the real icing on the cake is that when new games and software come out in a few months, they wonít struggle on the processor. All your current software will run perfectly and with ease on the Pentium 4, but while other current processors will lag with new applications, the Pentium 4 will stay right up there.
Intel is pushing its NetBurst architecture and a lot of developers are looking at it with inspired eyes. This is rightly so. The Pentium 4 concentrates on your investment life and promises to ensure a long lasting, strong performing product.
This all goes well if developers support the Pentium 4ís exclusive features, but if they donít, we may be seeing some problems. However, studying Intelís past reveals a history with strong developer support. From MMX to SSE, developers have flocked to Intel. It definitely shouldnít have trouble winning votes for the Pentium 4 and becoming a leader. I canít say the same for the current situation down in Florida.