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Posted: July 17, 2001
Written by: Tuan "Solace" Nguyen
In this review of the Pentium 4, there is one significant difference between this one, and the last one -- a far better conclusion. A few months ago when Intel was releasing slower grades of its Pentium 4 processor, the prices for the processors were far more expensive than the average consumer was willing to pay.
With the release of the new 1.8GHz, Intel is structuring its prices more competitively. Why Intel has done this is a question that can be answered by examining the performance/price ratio that AMD offers. Intel is making sure that it will still have the majority of the processor market share months from now and the only way to do this is to increase clock speed while reducing costs.
The Pentium 4 processor is currently at 1.8GHz with a 2.0GHz soon to follow while AMD is hovering around 1.4GHz to 1.5GHz. Why the Pentium 4 is at such high speeds can be answered by examining its core architecture. While there are many factors that help answer why they run so fast, the main one is that the Pentium 4ís NetBurst architecture has very deep pipelines. The more stages the main processor pipeline is, the higher speeds itíll be able to reach. If you want to understand exactly how this works, please take a look at my Pentium 4 Architecture Guide here.
Intel is cutting prices to match AMDís performance. Simply put, a lower clocked Athlon can outperform a higher clocked Pentium 4 in the majority of todayís applications. Notice I said ďtodayís applicationsĒ; the Pentium 4 has a great potential to do well in tomorrowís applications if they are optimized for NetBurst. These optimizations include things lik SSE2 instructions, multiple ALU unit utilization and faster pre-decode -- the last being very important.
Although Intelís current pricing strategy isnít as attractive as AMDís, itís still a major decision for Intel and a significant leap in affordability. No longer do Pentium 4ís range in the $800 and up range, but now fall into the $400 range. With this in mind, the new 1.8GHz Pentium 4 can be had for a less than five bills, maybe even four.
All this seems very good and makes buying a Pentium 4 very attractive. However, there is another reason why Intel cut its Pentium 4 prices so dramatically and thatís called liquidation. Intelís not bankrupt or going out of business. In fact, it is entering some new areas like high speed fiber optic communications with the recent acquisition of LightLogic Incorporated. What Intel is doing is preparing for a change in interface for the Pentium 4. The actual pin-grid array that the Pentium 4 currently uses will be changed and future Pentium 4 processors will not be socket compatible with todayís Pentium 4 motherboards. If you donít plan to upgrade your computer until a few years later, buying a Pentium 4 based system today would be okay. Within a few years, youíll be making a major overhaul of your entire computer system anyway. For those of you who upgrade on a frequent basis I recommend waiting it out just a bit and then taking a look at the new Pentium 4ís that come out.
For now, letís take a look at Intelís top of the line 1.8GHz Pentium 4.