3.8 GHz P4-570 and E0 Stepping To End Intel's Performance Crisis

Conclusion: E0 Stepping Is The First Time We Like The Prescott P4

The balance of power between AMD and Intel will not change all that much because of a 200 MHz clock speed increase. Yet, if the benchmark results of the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition were combined with those of the Pentium 4 570, Intel would score at the top of a majority of our categories. In a direct comparison, it becomes apparent that the new P4 and the Athlon 64 FX-55 run neck-and-neck. Just as has been the case so many times before, it comes down to personal preference: what is your CPU meant to do?

If games are your main interest, AMD is still impossible to beat. However, the more you move into the professional area with applications such as A/V encoding or rendering, the more attractive the P4 will be. Increased support for the SSE3 instruction set will only add on top of Intel's advantage here; this is an area that still needs to be addressed by AMD.

From our point of view, the fundamental innovation here is the long anticipated introduction of the E0 stepping Prescott core. This makes it possible for us to see a 3.4 GHz P4-550 produced in the PRB0 classification (84 W) for the first time. When combined with the use of a "SpeedStep-like" feature, this should win back some user loyalties in the market.

The processor is protected against overheating by Thermal Monitoring 2, which is activated by the so-called PROCHOT signal. This causes the CPU to reduce the clock if that is needed to cool things down, while the core voltage is simultaneously lowered to 1.2 V. On top of that, the CPU can fall back on PROCHOT whenever it runs idle. This happens via Enhanced Halt Mode C1E as soon as the operating system's CPU demands drop to low values.

Adding the XD bit (Execute Disable Bit) as a feature should have been done a long time ago. EM64T, the 64 bit extensions that also were overdue, will likely not be inserted into all models outside those that go into the professional market. That is not a big problem, though, since the transition to 64 bit Windows is still quite far away.

In closing, it is obvious that Intel could not change the high power loss of its top models overnight. Dramatic improvement in this area won't be seen until the first 65 nm chips become available. However, the Pentium 4 570 test sample was actually the first Prescott processor that managed to please people that had access to our test results. While an efficient CPU cooler plus chassis ventilation are still essential, the Pentium 4 E0 stepping proved to be a gentle companion for office and multimedia applications, while extending its performance by a small amount. Finally, the Pentium 4 processor and the 900 series chipset seem to make a great team.

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