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Processor Timeline: From Athlon 1000 To Prescott

Intel's New Weapon: Pentium 4 Prescott
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Let's take a look at what happened over the last three years before we deal with the pros and cons of Intel's new silicon.

Date Intel Days AMD Days
02.02.2004 Pentium 4 3.4 GHz, Pentium 4 3.4E GHz & Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.4 GHz 131
06.01.2004 Athlon 64 3400+ 104
24.09.2003 Pentium 4 EE 3.2 GHz 93 Athlon 64 FX-51 & Athlon 64 3200+ 104
23.06.2003 Pentium 4 3.2 GHz 70
13.05.2003 Athlon XP 3200+ 92
14.04.2003 Pentium 4 3.0 GHz (800 MHz) 151
10.02.2003 Athlon XP 3000+ 133
14.11.2002 Pentium 4 HT 3.06 GHz 80
30.09.2002 Athlon XP 2800+ 40
26.08.2002 Pentium 4 2.8 GHz 112
21.08.2002 Athlon XP 2600+ 72
10.06.2002 Athlon XP 2200+ (0.13 µm) 89
06.05.2002 Pentium 4 2.53 GHz 34
02.04.2002 Pentium 4 2.4 GHz 85
13.03.2002 Athlon XP 2100+ 65
07.01.2002 Pentium 4 2.2 GHz (0.13µm) 133 Athlon XP 2000+ 63
05.11.2001 Athlon XP 1900+ 27
09.10.2001 Athlon XP 1800+ 97
27.08.2001 Pentium 4 2.0 GHz 89
04.07.2001 Athlon 1400 104
30.05.2001 Pentium 4 1.7 GHz 190
22.03.2001 Athlon 1333 155
21.11.2000 Pentium 4 1.5 GHz (0.18 µm)
18.10.2000 Athlon 1200 135
05.06.2000 Athlon 1000 (0.18 µm)

It's striking to see that clock speeds have not distinctly climbed over the last 18 months. Both AMD and Intel had to find other ways to enhance performance of their products without necessarily cranking up clock speeds. AMD raised the system clock from 166 to 200 MHz and doubled the L2 cache, while Intel introduced HyperThreading and equally accelerated its quad-pumped system bus from 133 MHz to 200 MHz.

It is now becoming apparent that neither AMD nor Intel may be able to achieve faster processor speeds with the mature 130 nm production processes. That definitely applies to AMD's AthlonXP, while Intel seems to have more clock speed margin here. Our overclocking project showed that extreme cooling with liquid nitrogen can hoist the Northwood core to exceed 5 GHz. In addition, our 3.4 GHz Northwood sample was capable of easily running more than 4 GHz with an average copper cooler.

However, it is interesting so see Intel's Gigahertz race has not returned performance in a proportion that would equal the clock speed relation between AMD and Intel processors. Instead, AMD has managed to establish the Athlon family as a permanent intruder to Intel's global processor market - with a clock speed difference of nowadays 55% or 1.2 GHz.

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