Intel's 15 Most Unforgettable x86 CPUs

The Pentium 4: A Lot Of Noise Over Very Little

In November 2000, Intel announced its new processor, the Pentium 4. With a higher clock speed (at least 1,400 MHz), this processor had a major drawback in that its performance wasn’t as good as competing models on a per-clock basis. AMD’s Athlon (and even the Pentium III) performed better at the same frequency. Complicating matters, Intel tried to shift to Rambus’ RDRAM memory (the only memory at the time capable of meeting the requirements of the CPU’s FSB), but failed. Expensive and hot, the Pentium 4 nonetheless managed, with many modifications, to more or less stay in the competition for a few years (by adding L3 cache and technologies like Hyper-Threading).

Intel Pentium 4 32-bit
Code name Willamette Northwood Prescott
Date released 2000 2001 2004
Architecture 32 bits 32 bits 32 bits
Data bus 64 bits 64 bits 64 bits
Address bus 32 bits 32 bits 32 bits
Maximum memory 4 GB 4 GB 4 GB
L1 cache 8 KB + 12 Kµops 8 KB + 12 Kµops 16 KB + 12 Kµops
L2 cache 256 KB 512 KB 1,024 KB
Clock frequency 1.3-2 GHz 1.8–3.4 GHz 2.4–3.8 GHz
FSB 400 MHz 400, 533, 800 MHz 533, 800 MHz
SIMD MMX, SSE, SSE2 MMX, SSE, SSE2 MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3
SMT/SMP no Hyper-Threading (certain versions) Hyper-Threading
Fabrication process 180 nm 130 nm 90 nm
Number of transistors 42 million 55 million 125 million
Power consumption 66-100 W 54-137 W 94-151 W
Voltage 1.7 V 1.55 V 1.25–1.5 V
Die surface area 217 mm² 146 mm² 112 mm²
Connector Socket 423/Socket 478 Socket 478 Socket 478/LGA775

Mobile versions (with a variable multiplier), Celeron versions (with a smaller L2 cache), and Xeon versions (with an L3 cache) of the Pentium 4 were sold. Hyper-Threading and the L3 cache are two technologies that first appeared on servers and were then adapted to standard processors (though L3 cache was available only on the expensive EE models).

We should also mention the FSB, which was clocked at a fourth of the nominal clock frequency, using what is called Quad Data Rate (QDR) technology—a 400 MHz bus is actually 100 MHz QDR, 533 MHz is 133 MHz QDR, etc. Finally, 64-bit versions of the Pentium 4 appeared in 2005, which we’ll talk about later on.

Create a new thread in the US Reviews comments forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
82 comments
    Your comment
  • Arkz
    great article with only a few slight errors (like saying the core2duo has 1-4 cores... i don't think there's a 1 cored version lol)

    Looking forward to the AMD article.
    -4
  • aleluja
    To correct you. Core 2 Duo has ONLY 2 cores, not more, not less.
    Core 2 Quad, has 4 cores and Core Solo has 1 core.
    7
  • Anonymous
    @Arkz

    Yes there is a singal core,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Intel_Core_2_microprocessors#Single-Core_Mobile_processors

    Ok it is not under the same branding but it is part of the same microarchitecture
    3
  • Yuka
    I might be wrong, but i resemble that the Pentium 166 (32bits adress bus and all) had support for 4Gb of memory. I remember IBM sold it's top line (at that time) with 64Mb support (even with SDR PC100/66 support). Correct me if i'm wrong please.
    1
  • neiroatopelcc
    The core 2 does supply 1-4 cores - 2 cores per die, where one might be disabled, and one or two dies on a socket. It's no less right to call a core2duo a cpu with 1-4 cores, than it is to put the pentium d on the same page as a single core prescot, as it's the very same principle.
    -1
  • cangelini
    Arkzgreat article with only a few slight errors (like saying the core2duo has 1-4 cores http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coree ... i don't think there's a 1 cored version lol)Looking forward to the AMD article.


    Thanks for the heads-up! I tweaked that passage to better represent the Core 2 architecture's available configurations!
    -1
  • randomizer
    vosesterOk it is not under the same branding but it is part of the same microarchitecture

    Exactly. The article says:

    ArticleThere are many versions of the architecture, resulting in configurations with a different number of cores


    There is no mention of the branding, so there is no actual error there, just misinterpretation.
    1
  • ImSpartacus
    Arkzgreat article with only a few slight errors (like saying the core2duo has 1-4 cores... i don't think there's a 1 cored version lol)Looking forward to the AMD article.


    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116039

    Yes, it isn't called a "Core 2 Duo," but it uses the Core architecture and only has a single core enabled.

    But I will have to say, there aren't any 3 core models...
    0
  • magicandy
    Good to hear you're not only doing an AMD article, but an ATI one as well (in response to the Nvidia article you did earlier, assuming). A sign of class from the new Tom's is a welcome one.
    4
  • harrycat88
    I wish they would get rid of those stupid SNAP Linkbubless and Inteltex misguiding links. Who ever invented those stupid annoying double lined text popups should have been burned at the stake
    6
  • JonathanDeane
    What Intelitext do you speak of ? lol (I use a good Hosts file from MVP) blocks most of that crud.

    Anyway great article was like a trip down memory lane for me, first Intel CPU I got to use was a 8086 and wow it was slow (I was a kid with ADD give me a break lol) well maybe it was not slow and it was the floppy drive that killed me... Either way best game on it was Qbasic uugghh I think I remember it having CGA with a mighty 4 colors !! I had some paint program for it too.
    0
  • johnlove
    Compared to Athlon, Pentium 4 is a big loser.
    So why is the Pentium 4 "unforgettable"?
    0
  • Anonymous
    My AMD machine (K6 233MHz) smoked all my college buddies Pentium 233s. MatLab, Visio, Quattro Pro, PSPICE, Duke Nukem - everything ran faster on my machine. And it cost me $400 less than the comparable Intel setup.
    0
  • warezme
    Just 15? I figure its anything with SX after it, anything Celeron and most of anything HT (hyperthreading heat trap)
    0
  • warezme
    oops, my dyslexia read the thing as Most Forgettable.., ignore post above. Maybe thats the next article
    0
  • jimmysmitty
    johnloveCompared to Athlon, Pentium 4 is a big loser. So why is the Pentium 4 "unforgettable"?


    Because it was a huge part of CPU history? IDK. Considering that it was not that bad until Prescott, which I am sad they didn't mention.

    But the Pentium 4 will always be remembered in my eyes thanks to the Blue Man Group. Them and their crazy stuff.

    theDagdaMy AMD machine (K6 233MHz) smoked all my college buddies Pentium 233s. MatLab, Visio, Quattro Pro, PSPICE, Duke Nukem - everything ran faster on my machine. And it cost me $400 less than the comparable Intel setup.


    Thats nice. Because this is obviously a competition.

    No wait its not. Its just a nice walk down memory lane and they are going to do AMD next so no need for that.

    I for one am suprised that they didn't include the Pentium 805. I remember reading how well that one OCed and when OCed it smoked the highest end available and it only cost $150 bucks.

    Seriously why bring AMD into this? Its just nice memories not a comparison.
    -1
  • ovaltineplease
    Enjoyed the article, it was a nice walk down memory lane to my teenage nerdhood.
    0
  • snarfies1
    jimmysmittyConsidering that it was not that bad until Prescott, which I am sad they didn't mention.


    If the best you can say about it is "that it was not that bad," that would seem to indicate it wasn't particularly worth remembering.
    0
  • Anonymous
    You forgot the 486DX5 133. Allowed me to up a 486/50 to Pentium 75 performance with just a chip. Worked well till programs started to check for a true Pentium chip before running/installing.
    0
  • theLaminator
    I've got a working luch box with a 386 in it complete with network cards, Working pentium box, a PIII box, the laptop I still use is a P4 3.0Ghz (an hour and half battery life lol), and my new rig has A core 2 duo E8400 OC'd to 4.0Ghz. Good times for me with Intel
    0