Intel's 65 nm Pentium 4 to consume less power

Chicago (IL) - The move from a 90 nm to a 65 nm production process enables Intel to reduce the power consumption of its single-core Pentium 4 processors, Tom's Hardware Guide has learned. Compared to the current generation with "Prescott" core, the new "Cedar Mill" will drop from 95 to 86 watts.

Despite all the buzz around dual-core processors, single-core processors will stay with us for the foreseeable time. In Intel's case, the single-core 6xx series will continue to play its part in the firm's high-performance platform and especially within the "stable image platform program" that is aimed at businesses.

While performance gains are expected to be limited for the aging Pentium 4 architecture, Intel apparently has made significant progress in reducing the power consumption of the processor. Sources showed Tom's Hardware Guide a qualification sample of a 65 nm Pentium 4 653 chip - a processor that recently had been removed from Intel's official roadmap - which consumes about 10 percent less power than its preceding chip generation. The thermal design power (TDP) rating for Cedar Mill chips will be 86 watts, down from 95 watts for the Prescott core with 2 MByte L2 cache. The 86 watt power envelope applies to the Pentium 4 600-series ranging in a clock speed from 3.0 to 3.6 GHz.

In general, the move to a smaller production process also means an increase in current leakage and a greater power consumption of semiconductors. However, Intel apparently was able to improve its transition from the 90 nm Prescott to the 65 nm core to a level which still resulted in a reduced overall consumption in power. One of the measures taken by Intel is to keep Prescott's 1.2 nm insulation layer in order to be able to control current leakage. The firm's 65 nm production process, internally named P1262, is currently implemented in the manufacturer's D1D fab located in Hillsboro, Oregon. D1D houses Intel's largest clean room with a size of about 3.5 football fields.

The current Pentium 4 roadmap includes five basic Cedar Mill-based processor, the 631, 641, 651, 661 and 671 (3.0 to 3.8 GHz). The Cedar Mill "653" sample seen by Tom's Hardware Guide was a 3.4 GHz chip with support for the firm's virtualization technology (VT). According to the current roadmap, there are no official plans for Cedar Mill chips with VT support.

Intel declined to comment on the power envelope of the Cedar Mill processor.