The 65 nm Pentium D 900's Coming Out Party

While more than six months remain before Intel launches its next-generation processor architecture to replace the less-than-venerable Pentium 4, Athlon 64 processors have bested the Pentium 4 by offering better performance and lower power consumption for more than a year. Now, today, Intel's counterstrike begins, as the firm leverages the advantages of its 65 nm process, but without offering significant upgrades in design.

As we previously reported, both the Pentium 4, as well as the dual-core Pentium 4, are based on the original Pentium 4 design, which was launched in 2000. Its main characteristic is a deep execution pipeline that requires high clock speeds in order to perform well. Over time, Intel shrunk the die sizes down from 180 to 130 nm and eventually to 90 nm. Additional instruction sets such as SSE2 and SSE3 and more features were added (such as XD bit, Thermal Monitoring/2, SpeedStep or EM64T). Both caches as well as core clock speeds significantly increased (512 kB - 1 MB - 2 MB and 1.4 to 3.8 GHz).

The situation became critical when Intel introduced its 90 nm Pentium 4 Prescott, because clock speeds quickly hit the ceiling as the processors clearly became too hot. At the same time, Intel had to face fierce opposition by industry experts, the media and educated customers, because AMD demonstrated how to deliver better performance at clearly better thermal numbers. As a result, the predictions of going all the way up to 4-5 GHz were dropped and the dual-core Pentium D Smithfield was introduced.

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