Dothan Over Netburst: Is The Pentium 4 A Dead End?

Conclusion: The Pentium 4 Must Go (alternatively: Kill The Pentium 4!)

Let us try to sum up the insights we have gained during the course of this little project.

With the help of a simple socket adapter card and a BIOS upgrade, certain mainboards using Intel's 865/875 chipsets can be upgraded to use a Pentium M instead of a Pentium 4. Such a system offers up-to-date performance paired with low power requirements.

Additionally, we were able to raise the FSB from 133 to 160 MHz without any trouble at all. The result was that our 2.13 GHz Pentium M 770 ended up running at 2.56 GHz! At this clock speed, our two year old platform was able to beat the processor heavyweights Athlon 64 FX and Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition in all 3D games!

Mind you, these top of the line processors have the newest platform technologies at their disposal, such as DDR2 memory and PCIe graphics. But in this context, the CT-479 may be a very worthwhile investment for enthusiasts, especially if games or the Pentium M's low power requirements are the primary focus.

In all of the application benchmarks, the Pentium M really shows what it's made of. Even without an integrated memory controller, the Pentium III's heir is as fast as an Athlon 64 on a clock-for-clock basis - and eats the in-house competition for lunch. Only the low-level tests, the synthetic benchmarks and optimized applications continue to be dominated by the Pentium 4 - despite such advanced technologies as HyperThreading and/or SSE3. Encoding and rendering therefore remain the Pentium 4's forte.

After analyzing the benchmark results, it is easy to imagine what a Pentium M running at 2.8 GHz or more would be capable of, not to mention what DDR2 memory could do - if only the upper echelons at Intel were willing to take hold of the wheel and change course.

If we leave the Pentium M out of the picture for a moment, the Pentium 4 doesn't look half bad at first; without question, it offers excellent performance. But as soon as we begin to factor in the system's overall power consumption, our eyebrows begin their skyward ascent. When idle, a Pentium 4 system draws about a third more power than a Pentium M system. Once the Pentium 4 is put under a heavy CPU load, this disparity increases to a whopping 80%; the reason is that the Pentium M draws only a little more power under load, while the P4 system, on the other hand, devours twice as much power as when sitting idle. For all this extra power, the P4 runs not even a third faster than the Pentium M at its stock clock speed (2.13 GHz)! Quo vadis, Intel?

These results once again impressively demonstrate the dead end into which Intel has maneuvered itself with the Netburst architecture as far as efficiency is concerned. And quite unnecessarily, too, seeing as the company has a powerful and energy efficient alternative just waiting to be exploited.

However, very recently, Intel publicly confirmed it was about to make a move away from the Netburst architecture of the Pentium 4 - it seems the company is aware of the P4's crumbling acceptance. We can only hope that Intel will bring us more sensible products in the future.

Meanwhile, AMD should begin preparing a suitable answer to Intel's upcoming accelerated 65 nm dual-core processor, code named "Conroe." Care to guess upon which architecture this design will be based?