Well, well, I wonder how Intel will be able to motivate its OEM customers after they read the numbers that we've just seen. This is what Intel wants them to do:
It's not going to be easy I guess!
Let's get serious now however. We have learned that Pentium 4 has got a rather exciting and interesting brand new design that comes with a whole lot of potential. However, the benchmark results might seem a bit sobering to the majority of you. Whatever Pentium 4 is right now, it is certainly not the greatest and best performing processor in the world. It's not a bad performer as well though.
Intel seems very determined to make Pentium 4 a success and I have the feeling that it will succeed. The implementation of SSE2-instructions into future software as well as the usage of code-optimizing compilers for Pentium 4 will make sure that Pentium 4 will be standing in a much better light very soon. However, I believe that Pentium 4's strongest side is its clock speed potential. Just realize that I overclocked this brand new 1.5 GHz Pentium 4 to beyond 1.7 GHz without any problems. I don't care whatever the latest roadmap of Intel may be saying. I am certain that Intel will deliver very fast Pentium 4 processors very soon. Intel has finally won back the ability to make AMD's life a lot harder.
What do I think of the components around Pentium 4? I have got to admit it, but with Pentium 4 Rambus is finally able to deliver for the first time. If you look at Pentium 4's design closely enough, you can see that it's engineered to live with RDRAM in perfect harmony. The memory benchmarks from above show that Pentium 4 really requires the 3,200 MB/s of data bandwidth supplied by the two Rambus channels. I doubt that it will perform as well with DDR-SDRAM, unless two channels will be used. One DDR-SDRAM channel offers 'only' 2,122 MB/s of data bandwidth, which might make quite a difference with Pentium 4.
The new power supply and housing requirements for Pentium 4 might be a nuisance to some, but they make perfect sense. I hope that AMD will follow Intel's example and come up with some solid new specifications for Athlon-platforms as well.
I personally really like Pentium 4. It's a bit like getting designer furniture. You don't really need it, but it's damn cool to have it. Don't buy Pentium 4 unless you feel like this. If you can spend the extra bucks and like the strengths of Pentium 4 without minding the little weaknesses (e.g. x87 floating point applications) you maybe want to consider it. If you are on a budget or your system is a hard working platform that's required to make you money, I'd rather go for the really working class kind of processor by the name of Athlon.
Pentium 4 at 1.4 GHz goes for $644, Pentium 4 at 1.5 GHz costs $819 right now. It's not exactly a bargain, but, hey, who really cares about price if it really is all about style?
Please don't forget to read the Intel roadmap update from October 13, 2000 to understand Intel's strategy with Pentium 4.
Please be sure to read the follow-up article, Important Pentium 4 Evaluation Update