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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).

Code nameWillametteNorthwoodPrescott
Date released200020012004
Architecture32 bits32 bits32 bits
Data bus64 bits64 bits64 bits
Address bus32 bits32 bits32 bits
Maximum memory4 GB4 GB4 GB
L1 cache8 KB + 12 Kµops8 KB + 12 Kµops16 KB + 12 Kµops
L2 cache256 KB512 KB1,024 KB
Clock frequency1.3-2 GHz1.8–3.4 GHz2.4–3.8 GHz
FSB400 MHz400, 533, 800 MHz533, 800 MHz
SIMDMMX, SSE, SSE2MMX, SSE, SSE2MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3
SMT/SMPnoHyper-Threading (certain versions)Hyper-Threading
Fabrication process180 nm130 nm90 nm
Number of transistors42 million55 million125 million
Power consumption66-100 W54-137 W94-151 W
Voltage1.7 V1.55 V1.25–1.5 V
Die surface area217 mm²146 mm²112 mm²
ConnectorSocket 423/Socket 478Socket 478Socket 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.

  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • @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
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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!
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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...
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply