Market Survey, Part 1: A Comparison Of The Latest Pentium 4 Motherboards

Intel's Processor Plans For 2005

The market is set to be flooded with new processors over the coming months. Intel will be aiming to accommodate a wide range of requirements, though the many options will only make it more difficult for users to choose from among the options. As the jungle of processor numbers gets denser, the need for information on the functionality offered by each processor becomes that much greater.

Starting in the second quarter, the existing product family of Pentium 4 processors numbered from 520 to 570 (2.8 to 3.8 GHz) will also come in numbers from 521 to 571. These will have the AMD-compatible 64-bit EM64T extensions and XD Bit, which, since the advent of Windows XP Service Pack 2, fends off viruses that cause buffer overflows in main memory. There are already 500-type processors out with a "J" suffix at the end, which indicates that they support the XD Bit, selectable in the BIOS. The introduction of SpeedStep technology within the 500 series , which we have spoken in favor of on many occasions, will not take place, at least for the time being . The 500 series will thus continue to convert a relatively large amount of power into heat.

The 600 family of the Pentium 4 will also come out in 2Q05, differing from the P4 500s solely by having 2 MB of L2 cache. The full range of functions is also activated here, namely EM64T, Enhanced SpeedStep, and XD Bit. Clock speeds range from 3.0 to 3.8 GHz (630 to 670 models), with the FSB clock speed remaining at 200 MHz.

The dual-core processor code-named Smithfield, is also expected at around the same time. It is not yet clear whether this will still be called "Pentium 4," though Intel has made mention several times of an 800 line. Three versions are supposed to come out: the 820, 830, and 840 models at 2.8 to 3.2 GHz, based on - contrary to much speculation - the NetBurst architecture of the P4 Prescott.

All the new processors will still work with LGA 775. This goes for the 600 and 800 series as well as the 3.73 GHz Extreme Edition on the way, which is basically a faster Pentium 4 600 running at FSB1066.