The new Prescott at 3.4 GHz behaves pretty much like the 3.2 GHz version. It comes with slightly faster performance at consistent thermal specifications. And once again it is not clearly faster than a Pentium 4 Northwood at the same clock speed, while there are a few applications such as Pinnacle Studio or MPEG 4 encoding with XMPEG/DivX where the Prescott 3.4 GHz even outperforms the P4 Extreme Edition at 3.4 GHz. On the other hand, in Cool Edit Pro 2.1, it is even slower than Northwood 2.8 GHz.
In comparison with AMD's Athon64 3400+, the new Prescott is able to score with HyperThreading optimized and audio or video encoding applications. If that is your primary application, the chip definitely offers great performance for the buck. When it comes to games or file compression, AMD's Athlon64 still is the better choice.
Finally, it remains to be seen if Intel will be able to make its faster Prescott processors available to the channels. While 2.8 GHz and 3.0 GHz versions have been around, the 3.2 GHz model is not always in supply in retail channels.
We still wonder if the lack of availability could possibly be part of Intel's strategy to push its new LGA 775 platform and new 915/925X chipsets. While the 3.4 GHz versions represent the latest available models for socket 478 anyway, an artificial shortage of high-speed processors could seduce high-end customers to become early adopters of the new system generation.
In the meantime, if you plan to upgrade to a Prescott processor now, make sure that you get a D0 stepping chip: