Several online shops were reporting good availability for Intel's new 600 series Pentium 4 processors several days ahead of the official release. The new chip features an impressive 2 MB L2 cache, and some features that are only partially available within the 500 series. However, Intel's pricing model is somewhat bold, as the new CPUs are far from cheap.
Thanks to the doubled L2 cache, the new 600 series Pentium 4 has a unique selling point that AMD won't be able to counter, at least for the time being. What is more important, though, is that Intel's 600 series finally incorporates several features that AMD has been offering for more than a year. This includes the 64 bit extensions called EM64T, paving the way for RAM totals over 4 GB and Microsoft's x64 edition of Windows XP. Enhanced SpeedStep is also available now, reducing power consumption by dynamically adjusting voltage and core clock speed. While Enhanced Speed Step will remain an exclusive 600 series feature, EM64T is available for the 500 series in selected models.
The Prescott core's high thermals have been an issue for many months now, and Intel was finally forced to take action over the criticism they have received. By combining Thermal Monitoring 2, Enhanced Halt State C1E and Enhanced SpeedStep, the new Prescott runs cooler under both low and average loads, and is safer due to better overheat protection. With a total of 169 million transistors and a die size of 135 mm2, the P4 600 series is significantly larger than the 500 family with its 112 mm2 und 125 million transistors. Yet the thermal envelope and specifications remain unchanged.
We found the similarity between this chip and the recently released Xeon Irwindale pretty interesting. It turns out that these new 90 nm processors running at 2.8 to 3.6 GHz are based on the same processor core. The Gallatin core with 512 kB L2 and 2 MB L3 cache known from earlier Xeons, and the P4 EE 3.4 and 3.46 GHz will be forced to retire. Even the new 3.73 GHz Extreme Edition is based on Prescott; it is nothing more than a 600 series processor running at FSB1066. This means Intel is running only one production process for three different processor types.