Intel and AMD's perpetual GHz. race continues in the
new year, at a fevered pace that is almost more than the sluggish PC Industry
can absorb. Soon new machines from the major OEMs, will line the shelves
of various retailers, hoping to lure potential customers with the promise of
earth shattering performance and features that no one should live without.
Frankly, with the myriad of choices, flavors and clock speeds available to the
consumer, it's no surprise that the average prospective PC customer now looks at
only a few data points on which to base their decision making process.
Let's face it, all things being equal, big fast
drives, powerful graphics, and crisp displays, there really isn't much to
consider when evaluating a new system or upgrade, with perhaps only two
exceptions, "Clock Speed" and "Price Tag". More GHz. for the dollar, is
most likely the strongest selling point for any PC OEM's marketing strategy.
Now, before you begin to fill up my inbox with flame mail, please realize that I
know (you are obviously an intelligent crowd since you are reading the pages of
HotHardware) that you understand that this is a complete over-simplification of
what really makes a PC perform. On the other hand, at a certain point, the
brute force laws of nature (and physics) tend to take over and one has to admit,
that 2.2GHz. just sounds damn fast, no matter how you slice it. With this
in mind, it is easy to see why AMD had to shift gears back to their old
"performance rating" strategy.
At a full 600MHz. behind this new Intel flagship
product, a 1.6GHz. Athlon (otherwise know as Athlon XP1900+) may seem a bit
meager against the backdrop of Intel's marketing machine, clocked at 2.2GHz.
Not to mention the fact that an additional 256K (total of 512K) of on die cache
has been added to the Pentium 4, to improve latency. However, as you
intelligent (and might we add very good-looking) people know, there's a lot more
to the story of high performance computing than just raw clock cycles.
That's why you're here, and we'll try and provide some insight. This is a
HotHardware test and showcase of the performance of Intel's new Pentium 4
Northwood Processor at 2 and 2.2GHz. Let's see what bleeding edge
semiconductor process technology and blistering clock speeds, have done for the
Pentium 4 Processor.
|Specifications of the
Pentium 4 2.2GHz. and 2.0AGHz. Pentium 4 Processors
Smaller die size, more
on chip cache and a few more clock cycles to boot
- Available at speeds ranging from 1.4GHz. to 2.2 GHz.
- Based upon Intels 0.13 micron manufacturing process
- 512K on chip, Full Speed L2
- Rapid Execution Engine - ALU clocked at 2X frequency
- 128bit Floating Point/Multimedia unit
- "Hyper Pipelined" Technology for extremely high
- Featuring the Intel "NetBurst" micro-architecture
- Supported by the Intel 850 and i845 chipsets
- Fully compatible with existing Intel
- Internet Streaming SIMD Extensions 2
- Intel MMX media enhancement technology
- Memory cacheability up to 4 GB of addressable memory
space and system memory scalability up to 64 GB of
- Support for uni-processor designs
- 1.5V operating voltage range
The all new Northwood Pentium 4
core now runs at a significantly lower power 1.5V core voltage. If
there is one thing we would like you to take away from this article, it
would be the concept of die geometry and how it affects processor power
consumption, heat and speed. Intel's new .13 micron wafer fab
technology allows for significantly smaller die size versus the older .18
process they are using on P4 "classic"
Willamette core based devices. The smaller the die, the less
power it consumes in addition to the inherently higher clock speeds that are
able to be produced. Yields for this new P4 core have reached new
heights in clock speed, now at 2.2GHz. for the top end processor. From
a power consumption perspective, a 2GHz. "Willy" consumes about 72 watts of
power. The new Northwood core at 2.2GHz. consumes 55 watts.
That's an impressive 24% power consumption improvement and a perky 10% jump
in clock speed, at the same time. That's the beauty of die shrinks,
you can have your cake and eat it too. Intel is the only major
processor vendor in high volume production with a .13 micron process.
In addition, the Northwood's transistor gate length (actual size of a
transistor's switch path, which affects delay through it) is 60 nanometers versus
the P3 Tualatin core's 70 nanometer gate length. This translates to
transistors that switch on and off significantly faster. The P4's
transistor technology is some of the
fastest in the processor industry, at this point in time.
hello Wendy Wafer... Wendy, this is... well, everybody. While we
aren't exactly sure this nice lady's name is actually Wendy, we are sure
that she is holding several thousand dollars worth of Intel dice. Since Wendy is probably a highly trained wafer fab process
technician, perhaps this is not such an impressive feat for someone like
her. However, what is very impressive is the actual size of the wafer
she is holding. You're looking at a 12" Intel test wafer. This is
huge for a semiconductor wafer even for modern technology. Intel is
one of very few chip suppliers that actually has a 12 inch CMOS process
moving into production in 2002. Mainstream .18 and .15 micron
processes these days, are typically built on 8" wafers.
Obviously, this extremely large wafer process
allows Intel economies of scale, when it comes to producing P4 chips.
They will be able to produce exponentially more dice per wafer when they
move to these new 12" slabs. In late Q4 2001, rumors circulated about
Intel's capacity issues with respect to the Pentium 4, with Intel spokesmen
stating it was due to better than forecasted demand. Consider Intel's
new 12" wafers a formal response to the question of capacity. With
these new wafers on line, our Intel contacts have informed us that they'll
have plenty of capacity moving forward. Smaller die, and more wafer
area are also the keys to profitable chip fabrication and lower costs.
We'll have to see how this all shakes out on Intel's balance sheet, as well
as price points in the retail sector.
Now that we've covered some preliminary
architecture and background on Intel's new flagship CPU, we'll cover some
initial findings of how the all new Northwood behaved in our test-beds
of i850 and i845 DDR motherboards.
Heat, Processor ID, Over-Clocking and Preliminary Tests