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Intel's Pentium 4 2.2GHz. and 2.0AGHz. Northwood Processors
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Date: Jan 06, 2002
Section:Processors
Author: HH Editor
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Intel's Pentium 4 2.2GHz. and 2.0AGHz. Northwood Processors - Page 1

 

Intel's Pentium 4 2.2GHz. and 2.0AGHz. Processors
"Northwood" Enters The Arena

By, Dave Altavilla
January 7, 2002



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 Intel?s 0.13 micron manufacturing process
  • 512K on chip, Full Speed L2 Cache
  • Rapid Execution Engine - ALU clocked at 2X frequency of core
  • 128bit Floating Point/Multimedia unit
  • "Hyper Pipelined" Technology for extremely high clock speeds
  • Featuring the Intel "NetBurst" micro-architecture
  • Supported by the IntelĀ® 850 and i845 chipsets
  • Fully compatible with existing Intel Architecture-based software
  • Internet Streaming SIMD Extensions 2
  • IntelĀ® MMX? media enhancement technology
  • Memory cacheability up to 4 GB of addressable memory space and system memory scalability up to 64 GB of physical memory
  • 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. 

Say 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.
 

 

Voltage, Heat, Processor ID, Over-Clocking and Preliminary Tests

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Intel's Pentium 4 2.2GHz. and 2.0AGHz. Northwood Processors - Page 2

 

Intel's Pentium 4 2.2GHz. and 2.0AGHz. Processors
"Northwood" Enters The Arena

By, Dave Altavilla
January 7, 2002

 
Like kids in a candy store, we set out to see just what the Northwood was made of, in terms of its system level behavior and general characteristics.   What would this new .13 micron part, with additional on chip cache, do when we powered up?  Let's have a look.
 

Pentium 4 Northwood - Vital Signs
Less is more...

Let's first have a look at what CPUID tells us about the 2.2GHz. chip, since it is the star of our show.  We'll also be testing out the 2.0AGHz. version as well, in the following pages.  As an aside, Intel has chosen the "A" call out designation for the 2GHz. chip,  to signify it is Northwood core based versus legacy Willamette technology.

CPUID and Cache ID - Click images for full viewing
 

 

You'll note here that we indeed have a 2.2GHz. Pentium 4 with 512K of full speed on chip cache.  CPUID also reports the P4's onboard L1, Trace, Instruction and Data Cache, 32K in total.  The 512K L2 cache is 8 way set associative, which means each of the internal memory sectors or "sets" on the cache can map to 8, 64 byte cache lines.  This provides higher cache hit rates.  8 Way Set Associative Cache implementations have been around since the P3 Coppermine chips, only now we have 2X the amount of cache at 512K.

In terms of voltage and temperature, here's what the Northwoods are running at.


These readings were taken at the 2.2GHz. speed, from the Winbond on board health monitoring chip that is on our test-bed Abit motherboard.  It isn't as accurate as a reading from a thermistor probe but this should still give you a baseline.  As you can see, the Northwood core at this speed is running at a slightly lower temp than the 2GHz. Willamette we tested back in August.  With a modest 200MHz. speed increase, it was nice to see approximately a 3C drop in temperature.

 

Overclocking The Northwood
We can almost taste 3GHz.

We might as well jump in feet first on this and just let it rip.  We took the 2.2GHz. Northwood test chip we have here in the lab (a full retail version) and dropped it into an Asus P4B266 i845DDR motherboard.  This board allows for only a modest voltage increase to 1.7V over the default 1.5V core voltage.  We then had to work with the fairly high 22X multiplier on the 2.2G Northwood and drove the front side bus speed up as high as it would handle things and still perform with good stability.  Here are the results.

CPUID and Sandra's Processor @ 2.6GHz. - Click images for full view

    

Not too long ago, the average X86 CPU was clocking in at a few hundred MHz.  Remember the Celeron 300A and how the enthusiast crowd couldn't get enough of the chip over-clocked at 450-500MHz.?  Well, it certainly is amazing to see that these days, we are realizing a 400MHz. over-clock gain.  It is amazing to think that not long ago 400MHz. was the average total speed of the processor and now we are realizing over-clock differentials alone that high.  At 2.6GHz. the Northwood leaves everything in the dust in this quick Sandra Processor test.

Let's move out to more detailed testing.

The Benchmarks

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Intel's Pentium 4 2.2GHz. and 2.0AGHz. Northwood Processors - Page 3

 

Intel's Pentium 4 2.2GHz. and 2.0AGHz. Processors
"Northwood" Enters The Arena

By, Dave Altavilla
January 7, 2002

 
Turning up the heat a bit on the Multimedia side of things, we have 3DMark 2001 and Video 2000 MPEG2 Encoding tests, from our friends at MadOnion.com.
 

 

 

Benchmarks and Comparisons
MadOnion's Finest and DroneZ

First up, the ever popular 3DMark 2001.  We ran this test at the default 1024X768X32 test setup and took scores from our various test-beds.  The results may surprise you.  The performance deltas were larger than expected.

 

Well now, here's a fairly significant gain that can be noted for the Northwood core versus the Willamette.  Although 500 points in total is really only a 6% gain, we have to remember that the baseline score in 3DMark 2001, for the average test system, is a few thousand points above the absolute zero mark.  As a matter of fact, there is probably no way to produce a "zero" score in this test, as long as you have a compliant system.  Therefore, the nearly 500 point delta we see between the 2GHz. Northwood and 2GHz. Willamette score, is much more significant.  Also, the new 2.2GHz. Northwood scores comfortably ahead of the Athlon XP1900+ in this test.

 

 

 

MadOnion's Video 2000 MPEG2 Encode test, isolates the host CPU in an MPEG2 compression processing test.

 

We are in the process of evaluating new additions to our Multimedia benchmark tests, here in the HotHardware Labs.  Clearly this test doesn't tax high end CPUs as it did almost 2 years ago.  All the entries here are within 2% of each other.

 

 

 

DroneZ Benchmark is an OpenGL based test that relies heavily on system bandwidth to process its large textures and dynamic lighting effects.  We did however, tone down the settings to "GeForce2 Normal" which will tax the graphics subsystem less and isolate the processor.   In order to run this test, the test system must be configured with at least 256MB of RAM.  Here we see Northwood's additional cache garner an impressive 15% gain clock for clock.  Additionally, with the 2.2GHz. Northwood pulling away from the Athlon XP1900+ by a whopping 27%, you get a clear indication that the Pentium 4 will continue to dominate as one of the fastest gaming processors money can buy.

 

 

Quake 3 Arena and our final thoughts

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Intel's Pentium 4 2.2GHz. and 2.0AGHz. Northwood Processors - Page 4

 

Intel's Pentium 4 2.2GHz. and 2.0AGHz. Processors
"Northwood" Enters The Arena

By, Dave Altavilla
January 7, 2002

 
We'll finish up our testing with the incomparable Quake 3 Time Demo run.
 

 

 

Benchmarks and Comparisons
Quake 3 Time Demo Benchmark

 

Once again, in an effort to isolate raw host processor horsepower, we have turned the graphical settings down to a low resolution 640X480 run with 16 bit color.  Additionally, geometry and texture settings were left low.  The CPUs in this test should be left with the ability to drive as many polygons, through the GeForce3s that we used, as they can muster.

 

 

Here we see a more modest but significant gain of about 7% for the 2GHz. Northwood and 12% for the 2.2GHz. CPU.  Again, Intel widens the gap in this gaming benchmark, between itself and the Athlon XP1900+.  Even with XP2000+ chips around the corner, we would be hard pressed to believe it could score higher than a 2.2GHz. Northwood Pentium 4.

 

 

 

 

We see now what Intel would have liked to deliver in the first incarnation of the Pentium 4 processor.  However, with modern fab process technologies in the .18 micron range, at the time of it's first launch, cache sizes had to be chopped and clock speeds held back in return for acceptable yields.  With .13 micron technology now in full volume production in the Intel fabs, Intel can finally realize the full potential of the architecture they have been developing with the Pentium 4 all this time.  At 2.2GHz. the Pentium 4 is the highest clock speed processor on the planet right now.  Higher clock cycles do not always translate to higher performance, as we all know.  However, you cannot argue the fact that the Pentium 4, with all of its 2.2GHz. of bandwidth, shows impressive power in demanding applications.  Although the Athlon XP still seems to have an edge in office applications, like those tested in the Winstone tests, we are sure the average end user would have a tough time perceiving the difference between a high end Athlon and a Pentium 4, in these tasks.  Intel's focus on the Floating Point and Multimedia performance, we feel is very much on target, for this is where processing power is going to be required most, moving forward.  Word processors just don't need a 2GHz. processor to run with acceptable performance.

In addition, you have seen a glimpse of  what is to come in our over-clocking tests.  Our 2.2GHz. chip reached 2.6+GHz without too much effort or extra voltage.  Once again, you get the feeling that Intel is releasing higher follow on speed bins of the part, almost at will.  We are looking forward to the day, in the not so distant future, where we'll have 3GHz. under the hood.  Let's not forget Intel's promised "Hyper-Threading" technology, which will effectively make one physical processor look like two logical processors to the operating system.  With the ability to execute different tasks simultaneously using common system resources, the Pentium 4 should, if all goes as Intel plans, really begin to shine.  We'll have to wait and see how things pan out.  For now, we'll thank "deep sub-micron" technology (very deep) for smiling upon us once again and delivering even more power.

 

 

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