Logo   Banner   TopRight
TopUnder
Transparent
Intel Pentium 4 6XX Sequence and 3.73GHz Extreme Edition Processors
Transparent
Date: Feb 20, 2005
Section:Processors
Author: Dave Altavilla
Transparent
Introduction and Specfications

 

It's no secret that Intel has occassionally been playing a bit of catchup this year in the desktop and workstation processor arena.  AMD's Athlon 64 releases have recently positioned the company in the lead from a general performance standpoint.  Additionally, the Athlon 64 was the first processor to market with 64-bit extensions and processing capabilities, although there really hasn't been much if any impact in consumer or business usage models for the new architecture because there are scarce few 64-bit applications available, much less a mainstream 64-bit OS.  Of course that's something Intel will be quick to point out as an "I told you so," but you've got to hand it to AMD for blazing a trail. You could easily argue that Intel has been blazing a trail of its own for a while now in multithreaded computing with the release of the Pentium 4 architecture's Hyper-Threading technology, which will evolve once again later this year as multicore CPUs are brought to market by both camps.

Regardless, while AMD seemingly has been riding relatively high over the past 12 months, from a mindshare standpoint, Intel has been rather quietly advancing the Pentium 4 architecture such that today, the company many refer to as "Chipzilla" is bringing to bear significant innovations as well as a solid beefing-up of its current mainstream and enthusiast CPUs. Today marks the debut of an entire new lineup of processors from Intel with the company's 6XX Sequence Pentium 4, as well as a new addition to the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition family. These new Pentium 4 cores offer both architectural enhancements and new features including new Intel innovations such as EM64T extensions for 64-bit computing, "SpeedStep" power-savings technology, and new security improvements with Intel's "Execute Disable Bit" feature. 

Here's a run down of what's under the hood of these new P4s, as well as what is in store for you in the pages ahead as we run these new chips through their paces. 

Intel Pentium 4 6XX Sequence Processors
Prescott flush with cache
  • Pentium 4 6XX Sequence Processor
  • Clock speeds:
    P4 660 - 3.6GHz

    P4 650 -
    3.4GHz
    P4 640 -
    3.2GHz
    P4 630 -
    3GHz
  • 800MHz "Quad-Pumped" frontside bus
  • 0.09-micron manufacturing process
  • Hyper-Threading Technology
  • 2MB on-chip, full-speed L2 cache
  • Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Power Savings technology "EIST"
  • Intel EM64T Extensions - 64-bit computing
  • Execute Disable Bit - For enhanced security
  • 16KB L1 Data Cache
  • Streaming SIMD Extensions - SSE2, SSE3
  • 31-stage "Hyper Pipelined" Technology for higher clock speeds
  • Rapid Execution Engine - ALU clocked at 2X frequency of core
  • 128-bit Floating Point/Multimedia unit
  • Intel "NetBurst" micro-architecture
  • Supported by the Intel i925XE and i915 chipsets, with Hyper-Threading
  • Intel MMX media enhancement technology
  • Memory cacheability up to 256 terabytes of addressable memory in 64-bit mode and 4GB in 32-bit mode
  • 1.25 - 1.4V operating voltage range
  • LGA775 Packaging - Land Grid Array
  • 84 - 115 watts TPD (Thermal Design Power) 






Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.73GHz Processor
Prescott on steriods
  • Pentium 4 Extreme Edition Processor
  • Clock speed: 3.73GHz
  • 1066MHz "Quad-Pumped" frontside bus
  • 0.09-micron manufacturing process
  • Hyper-Threading Technology
  • 2MB on-chip, fullspeed L2 cache
  • Intel EM64T Extensions - 64-bit computing
  • Execute Disable Bit - For enhanced security
  • 16KB L1 Data Cache
  • Streaming SIMD Extensions - SSE2, SSE3
  • 31-stage "Hyper Pipelined" Technology
  • Rapid Execution Engine - ALU clocked at 2X frequency of core
  • 128-bit Floating Point/Multimedia unit
  • Intel "NetBurst" micro-architecture
  • Supported by the Intel i925XE and i915 chipsets, with Hyper-Threading
  • Intel MMX media enhancement technology
  • Memory cacheability up to 256 terabytes of addressable memory in 64-bit mode and 4GB in 32-bit mode
  • 1.25 - 1.4V operating voltage range
  • LGA775 Packaging - Land Grid Array
  • 115 watts TPD (Thermal Design Power)

 







Both of these new processors are based on what is known as Intel's Prescott 2M core for the Pentium 4. They have very deep 31-stage pipelines, which means they can hit impressively high clock speeds but somewhat at the expense of longer latencies on branch execution misses because the core must reissue back through that long pipeline. In addition, both of these CPUs have the beefed-up 2MB L2 caches on board, which should assist significantly in keeping that pipeline full with data from this local on-chip high-speed memory rather than going off chip to significantly slower system memory. 

As noted earlier, there are also a few new features that these Prescott 2M cores bring to market for the P4, namely Intel EM64T 64-bit extensions, EIST or Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology (6XX sequence CPUs only at the moment), and the Execute Disable Bit, all of which we'll dig into next.

Transparent
New P4 Architectural Features

 

With this processor launch, Intel brings forth 64-bit OS and application support with EM64T extensions. In addition, the company has a few other tricks up its sleeve aimed to keep power/thermals in check and security threats on the outside looking in.

Pentium 4 6XX Sequence and 3.73GHz Extreme Edition New Features
64-bit Extensions, SpeedStep, Execute Disable Bit, and 2MB of L2 Cache

         

Intel EM64T - Extended Memory 64 Technology

32-bit operating systems have a limitation of 4GB of memory address space. This limitation is put upon every device or application running in the system that initiates IOs into system memory, such as graphics cards and Ethernet controllers. Each device shares a piece of that 4GB of available memory space in 32-bit mode. However, a 64-bit architecture will expand addressable memory space from 4GB to a possible 256 terabytes, which obviously allows for an exponentially larger shared memory space for system IOs. 

Where 32-bit workstations and servers are currently typically offered with 4GB of system RAM, many OEMs will be offering 16GB and higher Intel Pentium 4 and Xeon configurations moving forward. Incidentally Intel's Xeon processor lineup has had EM64T support for some time and even older Prescott core CPUs have had this feature, although Intel hadn't enabled it until this processor launch.

EM64T is nearly completely compatible with AMD64 technology and is simply an extension of the 32-bit x86 or IA-32 instruction set. Although Intel will not openly acknowledge this, it is a very close facsimile to what AMD has offered for some time in the Athlon 64 and is very different from Intel's own IA-64 instruction set that Intel brought to market with the Itanium.  As a result, EM64T-capable processors cannot run the same software, OS, or applications developed for IA-64. With the success of the Athlon 64, especially in the workstation/server markets, Intel simply had to respond to this competitive threat.  Although it's a bitter pill to swallow, Goliath bowed to David in this battle, and Intel followed a competitor's path in X86 CPU technology, something the company hasn't had to do for a very long time. 

 

Intel Enhanced SpeedStep Power Savings and Thermal Control

EIST or Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology, is an Intel innovation that Intel has been developing in its mobile Pentium processor designs for some time now. It's a method of allowing the system to dynamically adjust processor frequency as well as voltage. Requirements to support EIST are dynamic VID support on the motherboard, based on the VRD10 power array specification, BIOS EIST support, OS Support for EIST, and System Configuration to enable EIST. Virtually all motherboard manufacturers offering i915 and 9125X designs will have built-in BIOS EIST support. Furthermore, here is a current list of operating systems that support EIST:

•Microsoft Windows XP SP2
•Microsoft Advanced Server 2003 SP1 (builds > 1218)
•General Linux 2.6.9 kernel and beyond

What actually happens in the case of a Pentium 660, for example, is that at very light workloads or an idle state, the processor kicks down to a 14X multiplier for 2.8GHz and core voltage is brought down in scale. During medium or heavy workloads, the processor returns to full specification speed in the case of a P4 660, which is 3.6GHz. We'll show this in action later in this article. This technology was absolutely pivotal for Intel to realize more reasonable thermal characteristics because these new Prescott 2M cores, with their additional L2 cache on board, drive core temperatures to nearly alarming levels.

 

Execute Disable Bit For Security

Certain viruses that compromise a system can create buffer overflows by swamping a system processor with code. This overflow can potentially allow the worm or virus to propagate itself across a network of systems infecting other computers in the network. Execute Disable Bit technology was developed by Intel initially for its Itanium processor line, aimed at preventing these types of buffer overflow attacks. Now also available in these new Pentium 4 processors, the Execute Disable Bit allows the processor to designate areas in system memory where application code can run and areas where it can't. When a virus or worm tries to compromise the memory buffer, the system processor stops the code execution, halting the worm or virus in its tracks.   

 

2MB of L2 Cache

Intel has recently taken another path to enhancing processor performance beyond just brute force clock speed increases. Larger on-chip cache regions allow for significantly lower latency memory access in support of the P4 Prescott 2M core. Sufficient memory bandwidth is a significant system bottleneck in general, and the Prescott 2M core, with its 31-stage pipe, needs all the bandwidth it can get. 2MB of L2 cache should provide a measurable performance gain over current Prescott core P4 CPUs and afford this processor core a bit more headroom in gaming and multimedia applications. Comparatively, the Prescott 2M core that these new 6XX Sequence and 3.73GHz Extreme Edition CPUs are based on have 512KB less processor cache on board than a Gallatin core Extreme Edition 3.4 or 3.46GHz P4, which also has a much shorter 20-stage pipeline. Current P4 EE chips have 512KB L2 cache and another full 2MB of L3 cache. It should be interesting to see how these two new architectures match up and how well the new Extreme Edition P4 fares against its brethren Gallatin P4 EE chip.

Transparent
Vital Signs and Test System

 

Our first tests were targeted at characterizing these new P4 chips in our open-air bench test setup. Again, the Pentium 6XX Sequence processors are EIST or Speedstep capable, but our Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.73GHz chip will run flat-out all the time, whether under load or not.  Let's have a look.

Pentium 4 660 and 3.73GHz Extreme Edition Vital Signs
SpeedStep - Don't Leave Home Without It

First up is the Pentium 4 660 at 3.6GHz with SpeedStep technology at its disposal.

    

Pentium 4 660 (3.6GHz) - Speed and Temperature
No load and load testing

As we can see clearly here, SpeedStep is working and working well. While at idle, the P4 660 drops down to a modest 2.8GHz, and our test temps are clocking in at around 42oC with HSF fan speeds at 1785 RPM; very nice indeed. In our load test setup, we invoked an instance of a Folding At Home Client, which has a good tendency to bring a high-end CPU like this right up to its max stock core temp.  In this scenario the fan speed spooled up a bit to 2163 RPM and the core speed skyrocketed to 72oC with the CPU core running at its full 3.6GHz clock speed. Again, Folding with 100% available CPU cycles is sort of a worst-case scenario, but regardless, these new P4 chips run significantly hotter than the 1MB cache original Prescott design, which we've noted historically run fully loaded at or around 60-65oC. So in the final analysis, we're looking at another 5 - 10oC core temp increase at full clock speed and load.  However, SpeedStep brings a welcome relief with its dynamic core voltage and clock speed throttling capabilities. In any case, if you're a big user of the Folding At Home client, it's probably best to turn down CPU utilization in the application control panel. Otherwise, SpeedStep enabled or not, the P4 6XX sequence family of processors is still going to push a large amount of heat inside your chassis.

    

Pentium 4 3.73GHz Extreme Edition - Speed and Temperature
No load and load testing

The new Pentium 4 Extreme Edition at 3.73GHz, again with out SpeedStep capability, idles at around 56oC with stock cooling in our open-air testbed. When loaded up with our Folding client, we see similar high-end temps at 73oC.  All of these tests above were conducted with a stock Intel heatsink and fan combo and a fresh application of thermal grease. HSF manufacturers will likely be coming up with a few elaborate designs to better cool Intel's HOT new flagship CPUs.

Test System Specifications
Top-End CPUs Square Off
SYSTEM 1:
Intel
Pentium 4 560 3.6GHz - LGA775
Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition  3.46GHz - LGA775
Intel Pentium 4 650 3.4GHz - LGA775
Intel Pentium 4 660 3.6GHz - LGA775
Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.73GHz - LGA775

ASUS P5AD2-E

i925XE Motherboard

2x512MB Corsair DDR2 533 PC2-4300

CL 3, 3, 3, 8

NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT


On-board 10/100 Ethernet
On-board Audio

WD "Raptor" 36GB Hard Drive
10,000 RPM SATA

Windows XP Pro SP2
NVIDIA Forceware v66.93
DirectX 9.0c
SYSTEM 2:
Intel
Pentium 4 560 3.6GHz - LGA775
Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition  3.46GHz - LGA775
Intel Pentium 4 650 3.4GHz - LGA775
Intel Pentium 4 660 3.6GHz - LGA775
Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.73GHz - LGA775

ASUS P5AD2-E

i925XE Motherboard

2x512MB Corsair DDR2 533 PC2-4300

CL 3, 3, 3, 8

NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT


On-board 10/100 Ethernet
On-board Audio

WD "Raptor" 36GB Hard Drive
10,000 RPM SATA

Windows XP Pro x64 Edition
NVIDIA Forceware v66.96
DirectX 9.0c
SYSTEM 3:
AMD Athlon 64 4000+
AMD Athlon 64 FX-55

Gigabyte K8NXP-SLI
nForce 4 Motherboard

2x512MB Corsair XMS PC3200 RAM
CL 2, 2, 2, 5
 
NVIDIA GeForce 6800 GT
 
On-board 10/100 Ethernet
On-board Audio

WD "Raptor" 36GB Hard Drive
10,000 RPM SATA
 
Windows XP Pro SP2
NVIDIA Forceware v66.93
DirectX 9.0c

Windows XP Pro x64 Edition
NVIDIA Forceware v66.96
DirectX 9.0c

 

Transparent
Synthetics - SiSoft Sandra and 3DMark CPU Test

 

SiSoft Sandra is our first test of the Pentium 4 660 and Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.37GHz chips. The following tests were all done in standard Windows XP Pro 32-bit mode.

SiSoft Sandra
Synthetic Testing Performance Snapshot

 

Pentium 4 660 (3.6GHz) - CPU, Multimedia, Memory, and Cache Tests

 

Pentium 4 3.73GHz Extreme Edition - CPU, Multimedia, Memory, and Cache Tests

The P4 660 and P4 EE 3.73 post CPU and Multimedia test scores right on top of or slightly above similarly clocked Prescott core processors in the reference listings of Sandra. A P4 660 is actually a bit faster than a P4 560, and the 3.73GHz Extreme Edition posts right in line with a P4 570, which is actually clocked at 3.8GHz. In Memory and cache testing they also put up very robust performance numbers, especially the P4 EE 3.73, which shows an impressive 6568MBps of memory bandwidth in Sandra's Stream based Memory benchmark.

3DMark05 CPU Test
Synthetic CPU Gaming Test

For a simple synthetic CPU test, we chose Futuremark's 3DMark05 CPU Test module.  Here's a refresher from a Futuremark White Paper on 3DMark05, which covers this section of the test suite:

"As in the previous 3DMark version, the CPU test runs game tests in low resolution using software vertex processing and disabled post-processing. This decreases the graphics card workload, and makes the test result reflect above all the CPU's performance rendering 3D scenes and performing other 3D game related tasks like performing matrix calculations. The CPU test also uses fixed frame rendering to further ensure the workload stays the same for all systems."
 

The Pentium 4s all sweep this synthetic gaming test, with the new 6XX sequence P4s showing muscle in their 2MB L2 caches. Interestingly a 3.4GHz P4 650 is about as fast as a 3.6GHz P4 560 chip in this test, and the older Gallatin core-based 3.46GHz Extreme Edition P4 struggles to keep pace with the 650, as well.

Transparent
Cinebench Rendering and Kribibench 3D Modeling

 

Next we used the KribiBench benchmark produced by Adept Development. KribiBench is an SSE aware software renderer. A 3D model is rendered and animated by the host CPU, and the average frames per second are reported. We used two of the included models with this benchmark: the "Sponge Exploded" model consistenting of 19.2 million polygons and their massive "Ultra" model consisting of 16 billion polygons.

Kribibench v1.1
Details: www.adeptdevelopment.com

Note: P4 3.46GHz EE=Gallatin Core | P4 3.73GHz=Prescott 2M Core

 

Note: P4 3.46GHz EE=Gallatin Core | P4 3.73GHz=Prescott 2M Core

Kribibench is another test scenario where the Pentium 4 reins supreme. Of note here, however, is the fact that the P4 EE 3.46GHz chip with its shorter pipelined Gallatin core,  2.5MB of on-chip cache and 1066MHz FSB, takes the gold in both test models. After that it's a battle of clock speeds. Overall the Pentium 4s are 5% to 15% faster in the Kribi Engine than the highest-end Athlon 64 chips.

Cinebench 2003 Performance Tests
3D Modeling & Rendering Tests

The Cinebench 2003 benchmark is an OpenGL 3D rendering performance test, based on the Cinema 4D Modeling, Animation, and Rendering software suite. This is a multithreaded, multiprocessor-aware benchmark that renders a single 3D scene and tracks the length of the entire process. The time it took each test system to render the entire scene is represented in the graph below (listed in seconds). We ran two sets of numbers, one in single-thread mode and another in the benchmark's multithread mode for our Hyper-Threading-enabled P4 test systems. The Athlon 64s are only capable of running the single-thread test.


Note: P4 3.46GHz EE=Gallatin Core | P4 3.73GHz=Prescott 2M Core

 

In single-threaded mode, the Athlon 64s play havoc with even the fastest Pentium 4s.  But then again you wouldn't limit a P4 to single threaded processing, if you didn't specifically have to.  Beyond that, we can see that again the P4 EE 3.46GHz chip is currently Intel's fastest offering for Cinema 4D users. Even though it is clocked nearly 300MHz faster, the new P4 Extreme Edition 3.73GHz is some 5% slower than the older Gallatin core-version CPU.

Transparent
DiVX Video and MP3 Audio Encoding - XMPEG and Lame MP3

 

Next we have video encoding tests in store for the new P4 6XX and Extreme Edition CPUs. The scores listed below were generated using an MPEG 2 format video clip converting it to DivX format with version 5.2.1 of the DiVX CODEC with the XMPEG utility. The results below are reported in frame rate speeds. Higher scores equal better performance.

Benchmarks with XMPEG / DivX v5.2.1
Video Encoding Performance

 


Note: P4 3.46GHz EE=Gallatin Core | P4 3.73GHz=Prescott 2M Core

As video and audio encoding have perennially been a strong suit for the P4, the results are no surprise to those of you who frequent sites such as HotHardware.com. Additionally, the newer version DiVX CODEC has better-than-ever Pentium 4 optimizations included now. Here all the P4s smoke the Athlon 64, and it's simply a clock-speed race in every case. The only somewhat significant data-point here is that the P4 660 is ever-so-slightly faster than the P4 560.

LAME MP3 Encoding Tests: Single & Multitasking
Converting a Large WAV To MP3

In our custom Lame MP3 tests, we convert a large audio file to MP3 format, which is a very popular scenario that many end users work with on a regular basis. In this test, we chose a 223MB WAV file (a never-ending Grateful Dead jam) and converted it to an MP3. Processing times are recorded below. Shorter times equate to better performance.


Note: P4 3.46GHz EE=Gallatin Core | P4 3.73GHz=Prescott 2M Core

To coin a phrase from "Yogi," it's like deja-vu all over again", and the Gallatin core Extreme Edition P4 at 3.46GHz boasts the best score of the bunch, even besting the Athlon FX-55.  From there, once again, it's all about clock speeds among the P4s.  Even the new 6XX sequence chips don't offer any advantage over legacy Prescott cores in our Lame MP3 encode test.

Transparent
3D Rendering - 3ds max 7 and Multitasking

 

3ds max, otherwise known as 3D Studio Max, is a 3D Modeling and Rendering suite that is widely used by DCC (digital content creation) professionals around the world. It is a very popular tool suite in 3D animation for game developers and offers leading-edge features such as the creation of normal maps and utilizing DX9 shaders.

3ds max 7 Rendering Test
3D Modeling and 3D Modeling with MP3 Encode Multitask

In this benchmark we load up a 3D-modeled ape character that is rendered in a six-pass workload, with times recorded down to the second.

Note: P4 3.46GHz EE=Gallatin Core | P4 3.73GHz=Prescott 2M Core

Once again clock speed is the largest influence on this test, in terms of Pentium 4 performance, with the repeatable exception of the P4EE 3.46GHz chip and its shorter pipelined core. The Pentium 4 EE 3.73GHz chip is about 4% faster than the Athlon FX-55, and the 3.6GHz P4 660 and 560 are about 7% faster than an Athlon 64 4000+ in 3ds max.

Next we fired up our own little multitasking scenario and proceeded to re-render the same model in 3ds max but this time with our Lame MP3 conversion running simultaneously in the background. The results may surprise you.

This is a very interesting test because it shows you the balanced smoothness of Intel's Hyper-Threading technology in action. In an effort to keep this chart easy on the eyes, we've only included scores versus the Athlon 64s, from the newest Pentium 4 that are featured in this article. As you can see, although the Athlon 64 FX-55 and 4000+ drop in with fastest 3ds max scores, they also posted significantly longer Lame MP3 recording times, which if you were paying attention on the previous page, you'll note are actually double that of our single-threaded Lame MP3 test. What we're witnessing here from the Pentium 4 camp is a significantly more balanced allocation of processing resources dedicated to both our 3D Studio Max and MP3 encoding workloads. If you multitask--and let's face it, unless you're gaming, who doesn't?--these new Pentium 4 6XX Sequence and Extreme Edition CPUs are quite adept at keeping things on an even keel, more so than the Athlon 64.

Transparent
Content Creation Winstone and World Bench 5 Photoshop 7

 

Next we have a few Content Creation-based tests with CC Winstones and World Bench 5's Adobe Photoshop test.

Business & Content Creation Winstones
Real-World Application Performance

 The PC Magazine Content Creation Winstone 2004 test utilizes the following applications in its benchmark:

  • Adobe Photoshop 7.0.1
  • Adobe Premiere 6.50
  • Macromedia Director MX 9.0
  • Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 6.1
  • Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 9
  • NewTek's LightWave 3D 7.5b
  • Steinberg WaveLab 4.0f

 


Note: P4 3.46GHz EE=Gallatin Core | P4 3.73GHz=Prescott 2M Core

The added low-latency L2 cache of the Pentium 4 6XX Sequence and Extreme Edition CPUs offer a touch more performance in Veritest's Content Creation Winstones but not enough to catch the Athlon 64s in these legacy types of applications.

World Bench 5: Photoshop 7 Module
Content Creation and  Image Editing Performance

 

Note: P4 3.46GHz EE=Gallatin Core | P4 3.73GHz=Prescott 2M Core

World Bench 5's Photoshop 7 test, a subset of the CC Winstone test above, actually, shows that the added L2 cache of these new P4 CPUs, in legacy applications that aren't specifically compiled for the new P4 architecture, offers only modest improvements in performance. Once again we see the 3.46GHz Extreme Edition Gallatin core P4 just edge out the P4EE 3.73GHz Prescott 2M core processor.

Transparent
Worldbench 5 - Multitasking and Office XP

 

Our next few tests with the World Bench 5 test suite offer insight into more current desktop computing usage models that are present in the every-day business world. In these tests we'll cover multitasking workloads showcasing Web browsing while encoding, as well as standard Microsoft Office XP application tests.

World Bench 5: Multitasking & Office XP
General Desktop and Business App Performance


Note: P4 3.46GHz EE=Gallatin Core | P4 3.73GHz=Prescott 2M Core

The larger cache-equipped Pentium 4s show their strength in this multitasking test scenario, but the Athlon FX-55 also puts up quite a fight. Here the Athlon FX-55 is about on par with the P4 660. Additionally, the 3.4GHz P4 650 shows its additional on-chip L2 cache bolsters better overall performance than even a 3.6GHz P4 560.

 


Note: P4 3.46GHz EE=Gallatin Core | P4 3.73GHz=Prescott 2M Core

In Office XP we're not playing games, but it is definitely game over for the Athlons, surprisingly, in World Bench 5's Microsoft Office XP SP-2 test.  The Pentium 4 6XX and 3.73GHz Extreme Edition processors are some 2% to 5% faster than the Athlon 64 in this benchmark.

Transparent
3DMark05 and UT2004

 

Finally, the tests we're sure many of you have been waiting for. Do the new Pentium 4 6XX Sequence and Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.73GHz processors have what it takes on the gaming battlefront? Let's have a look at that next.

Unreal Tournament 2004
DirectX 8 Gaming Performance

Note: P4 3.46GHz EE=Gallatin Core | P4 3.73GHz=Prescott 2M Core

Unreal Tournament 2004 has always and forever been an AMD Athlon 64-favored test, no matter how you slice it, so we're not seeing anything new here. Beyond that, as you'll note, the additional 1MB of L2 cache offers a smallish performance gain for the 6XX series chips, and here the 3.73GHz P4 EE is only about on par with a 3.46GHz P4 EE, even though it has a significant clock speed advantage. 

3DMark05 Default Gaming Test
DirectX 8/9 Gaming Performance

 


Note: P4 3.46GHz EE=Gallatin Core | P4 3.73GHz=Prescott 2M Core

And 3DMark05 from Futuremark shows similar results with the exception that performance is more closely tied to clock cycles among the Pentium 4 entries. The Pentium 4 660 looks to be the sweet spot for the new P4 lineup, offering 99% of the new Extreme Edition P4's performance. The P4 650 puts up a solid showing, as well but nothing nothing from the P4 side of the river is within striking distance of the Athlon 64.

Transparent
Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 Tests

 

If there is any company that can optimize a game engine on various processor platforms, it's Id Software. Doom 3 multiplayer testing is next.

Benchmarks with Doom 3
OpenGL Gaming Performance

 


Note: P4 3.46GHz EE=Gallatin Core | P4 3.73GHz=Prescott 2M Core

Finally we see the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.73GHz processor live up to its branding and give the Athlon FX-55 a real hard time for the number-one spot. It seems Doom 3 favors cache latency and then clock speed, in that order, as the 3.46GHz Extreme Edition also steps up to challenge the Athlon 64 4000+. Finally, the additional L2 cache of the P4 660 bought us only another 2fps over the P4 560 in this CPU-limited gaming test.

Benchmarks with Half-Life 2
DirectX 9 Gaming Performance

Known as "the other gaming benchmark" these days, Half-Life 2 challenges the host processor probably as much as the graphics card in our test systems. As we'll show you next, the field spreads out a bit from a performance point of view.


Note: P4 3.46GHz EE=Gallatin Core | P4 3.73GHz=Prescott 2M Core

Larger caches and higher clock speeds once again offer a modest performance gain for the new P4 architecture in Half-Life, but here we see our old friend the P4EE 3.46GHz post the best score in the Intel offeringRegardless it's a proverbial sweep here for the Athlon 64, which once again proves itself a definitively stronger gaming CPU, clock for clock.

Transparent
64-bit Testing SiSoftware Sandra

 

Next we set up a fresh install of the latest Windows XP Pro x64 Edition RC1 build to test out Intel's EM64T extensions in any scenario we could possibly exercise them in. Unfortunately there are very few 64-bit applications or benchmarks on the market, but SiSoft Sandra is one of them with an x86-64 install version available.

SiSoft Sandra - 64-bit Edition
Synthetic Testing Performance Windows XP Pro x64

 

 

Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.73GHz - 64-bit Tests
CPU, Multimedia and Memory Benchmarks

    

 

Reference Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.73GHz - 32-bit Tests
CPU, Multimedia and Memory Benchmarks

    

 

Sandra's CPU and Multimedia tests show measurable performance gains with the Pentium 4 running in 64-bit mode with Windows XP Pro x64, even though the OS and associated drivers are still very much in beta stage from Microsoft. However, system Memory performance is not really affected either way.

Transparent
64-bit Testing 3ds max 7

 

Next we ran through our 3D Studio Max tests again but within the Windows XP Pro x64 environment.  Again, in these tests we'll can only compare the new P4 6XX series and Extreme Edition CPUs to their Athlon 64 counterparts, since these are the only chips capable of supporting 64-bit extensions.

3ds max 7 Rendering Test - 64-bit mode
3D Modeling and 3D Modeling with MP3 Encode Multitask

As you can easily see, 64-bit OS-based performance with this native 32-bit application is just slightly slower than the 32-bit version of Windows XP at this time on either processor architecture from AMD or Intel. Furthermore, the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition and Pentium 4 660 maintain their positions relatively in the performance spread for this test.

 

Transparent
64-bit Testing DiVX Encode - XMPEG

 

We've been told that there's a publicly available 64-bit version of DiVX, but we certainly couldn't get our hands on it in time for testing. So the following test is a 32-bit DiVX encode driven in Windows XP Pro x64 Edition.

Benchmarks with XMPEG / DivX v5.2.1 - 64-bit mode
Video Encoding Performance

Much the same as we saw in our 3D Studio Max 64-bit test, the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition and Pentium 4 660 have a commanding lead over the Athlon 64s. As is also the case here, we see 64-bit OS performance with this 32-bit application test; looks to be about 4% to 5% slower for the Pentium 4. However, the Athlon 64, not surprisingly because it has had longer to mature in the 64-bit space, takes much less of a hit between 32- and 64-bit modes.

 

Transparent
64-bit Gaming - Doom 3 and Half-Life 2

 

 

Benchmarks with Doom 3 - 64-bit mode
OpenGL Gaming Performance

32-bit gaming under Windows XP Pro x86 Edition is a very different ball of wax for these new Pentium 4 processors. In our Doom 3 tests in 64-bit mode, the Pentium 4 drops back 20% from its 32-bit scores whereas the Athlon 64 only gives up about 10%. Once again, however, it's almost speculative to judge all that much because the OS is beta and this is the P4's first release with EM64T support. 

 

Benchmarks with Half-Life 2 - 64-bit mode
DirectX 9 Gaming Performance

More of the same here, with the same relative scale in performance degradation between the Pentium 4 and Athlon 64. If you're a gamer, there's no use delving into the world of beta 64-bit OSes at this point in time. Let's move along.

 

Transparent
P4 Overclocking Fun - 4GHz and Beyond!

 

We decided to have some fun with these two new Pentium 4 chips and were actually amazed at what they had in store for us in the magical land of overclocking.

Overclocking
OC'ing The P4 660 and P4 EE 3.73GHz To The Max

 

P4 660 (3.6GHz) - 4.25GHz Stock Air-Cooled HSF

    

237MHz FSB - 626MHz DDR

 

 

P4 3.73GHz Extreme Edition - 4.20GHz Stock Air-Cooled HSF

    

300MHz FSB - 600MHz DDR

 

At first it was hard to believe these two processors were relatively stable at these clock speeds, but indeed they were. We ran our Folding client again at 100% load, and the system held up for about half an hour of testing on our open-air bench test setup. Frankly we wouldn't dare run at these speeds inside a closed chassis because core temps were reaching a scorching 80oC.  However, with a bit more elaborate cooling solution, especially watercooling or even a Vapochill, these processors should be able to hit these clocks speeds, and dare we say higher, without too much trouble. In our mind, a reasonable overclock expectation in a closed chassis with air cooling would be around the 4GHz mark. Either way, these new Prescott 2M core CPUs have a ton of headroom for overclocking enthusiasts.

Transparent
Benchmark Summary And Conclusion

 

Benchmark Summary:

Looking back at our test scores gives us a sense that this iteration of the Pentium 4 Prescott processor core is significantly more balanced than prior versions. The new Pentium 4 6XX Sequence and Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.37GHz CPUs offered a bit more performance in gaming scenarios but not enough to catch AMD's fastest Athlon 64 chips at what they do best. And again, when it comes to media encoding or conversion, 3D rendering and modeling, and many newer standard business applications, the Pentium 4 extends it lead today with these new additions to the Intel lineup. Especially in common multitasking workloads and usage models, with an OS that supports Hyper-Threading, the Pentium 4 obviously is at its best.

Intel's price list for these new Pentium 4 Processors that will go out to the channel today is as follows:

  • Pentium 4 Extreme Ed. 3.73GHz - HT Technology 3.73GHz, 1066MHz, 2MB L2 - $999   
  • Pentium 4 660 - HT Technology, 3.60GHz, 800MHz, 2MB L2 - $605
  • Pentium 4 650 - HT Technology, 3.40GHz, 800MHz, 2MB L2 - $401
  • Pentium 4 640 - HT Technology, 3.20GHz, 800MHz, 2MB L2 - $273
  • Pentium 4 630 - HT Technology, 3GHz, 800MHz, 2MB L2 - $224  

Considering these price points, we'd say P4 650 and 640 chips are the sweet spot, and with a full 2MB of L2 cache on board, you'll get solid gaming performance in addition to the great multithreaded capabilities of the P4. And with the introduction of Intel's EM64T extensions, you'll be ready for the 64-bit desktop, whenever that becomes feasible in any way, shape, or form. Add to that the ability to SpeedStep down when idle to keep things generally cooler inside your chassis, and all told the P4 6XX Sequence family, as Intel likes to call them, is representative of some very nice refinements of a CPU core that needed a good ol' mid-life kicker.

The Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.73GHz chip is a bit of a mixed bag however, showing sometimes faster and sometimes slower performance than its other previously released Extreme Edition siblings based on the Gallatin P4 core.  Not to mention its price tag that was handing down through the generations.  But then again, for enthusiasts, there is the allure of overclocking with this new CPU, which clearly has new-found capabilities beyond that which Gallatin could offer with its shorter pipeline. 

In any event, Intel has delivered new architectural innovation and higher performance to its line of Pentium 4 processors for the consumer desktop market with these new introductions today but they still haven't found a way to catch the Athlon 64 in the gaming space. Next up on the Intel roadmap of technological wonder are Pentium 4 Dual Core "Smithfield" CPUs, with what we've heard are essentially dual 90nm Prescotts on a single integrated die... with Hyper-Threading possibly?  Stay with us and you'll be sure to find out!

Get into HotHardware's PC Hardware Forum and Air It Out!



Content Property of HotHardware.com