Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 955 & 975X Express Chipset: 65nm is Here

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Our Summary & Conclusion

Benchmark Summary: The Pentium Extreme Edition 955 processor performed well overall throughout our entire battery of benchmarks. Due to the processor's relatively high-clock speed, dual execution cores, HT technology and 1066MHz bus, the synthetic benchmarks, 3D rendering tests, and audio encoding tests ran best on the Pentium Extreme Edition 955 / D975XBX platform.  However, most of the gaming tests, content creation and desktop applications, and the video encoding tests ran best on the AMD Athlon 64 X2 / NF4 SLIX16 combo.

Although Intel has announced that their Netburst architecture will be abandoned sometime in the second half of 2006, in favor of a new architecture with lower power requirements and a shorter pipeline, there is still some life left in Netburst. Over the next few weeks and months, Intel will be introducing not only the Pentium Extreme Edition 955, but a number Presler based dual-core processors at speeds ranging from 2.8GHz on up to 3.4GHz. These new dual-core CPUs will all feature dual-2MB L2 caches (4MB total), and will all be built using Intel 65nm manufacturing process, which should appeal to the overclockers among you. Intel will also be releasing a whole line of new single-core processors based on the Cedar Mill core which should not only be less expensive than current Pentium 6xx series processors, but also less power hungry and very overclockable as well.

Intel tells us the Pentium Extreme Edition 955 will be available on January 16, for an MSRP of $999. At just a hair under a grand, the 955XE certainly isn't cheap, but of course we've become accustomed to paying a premium for the most powerful desktop processors from both Intel and AMD upon initial launch. The Pentium Extreme Edition 955 handily outpaced the single-core 3.73GHz Extreme Edition in the vast majority of the tests we ran, and it outpaced the dual-core Pentium Extreme Edition 840 in every single test, occasionally by a significant margin thanks to its higher core clock speeds, faster bus, and 4MB of L2 cache. The Pentium Extreme Edition 955 also consumed far less power than the 840 XE, which means the 955 offers far better performance per watt as well. Ultimately, although the Pentium Extreme Edition 955 improves upon Intel's previous flagship dual-core offering in virtually every way, AMD still has an edge in our opinion with the Athlon 64 X2. The Athon 64 X2 4800+ was the faster CPU in a majority of our real-world tests, and it consumed less power to boot. Intel's future looks bright, however. It's clear that their new 65nm manufacturing process is quickly ramping up. If the company is able to introduced higher-clocked Preslers and release their next-gen architecture sooner than initial estimates, '06 could be a very good year for Intel.

_Dual-Core with HT
_64-Bit Support
_Audio Encoding Performance
_Lower Power Consumption than Smithfield
_65nm Manufacturing Process
_AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ Still Faster Overall

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