Intel Prescott P4 3.2GHz and P4 EE 3.4GHz

Article Index

Intel Prescott P4 3.2GHz and P4 EE 3.4GHz - Page 7

Intel Pentium 4 3.2GHz Prescott
And Pentium 4 3.4GHz  Extreme Edition
Significant changes in P4 architecture bring future scalability

By, Dave Altavilla
February 1, 2004


Over time, we've come to find that, while Quake 3 engine based games tend to favor the Pentium 4, it can be said that Epic's Unreal gaming engine likes to run on Athlons a bit better.  We're not sure why that is but we'll let the numbers speak for themselves.

Unreal Tournament 2003
DirectX Gaming Performance

This time Prescott hangs tough with its Northwood based sibling and comes in right next to it, well within this benchmark's margin of error.  An observation here is the gap between the Extreme Editions and the Northwood and Prescott cores.  Clearly, Prescott's deeper pipelines are squelching back performance but its larger 1MB of L2 cache is making up some of that ground.  Remember however, this won't matter nearly as much when Prescott's roll out at 3.6GHz and higher, with a small die size cost structure that will make them more appealing.  Finally, it's well worth noting that AMD's performance ratings for each of their CPUs, as far as these UT2003 numbers go, are right on target, with a decent lead for each Athlon shown within each processor class.

X2 The Threat Rolling Demo
DirectX 9 Gaming Performance

X2 The Threat's rolling demo is sort of where the rubber met the road for us gaming wise, with our 3.2GHz Prescott P4 and the new 3.4GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition.  This benchmark is based on a full game engine demo run of EgoSoft's new space combat simulator.  With tag lines like "Trade, Fight, Build, Think", you can bet it works the host processor hard, in addition to the graphics pipeline.  We turned down the resolution again to 640X480, so we put less strain on the graphics card, thus highlighting CPU performance more prominently. 


Here Prescott shows slightly better performance clock for clock versus the Northwood core and the large cache sizes for the P4 Extreme Editions also begin to pay off.  Here is another gaming situation however, where the Athlon 64 doesn't match up well versus the P4 at any clock speed or performance rating.  We could point to the developers at Egosoft for this variance, since perhaps their main development vehicle may have been the P4 and as a result, X2's engine code is better optimized for it.  However, that's only speculation on our part so we'll resign ourselves to letting you the reader make the call on your own.



Once testing was complete and as we embarked on the editorial process of our article for this processor launch, we almost coined the tag line for our piece "The Promise Of Prescott".  That is to say that the real story behind Prescott for the consumer, isn't so much about it's larger cache sizes, improved hyperthreading and new SS3 instructions, its more about that deeper 31 stage pipeline.  This deeper pipeline that, in the short term, is more of a hindrance to performance, will also allow the P4 to scale towards that mystical 4GHz clock speed later this year.  We're expecting to see 3.4GHz flavors any day now here at HotHardware and Intel is officially launching that speed bin as well.  In addition, the real turning point for the Prescott architecture will be when Intel takes the core to its new LGA-775 package, along with the Grantsdale and Alderwood chipsets, sometime in Q2 this year.  These new chipsets will bring the PCI Express bus/slot to graphics and never look back, with rumors of no AGP support and a hard cut over to the new bus being driven by Intel.  In addition they'll bring support for faster DDRII memory and a new ICH6 Southbridge supporting 4 channel Serial ATA with RAID functionality.  As we begin to see, Prescott is really about an entire platform migration effort, in addition to clock speed scalability for the Pentium 4.

The P4 Extreme Edition, as it exists today will provide top shelf no compromise performance at a continued hefty, almost unjustifiable price point.  It's performance is unquestionable but with prices ranging from the $700 range to almost $1K, it costs as much as an entire mainstream system would and that's just for the CPU alone.  Here's the pricing matrix Intel will be announcing in press releases later on today, for all of the new speeds and processor cores associated with this launch.

Take a close look at that 90nm 3.2GHz price point.  That average 3.2GHz Northwood P4 currently retails for around $290 with folks like our friends at NewEgg.  At a 1K unit price of $278, the retail price points we're envisioning for Prescott are compelling.  We've shown you today that Prescott seems to be faster in certain situations than a Northwood P4 based processor and slower in cases where cache sizes aren't taken advantage of and where legacy code is less efficient on the new deeper pipelined architecture.  And so, again we come back to this notion of "the promise of Prescott".  It most likely pays to sit on the sidelines just a bit longer, if you are looking to upgrade your current processor solution.  When Prescott moves to the new LGA-775 package in the first half of this year, you'll need a new motherboard to go with it but who can resist a 3.6GHz stock speed and potential overclocking results in the 4GHz area?  Drop in a new PCI Express based graphic card (yes those are coming soon too!), some DDR2 memory and life gets pretty rosy with all that new found bandwidth.  For now Prescott may seem like a bit of yawn performance wise in its current incarnation.  However, Prescott's promise is one that leaves us warm and fuzzy all over.  Now all we have to do is leave it up to Intel to execute.


Exercise your gray matter in HotHardware's
PC Hardware Forum!


Tags:  Intel, Pre, 4G, GHz, 3.2, P4, 4GHz, 2G, and

Related content