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📄 Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Farewell to the Pentium 4: Intel Pentium D and Pentium Extreme Edition
  3. AMD Athlon 64 X2
  4. Benefits of Multiple Processors
  5. Conclusion
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Farewell to the Pentium 4: Intel Pentium D and Pentium Extreme Edition

The first thing you might notice about Intel's new dual-core processors, introduced on April 18, 2005, is that they no longer are part of the Pentium 4 family. In my view, this is long overdue. If you read the processor chapter in Upgrading and Repairing PCs, 16th Edition or review my previous articles on the Pentium 4:"The Pentium 4 adds 64-bit Extensions,"

"Discovering the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition,"

"Breaking the 3 GHz Barrier with the Pentium 4 Processor,"

"Faster AMD and Intel Processors Are Coming, Can You Upgrade?"

"Intel's Pentium 4 – An Upgrader's Perspective,"

it's easy to see that there have actually been at least six distinct Pentium 4 generations when you look at the most significant technology changes:

  • Socket 423
  • Socket 478
  • Socket 478 Hyper-Threading Technology
  • Socket 478 Extreme Edition (L3 cache)
  • Socket 775
  • Socket 775 EM64T (64-bit extensions)

For some time now, it's been obvious that "Pentium 4" has been far more of a brand than a single processor family, leading to endless confusion when users have considered processor upgrades or new system purchases.

It appears those days are over, at least in part. As far as Intel's concerned, there's still enough juice in the venerable Pentium brand to keep using it as part of the new processor names.

Pentium D Versus Pentium Extreme Edition

The Pentium D (code-named "Smithfield") is designed as a dual-core follow-up to the Pentium 4, while the Pentium Extreme Edition (code-named "Glenwood") is a dual-core successor to the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition. However, these chips are more similar to each other than their predecessors.

Both chips feature:

  • EM64T 64-bit extensions
  • Two 90nm (0.09 micron) Prescott P4 cores using the front-side bus to communicate with each other
  • 800MHz front-side bus
  • Execute Disable bit

The major differences between the Pentium Extreme Edition and the Pentium D is the Pentium Extreme Edition's support for hyper-threading (HT Technology) and support for clock-multiplier-based overclocking. You can learn more about HT Technology in my article "The Intel 845 Chipset Family,". The general block diagram of these processors is illustrated in Figure 1.

Figure 1

Figure 1 A block diagram of the Intel Pentium D and Pentium Extreme Edition processors.

Table 1 compares the features of the currently-announced Pentium D and Pentium Extreme Edition processors to the fastest Pentium 4 and Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processors with EM64T (64-bit extensions).

Table 1 – Pentium D / Pentium Extreme Edition Comparison

Processor Name/Model Number

Pentium D Model 820

Pentium D Model 830

Pentium D Model 840

Pentium 4 Model 660

Pentium Extreme Edition Model 840

Pentium 4 Extreme Edition

Dual-Core

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

No

Clock Speed

2.8GHz

3.0GHz

3.2GHz

3.6GHz

3.2GHz

3.73GHz

HT Technology

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

L2 Cache size per core

1MB

1MB

1MB

N/A

2MB

N/A

Total L2 Cache Size

2MB

2MB

2MB

1MB

2MB

2MB

Socket 775

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

FSB Speed

800MHz

800MHz

800MHz

800MHz

800MHz

1066MHz

Unlocked Clock Multipliers

No

No

No

No

Yes

No

Note that the fastest Intel Pentium 4 and Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processors are a good bit faster than the Pentium D and Pentium Extreme Edition processors. The Pentium D and Pentium Extreme Edition processors run hotter than single-core Prescott chips (after all, they contain two Prescott cores in one processor), and reducing the clock speed helps keep the thermal load on the system to a maximum of 130 watts.

Moving to the Pentium D or Pentium Extreme Edition

Although the Pentium D and Pentium Extreme Edition use the same Socket 775 as recent Pentium 4 and Celeron D processors, you cannot upgrade by simply swapping processors on an existing motherboard. The pinout of the processor socket has been modified slightly to support dual-core operation, so a new motherboard using a dual-core aware chipset is required.

Currently, there are two chipsets that support the Pentium D and Pentium Extreme Edition processors:

  • Intel 955X (code-named "Anchor Creek")
  • NVIDIA nForce 4 SLI (Intel Edition)

Intel will introduce less powerful chipsets for these processors, the 945 series, later in 2005. Table 2 compares the major features of these chipsets.

Table 2 – Dual-Core Chipsets Compared

Chipset

Feature

Intel 955X Express

nVIDIA nForce4 SLI Intel Edition

FSB

800/1066MHz

Same

PCI-Express x16

Yes; supports dual x16 with bridge

Yes; or two PCI-Express x8 in SLI mode

PCI-Express x1

6 slots

3 slots

Audio

Intel High-Definition (Azalia) 7.1 audio

AC97 7.1 audio

USB 2.0

8 ports

10 ports

Memory

Dual-channel DDR2-667

Dual-channel DDR2-667

Max memory size

8GB

16GB

ECC support

Yes

No

SATA

4 ports

4 ports

ATA/IDE (PATA)

1 port

2 ports

RAID

Matrix storage (0, 1, 5, 10, AHCI)

0, 1, 0+1, 5

Ethernet

Optional 10/100 or Gigabit ethernet via PCI-Express x1 or onboard codec

Gigabit

Integrated firewall

No

Yes

The 2.8GHz Pentium D processor will sell initially for $241, about half the cost of the lowest-cost Athlon 64 X2 ($537), which I cover in the next section. However, much of the apparent cost advantage in upgrading an existing system will be eaten up in the additional costs of motherboard purchase, installation, and reinstallation of Windows. However, the Pentium D will be very attractive as a desktop processor in new systems.

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