Intel's New 2.4GHz Pentium 4 Northwood
200MHz more, like a walk in the park

By, Dave Altavilla
April 2, 2002



When Intel released it's 2GHz and 2.2GHz Northwood Pentium 4 Processors, we were here to show you the finer points of increased on chip cache sizes and a few more MHz to play with.  At that point in time, did you ever think that a mere three months later, we would be back to show you Intel's flagship take another 200 steps in the right direction?  Well, to be honest, we've been in possession of the 2.4GHz variety of the Pentium 4 Northwood for about a month now.  So in all truth, Intel was yielding these chips even quicker than at a quarterly cycle rate.  We're not sure what's more impressive about the Pentium 4, the fact that it is easily the fastest processor clock speed in existent or perhaps the fact the Intel is just getting warmed up with this chip.  To think the Pentium 4 was introduced only about a year and a half ago and we are already getting close to double it's initially released clock speed.  Pentium II and Pentium III processors, were Intel's mainstream CPUs for how many years?  Headroom?  Oh Yes, one would say Intel has some headroom and legroom with this processor.  Intel's "Hyper Pipelined" architecture was built for speed, for years to come.

On the flip side, Intel's top end clock speed processors are always a little hard on the wallet, when they are first introduced.  AMD's Athlon with its fantastic cost/performance ratio is hard to beat.  As we have come to realize, in this economy, folks tend to look a little deeper beyond the clock speed.  So, the questions are how much faster is this new 2.4GHz drag racer from Intel and will it compete dollar for dollar, versus it's rival Athlon counterpart?  Let's have a look.

 

Specifications of the Pentium 4 2.4GHz. Pentium 4 Processor
Climbing the frequency curve to 3GHz - It won't be long...

  • Available at speeds ranging from 1.4GHz. to 2.4 GHz
  • Based upon Intels 0.13 micron manufacturing process
  • Now built on 300mm wafers for 2X die out per wafer and lower cost
  • 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 Intel 850 and i845 chipsets
  • Fully compatible with existing Intel Architecture-based software
  • Internet Streaming SIMD Extensions 2
  • Intel 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


   
300mm wafer
versus
older 200mm wafer
(courtesy, Intel Corp.)

Moore's Law, of the jungle -

Let's talk physics for a moment.  Don't get sleepy-eyed on us either.  Perhaps this is a bit of a history lesson as well.  Alright, so maybe history isn't your bag either.  Well then, we'll pass out the Red Bull and Mountain Dew smoothies and keep moving here.  Way back when in the mid 1960s, a gentleman by the name of Gordon Moore, then working as a Director of R&D for Fairchild Semiconductor, came out with his famous quote to the press.  Moore stated that he expected transistor density per Integrated Circuit to double every 18 - 24 months.  Today, Mr. Moore's  prediction is affectionately referred to now as "Moore's Law".  As you may be aware, ol' Gordon was right on with his prediction as well.  

Let's take a quick peek at Intel's history with PC processor technology and the number of transistors they have squeezed into each die over the years.

It seems as if Gordon Moore's vision, as the co-founder of Intel Corp in 1968, was not too far from the mark.  The new Northwood core Pentium 4 processors have 55 million transistors. So it seems, that Intel is showing no sign of slowing down versus Moore's Law, anytime soon. 

We should also note that along with these higher performance processors, with all those millions of transistors, the engineers at Intel have been working to drive cost down.  Intel's new .13 micron manufacturing processes combined with their new 300mm wafer production capability, affords Intel the ability to produce 5 times the number of P4 dice per wafer, versus the older .18 micron 200mm Willamette wafers.  We'll simplify that equation for you with one word, "cost".  More dice per wafer equals lower costs in the reseller channel.

That's enough talk about the Pentium 4 Northwood processor.  Let's walk the walk...

Processor ID, Over-Clocking and Preliminary Tests