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

During the course of the year in 2003, AMD and Intel were engaged in a rigorous competition of raw MHz versus IPC (instructions per clock cycle) marketing.  While Intel had taken the road of brute force computing, with the Pentium 4's "Hyper-Pipeline" architecture, AMD was still selling on performance metrics not directly tied to clock speeds.  A 2.2GHz Athlon CPU chiming in with a "3200+" branding is at first glance, a tough sell.  However, the benchmarks and leading indicators in performance told a story that was easy to digest.  As such, AMD continued to make a deeper dent in Intel's market share.  When AMD introduced the Athlon 64 architecture to the world in Q3 '03, Intel spokespeople scoffed that 64 bit computing wouldn't be required on the average desktop for at least a year.  However, that year is quickly evaporating and the Athlon 64's integrated memory controller, 64KB instruction and data caches, and up to 1MB of L2 cache, certainly put the heat on Intel at its launch.  AMD's roadmap was marching on and it was time for Intel to answer. 

The first response to the Athlon 64 FX-51 specifically, was Intel's new Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processor, with its huge additional 2MB of on board L3 cache.  There is no question this CPU, like the Opteron sibling Athlon 64 FX-51, is an expensive server class processor targeted at the high end enthusiast desktop market.  Intel's only immediate countermeasure for that integrated Athlon 64 memory controller, was fattening up on chip cache, bringing similar latency reducing results.  Integrating a memory controller is a risky business that Intel didn't want to engage in again any time soon, since it means pigeon-holing the CPU to a specific memory architecture, a lessoned learned from their trials and tribulations with RDRAM.  Instead, once again Intel took the brute force approach with the P4 EE.  But the P4 EE, with its cost structure, is certainly not Intel's broad market appeal flagship CPU.  The promise of Prescott was waiting in the wings and today that wait is over.

Today, we're going to give you a look at the features and performance of the new Pentium 4 3.2GHz processor, based on Intel's new Prescott core.  In addition, Intel has given the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition a bit more gas, releasing a 3.4GHz speed bin to the power hungry enthusiast set, where cost is secondary.  In the pages ahead, we'll show you what both of these new Pentium 4 processors can do versus the best of what the Athlon 64 has to offer.

Specifications of the Intel Pentium 4 Prescott Processor
Larger caches, optimized branch prediction, deeper pipeline and a 90nm process
  • Clock speeds starting at 3.4GHz, 3.2GHz,  3GHz, and 2.8GHz
  • New .09 micron "Strained SI" manufacturing process
  • Improved Hyperthreading Technology
  • 1MB on chip, Full Speed L2 Cache
  • Increased 16KB L1 Data Cache
  • Streaming SIMD Extensions - SSE2 and 13 new SSE3 Instructions
  • 31 stage "Hyper Pipelined" Technology for extremely high clock speeds
  • 800MHz "Quad Pumped" Front Side Bus
  • Rapid Execution Engine - ALU clocked at 2X frequency of core
  • 128bit Floating Point/Multimedia unit
  • Intel "NetBurst" micro-architecture
  • Supported by the Intel i875P and i865G chipsets, with Hyperthreading support
  • 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
  • 1.25 - 1.4V operating voltage range
  • 89 - 103 Watts max power dissipation
  • Transistor count: 125 million
  • Die size: 112 mm2

P4 Prescott Die

Pentium 4 Prescott

478 Pin mPGA Package


Specifications of the Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.4GHz Processor
Increased Core Clock Speed
  • Clock speeds starting at 3.4GHz and 3.2GHz
  • .13 micron manufacturing process
  • Hyperthreading Technology
  • 512kB on chip, Full Speed L2 Cache
  • 2MB on chip, Full Speed L3 Cache
  • 8KB L1 Data Cache
  • Streaming SIMD Extensions - SSE2 Only
  • 20 stage "Hyper Pipelined" Technology
  • 800MHz "Quad Pumped" Front Side Bus
  • Rapid Execution Engine - ALU clocked at 2X frequency of core
  • 128bit Floating Point/Multimedia unit
  • Intel "NetBurst" micro-architecture
  • Supported by the Intel i875P and i865G chipsets, with Hyperthreading support
  • 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
  • 1.525 - 1.6V operating voltage range
  • 102.9 Watts max power dissipation
  • Transistor count: 178 million
  • Die size: 237 mm2

Pentium 4 Extreme Edition

478 Pin mPGA Package


The P4 Extreme Edition can be summed up fairly quickly.  Think of it as a Northwood core Pentium 4 on steroids.  The only difference here is the clock speed, which is now the highest bin part in Intel's line-up currently at 3.4GHz, as well as it's 2MB of integrated L3 cache.  This additional on chip cache actually has as much of an impact on performance, as you'll see in the pages ahead, as its 200MHz speed bump at 3.4GHz.

The major differences between the Prescott and Northwood (as well as the P4 EE "Gallatin") cores, are its significantly deeper 31 stage pipeline, increased cache sizes and new SSE3 instructions.  An interesting observation here is that the new 90nm Prescott core is less than half the die size of the P4 Extreme Edition die, at 112 square millimeters versus 237 square millimeters.  There's more ground to cover here as well however, so we'll dig in a bit deeper next.  

Prescott's New Architecture And Enhancements