Those Photos we love
No review is complete without some pictures to accompany them, so here are our babies with a little info on the side.
The CPU, Nothing has changed
As you can see the packaging has stayed the same. Simple mPGA 478 with heatspreader so you don't kill your P4 when installing huge heatsinks. This was given the biggest praise when Intel released the P4 with heatspreader. Celeron and P3 FC-PGA were among the most killed processors in Intel history, not by overclocking or reckless behavior, but by simply applying the heatsink. Yes, that's right, the CPU die was crushed due to too much pressure and not enough load balance to take the weight off the die itself. Heatspreaders are the way to go, good on ya Intel.
Intel vs AMD, P4 Protected, AMD isn't
Here we see the Pentium 4 next to its main competitor, the AMD AthlonXP. We will give you a little about the good and the bad compared to each other. AMD's strength lies in it's enhanced FPU and ALU engines, allowing the Athlon XP to execute more raw instructions per clock. This is why we saw in DX7 applications, the AMD Athlon taking apart the P4. With DX8 and SSE2 being used, the P4 gains the advantage, so if you are looking for a CPU for DX8 and above for mutlimedia, it's the Pentium4. For older games and DX7 content, the Athlon wins.
The Pentium 4 comes with its own thermal management solution built in. First we have the heatspreader to protect the CPU against heatsink install damage, and secondly Intel has the usual on-die CPU thermal probe to get an accurate reading of the die temperature and real-temp readings. If the Pentium 4's internal heat count goes 10% above thermal operating max (65C), the CPU begins to throttle back to around the 300MHz mark when temperatures continue to rise. This feature allows the P4 to reduce the heat without crashing the system, allowing the user to save any important data then shut down the system, and then have the heatsink and fan checked and replaced if necessary without killing the CPU. While AMD has incorporated the thermal probe into their AMD AthlonXP and MP CPU's, the CPU itself has no logic and therefore has no direct thermal protection. In order for an AMD CPU to be protected, it needs a board like the ASUS A7V333 with a logic circuit to shut down the CPU if the temperatures hit critical. If your board doesn't have this and the CPU fan fails or the heatsink is not installed properly, your AMD CPU will eventually cook itself as we have seen many times.
New Bus Speed, New Chipset, New Board
With the Pentium 4 running a higher bus speed, a new chipset with dividers to run the AGP, PCI and all other onboard peripherals at default specs is needed. Since very few motherboards out there officially support 533FSB at the moment (with the exception of SiS 645DX), Intel has updated its motherboard list with the new desktop board based on the i850E chipset. This is the same chipset as the i850 only with 533FSB support and PC1066 RDRAM support.
As stated above, the reference board uses the i850E chipset. It looks the same as the i850, but on the second line at the top of the chipset markings you will see KC82850E written on it (barely).
Since Intel moved over to 533MHz FSB and their first official 533FSB supporting chipset is the i850E, you are either going to have to run RDRAM at 800MHz (3.2GB/s) or 1066MHz (4.2GB/s). If you use RDRAM @ 800MHz, you are going to find that the P4 2.4GHz running 533FSB will give you little to no rewards as the memory bus can't supply the CPU with the required 4.2GB/s. PC1066 memory (RDRAM @1066MHz) is the only way to take advantage of this new bus and this new RDRAM is more expensive than ever. Intel supplied us with 4x 128MB RDRAM PC800 modules which we soon learned runs PC1066 without any problems, providing your board has the new RDRAM clock generators for 1066MHz operations (i850E is the only boards that have them). On the DDR side of things, SiS 645DX is your best bet for a reliable and cheap DDR P4 solution with DDR-333 support, 533FSB support and all costing less than 4 sticks of RDRAM. As for other boards, some i845D boards on the market will run the CPU quite happily. Seems Intel has the dividers in the i845D chips. For our test system, we used the Intel reference board for RDRAM speed purposes. For overclocking tests we used the EPoX 4BDA2+ board since it allows FSB, Vcore, Vdimm and Vagp adjustments to allow us to get the most of the processor.
USB 2.0, Intel looks to be getting ready for support
On the reference motherboard, Intel has added the new NEC USB2.0 controller chip, and this baby is the biggest USB 2.0 chip I have ever seen. Also, Intel's ICH2's USB has been disabled and the backplane USB ports belong to the USB 2.0 Controller. A 9-pin Intel 1.1 header has been placed for adding two extra ports, and these also are tied into the USB2.0 controller. ICH4 looks like it might be USB 2.0 by the sounds of things.