- SSE2, one massive performance boost
Intel's name for the Pentium 4's new design is "NetBurst". Like with the Pentium III and its SSE instructions, Intel is trying its hardest to push the idea that their new processor will make your web pages load quicker. Unfortunately, the Internet is mostly limited to your modem's maximum speed and the speed of your ISP. The average consumer, however, is not going to know this straight off and it is a perfect way to market the Pentium 4.
Another big issue with the Pentium 4's "NetBurst Micro Architecture" is its obvious focus to deliver the highest clock rates. Again, 'NetBurst' shows its roots in Intel's marketing department. While Intel in the past has said "MHz isn't everything", it seems that they are trying to ring that bell that they tried to cut down in the days of the Cyrix 6x86 CPU's. As many of you may know by now, the Intel Pentium 4 at the same clock speed can't beat an AMD Athlon in just about every benchmark today. While these benchmark programs aren't SSE2 optimized (yet), it does show that Intel is trying to focus more on the future and not on the present. This could be a very big marketing mistake with most of the hardware community staying away from expensive Pentium 4/RDRAM solutions at the moment. However, if you are one of the hardware junkies like me who have to have the fastest thing with the highest numbers on it, Intel has taken this crown and continues to do so.
- 128-bit SMDI Integer Enhancement
While the MMX and SSE technologies provided for a total of 68 64-bit Integer Instructions, Intel's SSE2 allows for 128-bit Integer instructions. This allows for 2x 64-bit instructions from SSE or MMX optimized software to be executed, or 1x 128-bit SSE2 instruction to be executed.
- The Die; it may be small but its big where it counts
Intel's Pentium 4 Willamette is available in two packages; Socket 423 and Socket 478, while the Northwood is 478 only. While the 478-pin Pentium 4 may sound like it would be a larger CPU, it is actually smaller; about 1/3 the size of a 423 Pentium 4. mPGA pins are about the size of a pin head and spaced less than 1mm apart. Willamette was built on the same core process as the Coppermine P3 and Celeron CPUs; a 0.18 micron die. Intel has dropped the core size to that of the new Celeron Tualatin core; 0.13 micron. While the physical features of the Northwood are identical to the Willamette, under the heat spreader lies a tiny die consuming only 1.4 to 1.5v rather than the 1.7v that the Willamette core used. This has allowed greater clock speeds for current and future processors.