The Intel Pentium 4 processor is the seventh generation x86 microprocessor architecture from the Intel Corporation. Many months ago at the Intel Developer Forum 2000, Intel released what was known as the Willamette core, this turned out to be the code name of the Intel Pentium 4 processor that was to be released months after IDF. Sit back as Cameron lets us know if all your dollars should be put into this new processor!
IntroductionThe Intel Pentium 4 processor is the seventh generation x86 microprocessor architecture from the Intel Corporation. Many months ago at the Intel Developer Forum 2000, Intel released what was known as the Willamette core, this turned out to be the code name of the Intel Pentium 4 processor that was to be released months after IDF.The new seventh generation micro architecture from the Intel Corporation was a much-needed one. The sixth generation architecture was used with the Intel Celeron, Pentium II and Pentium III in both socket and slot packaging. Because of the somewhat short 10-stage pipeline which the AMD Athlon and Duron processors also use, the quickly aging architecture was maxed out in terms of achieving stable clock speeds past 1.13GHz, at this speed the system (Intel Pentium 3 FC-PGA 0.18 micron process) would crash even when giving the processor a voltage boost. As much as Intel tried, they couldn't get much stability out of the sixth generation core when the clock speed was clocked past 1.1GHz, mainly because of the limited 10-stage pipeline which was being pushed right to it's limits. As time goes on, end-users require more power from their systems and Intel couldn't give them this with their sixth generation micro architecture. The same applies for programmers, they require more power and features to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of their work. Intel got a lot of value from their sixth generation micro architecture design, but it was time for a change, and a big one at that.In this review of the Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz processor (which was kindly supplied to us by Intel Australia), we will take you on a journey looking at the new features it possesses, overclocking, the monstrous heatsink and new retention style, the upgrade, benchmarking against an AMD Athlon processor and Intel Pentium 3 processor and much more in which we will try not to make just another review of the Intel Pentium 4 processor.
Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz -
Features- Intel NetBurst MicroarchitectureThe Intel Pentium 4 processor is built around what Intel has named NetBurst Microarchitecture Technology. The most notably and also most important feature of NetBurst is it's hyper pipelined technology which uses a 20-stage pipeline compared to a 10-stage pipeline to that of the Intel Pentium III and AMD Athlon. As mentioned in the introduction, Intel couldn't get much stability out of their sixth generation past 1.13GHz even when boosting the voltage, as the core was being pushed to far and to it's limits. To get stable clock speeds past 1.13GHz Intel needed to use a core based on a 0.13-micron fabrication process, this is still months off and Intel can't just wait around and let AMD keep producing faster and faster chips, thus is why NetBurst was created and implemented into the Pentium 4, you may even say Intel was forced to use NetBurst technology to keep up with AMD.Basically, per clock Intel have reduced the number of operations that allows higher clock speeds. The less operations per clock can be made up with the high clock speeds the chip can produce, this is why Intel released the Pentium 4 at 1.3GHz and it will soon be available at 1.7GHz to keep it performing at reasonable speeds. This is also why we have the 20-stage pipeline of NetBurst, to allow the Pentium 4 to perform fewer operations per clock. The deeper the pipeline is, the more stages an instruction must go through before reaching the end of the pipeline, this is how fewer operations per clock is achieved by Intel.One of the main reasons we see an Intel Pentium 3 beating an Intel Pentium 4 clocked at the same speeds is because of NetBurst. At "slower" clock speeds (eg 1.3GHz) NetBurst technology cannot be fully utilized to it's full potential. Because the Intel Pentium 3, which uses a 10-stage pipeline, performs more operations per clock, this is simply why the Intel Pentium 3 would beat the Intel Pentium 4 at the same clock speed if benchmarked against each other in non-SSE2 tests. However, this comparison won't be made for much longer as Intel will be releasing an Intel Pentium 4 clocked 1.7GHz, because of the limited core of the Intel Pentium 3 you won't see one reaching those clock speeds thus not being able to compete with it any longer.There is however a down side to NetBurst technology, allow me to explain in the simplest way possible. Processors nowadays attempt to increase the efficiency of their pipelines by predicting the next operation. When a processor predicts the next operation correctly everything happens as normal. However, when an incorrect prediction is made when using NetBurst technology the processing cycle must start again at the start of the pipeline, which is of course much slower. With all this considered, a processor with a 10-stage pipeline has less performance loss for a mis-prediction compared to a processor with a 20-stage pipeline.
Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz -
More Features- The Die
Each year we normally see the die size of processors shrinking, not enlarging like in the case of the Intel Pentium 4's die (aka core). The new Intel Pentium 4 micro architecture uses an unbelievable 42 million transistors, 14 million more than the Intel Pentium 3 processor. The Intel Pentium 4's die is bigger than that of the Intel Pentium 3 simply because it uses 14 million more transistors, and they have to go somewhere. Intel (and other chip producers for that matter) are still working on a 0.13-micron fabrication process for dies of their up-and-coming processors, until then we probably won't see smaller die sizes either with this many transistors. In more ways than one, the Intel Pentium 4 core reminds me of the Intel Celeron PPGA core. The core is very strong and isn't going to break under heatsink pressure like the somewhat weak AMD Athlon cores that are known to break easy with certain heatsinks and or incorrect installation of heatsinks.- 400MHz FSBIntel have used a 100MHz FSB (Front Side Bus) and have quad-pumped it allowing for an amazingly high 400MHz FSB, making it the highest bandwidth desktop system bus available to date. The 400 MHz system bus provides 3.2 gigabyte per second transfer speeds between the Pentium 4 processor and the memory controller thanks to a 64-bit bus, which operates with dual channel RDRAM in expensive PC600 and PC800 modules. This fast memory bandwidth is one of the key reasons why you will see an Intel Pentium 4 beating both the Intel Pentium 3 (maximum of 1.06GB/s with PC133) and AMD Athlon (maximum of 2.1GB/s with 2100 DDR SDRAM) in memory bandwidth intense games such as Quake 3 Arena - How does 132 frames per second at 1024x768 in High Quality sound, better still 57.5 frames per second at 1600x1200 in High Quality. we'll discuss these benchmarks and others later in this review.- Rapid Execution EngineThe Intel Pentium 4 processor uses another amazing feature called Rapid Execution Engine. The dual ALU (Arithmetic Logic Units) operate at twice the speed of the processor. This means that an Intel Pentium 4 processor running at 1.5GHz would theoretically make the ALU operate at 3GHz, the fastest ALU speed ever. This is also another reason that helps the Intel Pentium 4 processor beat the Intel Pentium 3 processor in most benchmarking suites.
Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz -
And More Features- SSE2We first saw the first SSE instructions featured on the Intel Pentium 3 processor, a newer and faster set of SSE instructions have been included on the Intel Pentium 4 processor. SSE2 now features 144 new instructions over the older SSE instructions; these new instructions reduce the time it takes to execute a particular task. SSE2 also uses a 128-bit SIMD integer arithmetic and 128-bit SIMD double precision floating point instructions, because of this performance is again increased. Intel are praying to God that we will see SSE2 more widely supported in applications and games later this year, if this happens it will make the Intel Pentium 4 a more attractive processor because of the faster benchmarks with SSE2 supported software. If it doesn't happen, it could make the Intel Pentium 4 one of the biggest processor flops in computer history.- Dual Channel RDRAM
To date the only retail chipset available for the Intel Pentium 4 processor is the Intel 850 chipset and it uses expensive RDRAM which Intel legally need to sell a certain amount of due to a contract they signed with RAMBUS, makers of RDRAM. The Intel 850 requires you to use dual channel RDRAM, meaning two sticks of PC600 or PC800 RDRAM (aka RAMBUS). The Intel Pentium 4 processor package comes with two sticks of 64mb PC600 RDRAM modules, this is one of the reasons the Intel Pentium 4 processor is so expensive to buy, not to forget that it still isn't a mainstream product. Two Continuity Modules are also needed which aren't cheap either, they are blank sticks which plug into RIMM 3 and RIMM4 of the motherboard if they aren't being used, this is a requirement not a choice. If the Intel Pentium 4 processor were to be sold without RDRAM, we would see it retailing much cheaper indeed. But, Intel are not alone in the Pentium 4 chipset game, allow me to explain...
VIA are working on their own Intel Pentium 4 chipset called the VIA PX266 which will use 2100 DDR SDRAM, instead of more expensive RDRAM. But then one would ask why, one of the key features of the Intel Pentium 4 is it's memory bandwidth, taking the RDRAM away is going to only lower the memory bandwidth with current DDR SDRAM as it cannot currently compete with more expensive RDRAM. On the other hand, VIA could be the savior of the Intel Pentium 4 processor making it much cheaper platform using less expensive DDR SDRAM and more affordable making it more accessible for different types of markets.
Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz -
Monstrous Heatsink & New Retention MechanismIntel has chosen to use a rather large heatsink with a copper base that weights in at around 450 grams, the heaviest heatsink made by Intel yet. The base of the heatsink is made up of copper and the heat is dissipated through aluminum with a quiet fan. I would also personally have to say this is the most impressive heatsink I have seen produced from Intel. While all other previous heatsinks from Intel achieved their purpose, they were however nothing us overclockers would write home about. Here is a picture of the heatsink, which allowed us to take our Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz test system up to 1.6GHz with not much effort at all.
Intel has chosen to use a new a retention mechanism that is totally different to that of Socket-370 and Socket-A. I believe the new method of heatsink installation is easier and much quicker than conventional methods. I have used a Global Win Pentium 4 heatsink to show how the new retention mechanism and just how simple and easy it is to install a heatsink. Below we see the Socket-423 and part of the clipping mechanism screwed into the motherboard and case... Note: The heatsink featured below is a Global Win Pentium 4 heatsink, NOT the Intel stock cooler.
Here is a picture of the heatsink seated in the socket...
Here is a picture of one of the two clips that are used to clamp the heatsink to the socket...
Here is a picture of the heatsink successfully installed on the Socket-423...
As you can see the process of installing a Pentium 4 heatsink is much easier compared to that of a Pentium 3 or AMD Athlon heatsink. Hardly any pressure is needed to install the heatsink, to remove the heatsink all that you need to do is push the clips out with a screw driver and they become loose and then you can just remove the clips and remove the heatsink, very easy indeed and something for which Intel should be congratulated on.
Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz -
BenchmarkingTEST SYSTEM SETUPProcessor - Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz, AMD Athlon 1.2GHz, Intel Pentium III 800MHzRAM - 256mb RDRAM PC800, 256mb PC150 SDRAMMotherboard - Intel Desktop Board D850GB i850, ABIT KT7A KT133A, Epox 815EP i815EPVideo Card - nVidia GeForce2 Ultra 64mbOperating System - Microsoft Windows 2000 SP1Drivers - nVidia 10.80, DX8, VIA 4.29, VIA AGP GART 4.05Software - SiSoft Sandra 2001, 3DMark2000, 3DMark2001, Quake 3 ArenaResults - Sisoft Sandra 2001 CPU Benchmark
In our FPU first benchmark we see the Intel Pentium 4 beating both other processors. In ALU testing the Intel Pentium 4 is beaten by the AMD Athlon, then following the slower Intel Pentium 3.Results - Sisoft Sandra 2001 Multimedia Benchmark
The Intel Pentium 4 is beaten again in this benchmark by the AMD Athlon, Intel's SSE2 technology is beaten by AMD's older 3DNow! technology.Results - Sisoft Sandra 2001 Memory Benchmark
In this memory benchmark the Intel Pentium 4 increased memory bandwidth helps it take the lead from the AMD Athlon and Intel Pentium 3.
Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz -
More BenchmarkingResults - 3DMark2001 (1024x768x32)
In MadOnion's latest 3DMark2001 program the Intel Pentium 4 beats the AMD Athlon by only 140 3DMarks.Results - 3DMark2000 (1024x768x16)
In the previous benchmark the Intel Pentium 4 beat the AMD Athlon, but in the older version of 3DMark the AMD Athlon beats the Intel Pentium 4.Results - Quake 3 Arena (High Quality, 32bit color)
In Quake 3 Arena the Intel Pentium 4's increased memory bandwidth really shines over the AMD Athlon and Pentium 3. We didn't benchmark at 800x600 because we figure if you are going to spend all the money on a Intel Pentium 4 you won't be playing games at 800x600, but 1024x768 and higher.
Intel Pentium 4 1.5GHz -
ConclusionThe Intel Pentium 4 processor is a fast processor, built for the future, not today. Intel should have designed the processor for today so it's features can be fully utilized. Intel didn't though, they designed it hoping programmers would take advantage of the processors new features after it's release, not a very wise move I believe. I cannot justify spending AU$2000 on a processor and memory, not when it can be beaten in just about all benchmarks by a top end AMD Athlon processor (especially AMD's new AXIA stepping which can hit 1.5GHz) which is a quarter of the price of an Intel Pentium 4, at least at the moment. You not only have to buy the processor and memory, you have to buy a new motherboard, new case and new power supply, and that is the bear minimum. Upgrading to a new Intel Pentium 4 system is a costly exercise, but if you have the dollars spare and are looking for a new system and don't particularly want an AMD system the Intel Pentium 4 platform in the answer, maybe the answer for the future depending upon if it's features are fully taken advantage of, which we still don't really know. Rumours are floating around that Intel are soon going to release a 1.7GHz version of the Pentium 4, if these rumours are true I'd recommend waiting till it is released which will bring the price down of the lower end of the Intel Pentium 4 processors, making the thought of upgrading to an Intel Pentium 4 system not so daunting and saving your wallet some grief.Rating - 7 / 10
Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:25 pm CDT
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Cameron founded TweakTown in 1999 after it originally started off as his personal homepage. Cameron was once, many years ago, the only person at TweakTown producing content, but nowadays, he spends his time ensuring TweakTown operates at its best in his senior management role.
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