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Intel Pentium 4 2.4GHz Processor Review

Intel's most recent addition to the Pentium 4 line is the now famous Northwood core. This new core added more cache and reduced the size of the P4 die to allow for greater clock speeds, less heat emissions and reduction in the power needed to run the CPU. Northwood debut at 2.0A GHz, replacing the Willamette core 2.0GHz, so far Intel have remained steady in its speed production with the 2.2GHz and now our latest sample from Intel, the 2.4GHz Northwood. The NDA for this processor has just expired, follow Cameron "Sov" Johnson as he tells us all about it!
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Published Mon, Apr 1 2002 11:00 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:25 PM CDT
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: Intel

Intel Pentium 4 2.4GHz -

IntroductionThe Intel Corporation has been making processors and peripherals for computers for the better part of thirty years, and for most of those thirty years, Intel has led the industry with the fastest processors for desktops, servers and workstations. Before the 386 microprocessor age, 99% of CPUs in PC's were Intel 80286, and even then other companies 286 CPUs were somewhat unreliable.Intel's first 32-bit CPU was the Intel i386DX processor line. Code-named "P9", it supported frequencies of 16MHz up to 33MHz (using 16-33MHz FSB). Then in June of 1988, Intel released its cut-down version of the i386DX and named it the i386SX. The primary difference between the DX and SX was cache. While the DX line supported no L1 cache and up to 128KB of L2 cache on the motherboard, the SX supported NO L1 or L2 cache at all, making it somewhat slower than its DX counterpart.In response to the AMD 386 and IBM 386 line of CPU, Intel decided that increasing the speeds of its 386 line wasn't enough to keep Intel on top. In April or 1989, Intel released to the public the first CPU with a Math Co-processor, or better known as an FPU. This alone gave Intel the crown for fastest CPU, but Intel didn't stop there. Keeping with their style for new innovative designs, the CPU was given a L1 cache size of 8KB and a L2 cache access size of up to 512KB or cache on the supported motherboard. This new creation was dubbed the i486DX.AMD responded to this by releasing their 486 line of CPU, and this proved to be a hit in the low cost market. Intel, not happy losing out to AMD in sales took the i486DX, removed the FPU and sold the chip as the i486SX CPU, taking back what Intel had earned.With bus speeds approaching their limit, Intel, AMD and Cyrix tried to get their CPU's to run faster, but expansion devices like hard disks and video cards became unstable as the faster CPU's pushed the limit of the bus speeds. Intel answered this challenge by introducing what we now know as the clock multiplier into the CPU. This clock multiplier was set to 2x, and Intel named this CPU the i486DX2. This processor used the bus speed x2 to increase the CPU speed. This step is still implemented today in our latest processors.Continuing with the trend, Intel incorporated a 4x multiplier into its next line of 486 class CPU. This CPU was named the i486DX4, and ranged in speeds from 75MHz to 133MHz. This was the last 486 CPU to be made by Intel.In 1993, Intel released a new bus standard. Known to the world as the P5 bus, this new architecture led to a lot of new processors from Intel and its competitors as we will soon see. The first of Intel's P5 CPU's was the Intel Pentium. The Intel Pentium came in speeds of 60MHz up to 200MHz using 50MHz to 66MHz bus speeds. This new CPU introduced another of the new CPU standards which are still used to this day; divided cache. Divided cache technology incorporated two separate cache chips on the L1 platform; one set for data, one set for instruction. This helped boost the power of the FPU system.With the computer market swinging to the home user rather than just the business user, Intel needed to boost its P5 CPU line to support better gaming. Intel took the existing Pentium CPU and added a new Multimedia Xceleration (MMX) technology. The MMX system was a new set of 50 instructions added to the CPU for handling number crunching. This new CPU was available in speeds of 166MHz up to 233MHz. The MMX Pentium was the last P5 CPU made by Intel.Intel's most recent line of CPU's was based on the P6 bus introduced by Intel back in 1995 with the Intel Pentium Pro CPU. The Intel Pentium Pro was released in November 1995. This processor was the first of Intel's line of CPU's to introduce on-die L2 cache. This new cache technology allowed for faster L2 cache access speeds since the L2 cache of the Pentium Pro ran at the same speed as the CPU's core. The Pentium Pro was built mostly for servers and workstations, but around the time that the Intel Pentium MMX arrived, the Pentium Pro found its way into a few of the home users systems. While this CPU was a good performer with the L2 cache on the CPU, it still lacked the support for MMX applications.With the need for the Pentium Pro to support MMX instructions, Intel took the Pentium Pro CPU, moved the L2 cache off the die and added the MMX instruction set, and in May 1997 Intel gave birth to one of the best CPU's Intel had ever created; the Intel Pentium II. The Pentium II was a Slot 1 based CPU since the cache had to be moved off the die to save on costs. But to increase the speed of the cache by having direct access to the CPU, Intel created a slot connector for the Pentium II.With AMD and its K6-2 and K6-3 taking the value market away, Intel needed a new value market CPU. Intel took the existing Pentium II core and totally removed the L2 cache, naming this new CPU the Intel Celeron. The first wave of Celeron CPU's were a disaster. With no L2 cache the CPU ran slower than the AMD K6-2 and cost more than a K6-3. This didn't go down well so Intel decided to take the Celeron core and add 128KB of on-die L2 cache running at the core clock of the CPU and named it the Celeron A series. The Celeron A series started out in Slot 1 format, however, with the L2 cache integrated into the CPU there was no need for the expensive slot configuration, so the Intel Celeron A moved over to the Socket 370 PPGA connector and has remained there. Intel's newest Celeron CPU, known to us as the Celeron II, is based on the Intel Pentium III FC-PGA package. This new CPU is the same old Celeron core and the same amount of memory. The only difference is the reduction in size of the die and the transfer from 64-bit cache to 256-bit Advanced Transfer Cache (ATC).Intel's fastest and mainstream P6 CPU was and is the Intel Pentium III CPU. The Pentium III started out as a Slot 1 CPU, but later moved to the Socket 370 FC-PGA packaging when the cache was moved from the Slot to the die of the CPU. The Pentium III's main feature over the Intel Pentium II was new multimedia instructions called SSE. These new instructions gave the Pentium III a slight boost in the benchmark department.With the AMD K7 line of processors taking the fame away from Intel during the i820/RDRAM/SDRAM disaster, Intel had to come up with a new CPU in order to take back the crown from AMD. Enter the Intel Pentium 4. The Pentium 4, upon its release, was not greeted with the market sales that Intel would have hoped for. This was due to the Intel Pentium 4 having a weaker FPU that the P3 at 1GHz. The P3 1GHz could outperform the Intel Pentium 4 in office applications, and this was not a laughing matter for Intel with the consumers staying away from Pentium 4 and its need for high priced, low performance RDRAM. Releases from VIA of the P4X266, SiS with the 645 and Intel with the i845 created cheaper options for the Pentium 4, and with DirectX 8 supporting Pentium 4 SSE2 optimized instructions, the Pentium 4 has gained some ground.Intel's most recent addition to the Pentium 4 line is the now famous Northwood core. This new core added more cache and reduced the size of the P4 die to allow for greater clock speeds, less heat emissions and reduction in the power needed to run the CPU. Northwood debut at 2.0A GHz, replacing the Willamette core 2.0GHz, so far Intel have remained steady in its speed production with the 2.2GHz and now our latest sample from Intel, the 2.4GHz Northwood.

Intel Pentium 4 2.4GHz -

FeaturesBelow is a table with a list of features that shows the subtle differences between the Northwood and Willamette core CPU's, also at the same time showing the differences between the Pentium 4 and its rival CPU, the AMD Athlon XP.
The major differences between the Northwood and Willamette are the cache sizes and the fabrication process; apart from this nothing has been taken from the Pentium 4.

Intel Pentium 4 2.4GHz -

Lets have a look at the Pentium 4's featuresWhile we have given you an explanation in our past Pentium 4 reviews on what the P4 has in the way of new features over its Willamette, Pentium 3 and Athlon XP processors, we feel that opening two reviews at once is a hassle. So here it is for you all again, and for those of you who haven't seen a Pentium 4 review before, here is your chance to brush up on what everyone is talking about.Cache Increase over WillametteThe Intel Pentium 4 Northwood CPU has stepped up the L2 cache from 256Kbyte of Advanced Transfer Cache, or ATC as it is known, to 512Kbytes, running at the same speed of the CPU core. This gives the Northwood a clear advantage for high memory usage, especially when using DDR SDRAM and SDRAM model boards. While the L2 cache has grown over the Pentium 4 Willamette processor, the L1 cache has remained the same size.A new bus for a new CPUFor most of the past three years, Intel has been relying on the P6 bus used by the current P3 and Celeron range. While this bus has been easy to overclock and very stable, it doesn't have the scalability that is required for future processors. Intel has finally decided to step away from the P6 architecture and introduce the new Pentium 4 400MHz QDR FSB. The well-known 'FSB' of Pentium 3 is clocked at 133 MHz and able to transfer 64-bits of data per clock, offering a data bandwidth of 8 bytes * 133 million/s = 1,066 MB/s. The Pentium 4's system bus is only clocked at 100 MHz and also 64-bit wide, but it is "Quad Data Rate", using the same principle as AGP 4x. The new bus can transfer 8 bytes x 100 million/s x 4 = 3,200 MB/s. This is obviously a tremendous improvement that even leaves AMD's EV6 bus far behind. The bus of the most recent Athlons is clocked at 133 MHz, 64-bit wide and "Double Data Rate", offering 8 bytes x 133 million/s x 2 = 2,133 MB/s.Intel's Pentium 4 CPU is paired with the i850 chipset, a Dual Channel RDRAM solution. The i850 has two independent RDRAM channels which can deliver up to 3.2GB/s max memory bandwidth when used with four RIMM modules. While RDRAM is able to produce such high bandwidth, its memory latency problems and high prices make it practically a dead issue for the home consumer. To this end, Intel and other third party vendors have started to produce SDRAM and DDR SDRAM solutions to provide the Pentium 4 with lots of memory bandwidth goodness.Rapid Execution EngineAnother feature of the Pentium 4 which is unique to Intel is the Rapid Execution Engine, or REE for short. The REE works on the principal of two double pumped ALU's and two double pumped AGU's. This allows for the engine to process 2x the amount of a P3 or Athlon CPU.The story looks a lot different for the instructions that cannot be processed by the rapid execution units. Those instructions, or µOPs, need to use the one and only slow ALU which is not double pumped. The majority of instructions need to use this path, which obviously sounds scary. However, the majority of code is in actual fact consisting of the most simple 'AND', 'OR', 'XOR', 'ADD' instructions making Intel's "Rapid Execution Engine" design sensible, though not particularly amazing. This feature has remained unchanged from the Willamette to the Northwood.SSE2 or Netburst, Two name, one massive performance boostIntel's name for the Pentium 4's new design is "NetBurst". Like with the Intel Pentium III and its SSE instructions, Intel is trying its hardest to push the idea that Intel's 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 Intel is 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. At the time of this article, Netburst has allowed Intel to grab 2.2GHz well before AMD.128-bit SMDI Integer EnhancementWhile 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 countsIntel'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.

Intel Pentium 4 2.4GHz -

Those Pretty PicturesHere we will give you a look at the different pictures of the Pentium 4 CPU and show our test platform for the review.Willamette and Northwood, similar in looks but can you spot the differenceBelow is a picture of the Northwood and Willamette core CPU's. They are labeled for you to know which is which, but can you spot the difference?
Look closely at the bottom right corner of the Northwood core picture. You will see a white dotty square image. Notice on the Willamette core it is on the other side; this is how you identify Willamette and Northwood. The Northwood core CPU at 2.0Ghz is also called the 2.0A GHz CPU, the A being the Northwood class. This is another way to tell if you have Northwood.The Test Board
While we have a plethora of motherboards to choose from, including SiS, VIA and ALi, we choose Intel's i850 motherboard produced by EPoX; the 4T2A3. We reviewed this motherboard earlier and decided to use it for one reason alone. While DDR-266 and even DDR-333 provide scores that equal the i850 in most benchmarks, there are still some it can't outperform the RDRAM in due to its 3.2GB/s bandwidth. This bandwidth is the optimal memory config for the P4's 3.2GB/s bus.Heatsink still the same
Using the Northwood core allows Intel to use the same heatsinks on the P4 2.4GHz that were used to effectively cool 1.6GHz CPU's. The heatsink area itself if massive and even at this size the cooler gets quite warm, this is due to the Intel Stock fan that revs around 2200-RPM and produces very little noise and very little air flow, but more than enough to cool the P4 beast. If you want overclocking, try something else though.OverclockingThe Pentium 4 2.4GHz based on the Northwood core is one of the best overclocking CPU's that Intel has ever produced. Displayed below are pictures taken from our 2.4GHz Northwood running 3.0GHz using a 125MHz FSB. Due to a limited chipset overhead (i850 and RDRAM are the worst overclocking combo ever), we were unable to push past 125MHz, and even this required the RDRAM to be pushed well out of specs and needing active cooling on the modules.First, Windows XP and its Info display with WCPUID
Next SiSoft Sandra 2002 CPU Benchmark
Lastly, SiSoft Sandra 2002 Multimedia Benchmark

Intel Pentium 4 2.4GHz -

BenchmarksProcessor 1: Intel Pentium 4 2.0A GHzProcessor 2: Intel Pentium 4 2.2 GHzProcessor 3: Intel Pentium 4 2.4 GHzMotherboard: EPoX 4T2A3Memory: 4x 64MB PC-800 Kingston RDRAM (256MB)Video Card: Leadtek GeForce3 Ti500Hard Disk: Seagate Barracuda ATA-3 UDMA-100 7200RPM Drivers: Intel IAA 2.0, nVidia Detonator v23.11Software Used: Sisoft Sandra 2002, 3DMark2000, 3DMark2001, PCMark 2002 Pro, Quake III Arena, Star Trek Armada, Star Trek Voyager Elite Force, Star Trek Armada 2.Synthetic Benchmarks - SiSoft Sandra 2002SiSoft Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) 2002 is a synthetic windows benchmark that features different tests used to evaluate different PC subsystems.

Intel Pentium 4 2.4GHz -

Primary System Benchmarks - MadOnion3DMark20003DMark2000 is a synthetic Direct3D benchmark that is compatible with DirectX 7. It takes full advantage of the Geforce2 and DirectX 7 enhancements. 3DMark2000 has become the world's most used benchmark and is by far the most popular gamer's benchmark.
3DMark2001SE3DMark2001 SE is the latest installment in the popular 3DMark series. By combining DirectX 8.1 support with completely new graphics (including the GeForce4), it continues to provide benchmark results that empower you to make informed hardware assessments.
PCMark2002PCMark2002 is a completely new multipurpose benchmark suited for benchmarking all kinds of PCs, from laptops to workstations, as well as across multiple Windows operating systems. This easy-to-use benchmark makes professional strength benchmarking software available even to novice users. PCMark2002 consists of a series of tests that represent common tasks in home and office programs. PCMark2002 also covers many additional areas outside the scope of other MadOnion benchmarks.

Intel Pentium 4 2.4GHz -

Real World Benchmarks - OpenGL and D3D GamesQuake III ArenaQuake III Arena is a real-world OpenGL benchmark that we have been using here at TweakTown for quite a while now because it has proven itself to be one of the best gaming benchmarks around to compare a range of different products.
Star Trek VoyagerStar Trek Voyager is used as its engine and graphics are the same as Quake III Arena's, only more dedicated towards DirectX 8 optimizations. We also applied the new DirectX 8.1 patch to allow for the use of Hardware T&L's use as well as new optimizations for AMD Athlon XP and Pentium 4 SSE2.
Star Trek ArmadaWe use Star Trek Armada due to its heavy reliance on memory and hard disks. If motherboards tend to have poorly optimized memory, we see the results of the benchmark drop as well as with poor IDE optimization. Star Trek Armada uses swap files for storage of large graphics and maps during its benchmarking and makes it a great IDE test tool rather than memory. We use command tl_set_memuse=10 to allow the system 10% memory and 90% IDE
Star Trek Armada IIStar Trek Armada II is designed on the original Armada engine but with DirectX 8.1 display support, reducing the bottleneck by using fully accelerated 3D Graphics. Like Armada I, Armada II is a more hard disk intensive benchmark rather than anything else, and is a good indicator if the IDE system has any weaknesses.

Intel Pentium 4 2.4GHz -

ConclusionWhile in the past we have given the Pentium 4 some harsh criticism for its lackluster performance compared to the AMD Athlon XP using slower clocks speeds, there is no doubt that Intel has proven to itself that MHz can count for quite a bit. When the Intel P4 uses SSE2 to augment its slower ALU units, the AMD Athlon XP is out-classed. While the overclockers and hardcore users know about AMD and its Performance Rating system, OEM's and end users do not and prefer to have a name rather than a PR system. This is what has kept Intel on top of the CPU market and shows with a 2.4GHz CPU well before AMD has even a 2GHz processor out.On its overclocking skills, the Pentium 4 Northwood core is unmatched. 0.13 micron process allows for lower voltages and greater speeds as we have seen earlier on, and with this being just the beginning of the P4 Northwood, we are guaranteed some remarkable CPU's from Intel very shortly.- ProsFastStableBuilt-in thermal diodeNo extra logic circuits needed for CPU thermal protectionVery overclockable- ConsRather priceyRating - 9/10 and TweakTown's Editors Choice Award

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