Intel Pentium 4 2.8Ghz - Bridging the 3GHz Gap

The latest processor from Intel has been released today which means our NDA has lifted and reviews of the new 2.8GHz monster is making appearances all over the Internet on various hardware sites, including ours. Cameron "Sov" Johnson gives us a look at the fastest Pentium 4 processor to date which is bridging the gap to 3GHz.
| Aug 25, 2002 at 11:00 pm CDT
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: Intel

Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz - Introduction

IntroductionWhen Intel first announced the Pentium 4 CPU and its changes, we all believed that Intel would once again take its place as head of the super-fast processors. On release date we found ourselves questioning this. When tested against benchmarks of the time, Intel's Pentium 4 processor at the same clock speeds as the AMD Athlon (EG P4 1.4GHz against Athlon 1.4GHz), the Pentium 4 showed to be lagging well behind its AMD competitors, and even in Office applications behind the old Pentium 3 processor. This turned out to be one of the biggest jokes in the PC industry.Since this time, Intel has learned that the market won't follow what the Corporation wants, but rather what is faster and cheaper. Intel lost quite a bit of the market share when the Pentium 4 was released, and it wasn't until the P4 hit 1.8GHz and beyond that it started to prove itself as a fast all-round CPU. Introduction of the Northwood core and the i845D chipsets helped Intel reduce the costs of P4 systems, and improving speeds, performance and that dreaded word all CPU makers don't want to know about, "Overclocking".Recently, Intel released its new 2.4GHz P4 CPU and it was the fastest P4 to hit the retail market. Now with rumors of Celeron CPU's being made on the P4 core with 400MHz FSB, Intel needs something to push its flagship P4 to the top. Intel's answer was moving to 533MHz FSB with its 2.26, 2.4, 2.53 and 2.66GHz CPU's. The gap between Intel and AMD is growing even bigger.Today we have been fortunate enough to receive Intel's most recent addition to the Intel Mega-GHz race, the Pentium 4 2.8GHz.

Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz - Specifications

SpecificationsSo you can see for yourself, we have put together a simple little table for you to get an idea of the differences between the four different Pentium 4 cores.
As you can see, there is very little difference between each generation of Pentium 4 but has led to the Pentium 4 taking its position it has today. Now that we have gotten the Pentium 4 part out of the way we will have a look at the major Pentium 4 Chipsets being used today in modern motherboards.

Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz - Features

Lets have a look at the Pentium 4's featuresWhile we have given you an explanation in our past Pentium 4 reviews on what this processor has in the way of new features over the Willamette, Pentium 3 and Athlon XP processors, we feel that opening two reviews at once is a hassle. So here it is for you 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 256KB of Advanced Transfer Cache, or ATC as it is known, to 512KB, running at the same speed as the CPU core. This gives the Northwood a clear advantage for high memory usage, especially when using DDR SDRAM and SDRAM model mainboards. 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 finally decided to step away from the P6 architecture and introduced 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 Athlon 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. But 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 names, one massive performance boostIntel'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 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.
Pentium 4 and AMD Athlon XP, Side by Side
First off we see the Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz CPU back and front compared to the AMD Athlon XP CPU's that are currently in circulation. The Intel Pentium 4 is considerably smaller than the Athlon XP. Intel's Heatspreader on the die of the CPU is a very good addition, something that should be added to all new AMD processors as it does prevent chipping the die of the CPU and turning your shiny CPU into a very expensive key ring.Heatsink, Socket and Retention Mechanism
Well, the CPU's may be getting faster but its good to see some things stay the same. Intel has been in the past notorious for changing its chipsets and even its sockets to accommodated its new processors where there hasn't been any need (remember Socket 423, how long did that last?). The 2.8GHz uses the same Socket 478 mPGA connector, Heatsink unit and retention mechanism as all the previous 478 class CPU's.Intel, in order to achieve 2.8GHz, have raised the CPU core voltage from 1.50v up to 1.525v. Very small change but its still starting to show the 0.13um process is needing more power to push more speed.The Test System
Our test motherboard for this review is the Soyo P4S645DX Dragon Ultra board. We chose this board for two reasons. First, it looks great and second, it supports DDR-333 memory officially.
As mentioned above, the Soyo P4S645DX Dragon board uses the SiS 645DX chipset. Currently, the best DDR-333 platform for Intel Pentium 4 (actually the only DDR-333 platform for Intel). While the Intel i845G chipset does have DDR-333 ratio dividers, only a few motherboard manufacturers have decided to implement them so we decided to show Intel Pentium 4 in an official rig. While VIA does have the P4X400 motherboard, there is still a huge debate going on between Intel and VIA, so once again, for sake of being official we are choosing SiS to power our rig.

Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz - Test Setup and Sandra

BenchmarksTest SystemProcessor: Intel Pentium 4 2.8B GHz Northwood (Supplied by Spectrum Communications)Memory: 2x 256MB DDR-333 Kingmax (512MB Supplied by Kingmax)Video Card: nVidia Reference GF4 Ti4200 128MB (Supplied by nVidia)Hard Disk: Western Digital WD1200 (Supplied by Achieva)Drivers: nVidia Detonator v30.30Software Used: SiSoft Sandra 2002, 3DMark2001, PCMark 2002 Pro, SysMark 2002, Winstone 2001, Vulpine GLmark, Flask MPEG4 Encoding, WinAce, Quake III Arena, Aquanox, DroneZmark, Max Payne, Comanche 4, Star Trek Voyager Elite Force, Jedi Knight II.SiSoft Sandra 2002 SP1SiSoft Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) 2002 is a synthetic Windows benchmark that features different tests used to evaluate different PC subsystems. We used this to test CPU Raw Performance, Multimedia Instruction Set and Memory Bandwidth Performance. While they are all synthetic results, they do give us a general idea of what is happening and where a component's strengths and weaknesses are.
Sandra shows the gap between 2.53GHz and the new 2.8GHz CPU being quite a large jump for Intel, especially on the 533FSB. DDR memory results have also improved. Definitely DDR-333 and Pentium 4 makes a great combination.

Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz - Benchmarks - System Productivity

Real-World System ProductivitySysMark 2002SysMark2002 incorporates the following Internet Content Creation and Office Productivity applications:Office Productivity: Microsoft Word 2002, Microsoft Excel 2002, Microsoft PowerPoint 2002, Microsoft Outlook 2002, Microsoft Access 2002, Netscape Communicator 6.0, Dragon Naturally Speaking Preferred v.5, WinZip 8.0, and McAfee Virus Scan 5.13.Internet Content Creation: Adobe Photoshop 6.01, Adobe Premiere 6.0, Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 7.1, Macromedia Dreamweaver 4, and Macromedia Flash 5.
Higher core speed gives the 2.8GHz a clear win in the business section of SysMark. Intel has definitely gotten the edge here.Winstone 2001Business Winstone tests your computer's word processing, spreadsheet and presentation application ability using Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Both Content Creation and Business Winstone 2001 give you great examples of real-world performance.Content Creation tests your computer's ability to create and manipulate images, webpages etc using real world programs such as Photoshop and Dreamweaver, then gives you an overall score.
Winstone 2001 shows the same trend with the Pentium 4 2.8GHz increasing its gap over its predecessors and making a good name for itself already.

Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz - Benchmarks - Multimedia Productivity

MPEG-4 Video Encoding: Xmpeg 4.5 and DivX 5.01 ProRAM performance is an important factor in MPEG-4 encoding. We used Xmpeg 4.5 encoder with the DivX 5.02 Pro Codec in order to gauge the performance of the Intel Pentium 4 2.8 against its older brothers to see how much further a 2.8GHz can take you.
The Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz with 533FSB and 333MHz memory is able to give us a very impressive frame rate for converting movie files to DivX and MPEG-4 formats. We used a 60 minute home video transferred to the PC via Firewire for our tests. The results were very impressive indeed.WinAce 2.11One of the most important things that is used today for any kind of file transport is archiving and compression of files. With content getting larger and larger, higher compression formats are needed in order to transmit data at an acceptable level. WinAce is one of the most powerful archivers used in business grade applications.
The 2.8GHz is able to complete its archiving tasks in just over 150 seconds. The 2.53GHz requires 186 seconds. Not a super huge gap but enough for you to start compressing another load while a similarly powered PC using a 2.53GHz is still chewing away at the frist archive file.

Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz - Benchmarks - Synthetic PC and 3D

Synthetic 3D and PC Benchmarks3DMark2001 SE3DMark2001 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. Build 330 adds support for video cards that have Vertex Shaders but no Pixel Shaders, such as the SiS Xabre Video card.
Intel continues to increase its clock speeds and continues to give us impressive scores in 3DMark2001. While the gap isn't that far apart from the 2.5GHz, you will have to note the Ti4200 video card is limiting the scores somewhat.PCMark2002 ProPCMark2002 is a completely new, multipurpose benchmark, suited for testing 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.com benchmarks.
While the Ti4200 card might be the limiting factor in 3DMark2001, it has no affect on this benchmark. This is primarily CPU and Memory being tested here to give us our overall system performance within a simulated environment. The 2.8GHz takes an impressive lead over the 2.5GHz CPU.Vulpine GLmarkVulpine GLmark is a 3D OpenGL based Windows application designed to test the 3D subsystems on VGA and Motherboard chipsets. Incorporating high quality scenery graphic run throughs you get a good hard workout of the 3D system.
Vulpine also gets the Ti4200 bottleneck treatment from the video card but is still able to show its form against the lower clocked 2.5GHz.

Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz - Benchmarks - OpenGL

Real-World OpenGL BenchmarksQuake 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 wide range of different products. Quake III is getting very old, but is still the best way of testing video and PC systems for any instabilities and best performance.
Quake III Arena isn't as hampered by the Ti4200 and gives a fairly good indication of the power the 2.8GHz CPU can deliver.Star Trek VoyagerStar Trek Voyager is another real-world OpenGL benchmark. Based on the Quake III Arena engine, this game is an OpenGL master utilizing DirectX 8. We also apply the new Opt3D patch to allow for the use of Hardware T&L as well as new optimizations for AMD Athlon XP and Pentium 4 SSE2.
Star Trek Voyager gets hit harder by the bottleneck because of the higher quality graphics being rendered, however, the 2.8GHz is still able to impress.Jedi Knight IIJedi Knight II, Jedi Outcast is a newly released OpenGL game that many have been waiting for. It has greatly improved graphics over its predecessor and it fully supports advanced shaders, as well as very high texture resolutions and effects. There is one demo included in the multi-player section that is good for benchmarking use. In order to enable the benchmarking mode, you have to make a shortcut to the jk2mp.exe program located in the GameData folder of Jedi Knight II. You have to put the switch "+set sv_cheats1" (no quotes) at the end of the line in the Target Area so that it looks like this: C:\Star Wars JK II Jedi Outcast\GameData\jk2mp.exe" +set sv_cheats 1. The demo file used is jk2ffa.
Jedi Knight II is even more heavy on 3D than the previous two games put together and suffers most from the bottleneck.

Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz - Benchmarks - Direct3D

Real-World Direct3D BenchmarksMax PayneMax Payne is a new generation DirectX 7/8 game. This game is based on Hardware T&L advancements as well as many other features of the Intel Pentium 4 and Athlon XP.
Max Payne seems to drive more of the CPU in this test as the 2.8GHz gets off to a great start in the D3D portion of the testing.AquanoxAquanox is the latest installment of our benchmark software. This game is based heavily on DirectX 8 and 8.1 advancements and is designed to stress video cards to their ultimate limit, in all the best D3D benchmark to date.
Aquanox places a great strain on the P4 to chug through the number crunching but still gives a good score.DroneZmarkDroneZmark is based on the popular DroneZ game engine. DroneZmark incorporates a looping demo and execution engine to test your system performance.
Finally DroneZmark is still a great test of the CPU systems and the 2.8GHz wins on all accounts (as well it should).

Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz - Conclusion

ConclusionIntel's Pentium 4 processors of late have matured into a well rounded desktop and workstation processor. Intel's introduction of value chipsets based on DDR-SDRAM has made the Pentium 4 somewhat affordable for the average users.Northwood based Pentium 4's are naturally good overclockers. The 2.8GHz CPU is somewhat pushed to higher limits due to its rise of the V-core but is still worth overclocking. We managed 3.15GHz out of our CPU before it started to give us any problems and that was with just stock cooling. Adding water or other super cooling could lead to quite a bit more.Intel still has a way to go with prices as AMD is still able to beat Intel in this department. But Intel has started to answer the call to arms.- ProsFastest desktop processor available to dateVery stableOverclocking is not without its charmsHeatspreader saves CPU die from death- ConsVery Expensive @ 2.8GHzRating - 9.5/10 and TweakTown's Editors Choice Award

Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:25 pm CDT

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