Intel 2.8Ghz Pentium 4 processor

Monday, August 26, 2002


Unfortunately for AMD, the reign of the Athlon XP 2600+ seems to have come to a swift, and abrupt end.

Less than one week after the release of the XP 2600+, and its performance victories over the 533MHz FSB 2.53GHz Intel Pentium 4, Intel has released a new chip: the 533MHz FSB 2.8GHz Pentium 4.

The upside of the new release is that Intel's new speed daemon places them a whole lot closer to breaking 3GHz while AMD has only just cleared the 2GHz threshold .

On the downside, though, there is not a whole lot of new technology to be found in the new chip -- for that, users will have to wait for the next generation of Intel chips.

It is worth recalling that we have seen quite a few developments in the P4 family thus far. The biggest change was to the Pentium 4's pin layout, which ushered in the change from the Socket 423 interface to the current standard, Socket 478.

Next, we saw the front-side bus and memory interfaces change from 400MHz and PC800 RDRAM to 533MHz and PC1066 RDRAM. That upgrade resulted in a memory bandwidth boost to 4.2GB/sec, from the previous 3.1GB/sec, while the Athlon XP's memory-to-CPU pathway has loitered at a relatively stagnant 2.1GB/sec.

In truth, though, the Pentium 4 owes much of its success to its architecture, and to its 20-stage pipeline in particular. Because of it, Intel's engineers have been able to steadily increase the P4's maximum operating frequency, and breath ever-newer life into the platform.

While the initial renditions of the P4 offered only timid performance for their price -- if you remember, a 1.7GHz Pentium 4 was easily defeated by a 1.2GHz Athlon of 1GHz Pentium 3 -- newer versions have come to quickly surpass AMD's Athlon family.

That said, the improvements haven't all been about operating frequency; some of the biggest changes in the P4 have occurred in its FSB and L2 cache. While the former was recently boosted from 400MHz to 533MHz, the latter underwent a similarly significant change with the release of "Northwood", which saw the L2 cache grow from 256KB to 512KB.

The result has been obvious: the Athlon XP has spent more time eating dust than dishing it out.

To see if that's will prove the case again today, we'll be testing our sample of the 533MHz FSB 2.8GHz Pentium 4 -- the top-of-the-line desktop CPU from Intel.


Next: The test setup.

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