Intel 3.40E & 3.40C Pentium 4 - Page 7

..:: Conclusion ::..

Before I make a note or two of my own about the latest 3.40GHz incarnation of the “Prescott” core Pentium 4 processor, let’s first take a look into the past at a few of our initial conclusions on this “Prescott” processor core and see if anything has changed in our views on “Prescott” or if we’re still heading in the same general direction with our opinions and predictions.

“When it came to several of the synthetic benchmarks, “Prescott” shined above “Northwood”. The same can be said for the video encoding and CAD performance results. However, when it came to real world gaming performance, “Prescott” dropped down to either holding a performance gain of virtually null, or it would indeed fall behind the “Northwood” processor at an equal core clock.”

“The real performance benefits that will come from the “Prescott” processor will not be seen right away, but farther on down the road, strikingly similar to the original debut of the Pentium 4. The “Prescott” processor has been geared for increased core clock speeds, and with the new instruction set, performance enhancements will slowly begin to trickle in once SSE3 coding schemes have been implemented into software. The problem is that it can, in many cases, take quite some time for software to be modified to utilize these new instructions, and for new software to become available that takes hold of all that the “Prescott” processor is able to do.”

These comments still holds true with the current revision 3.40E. Although the 3.40E does make up some ground on the 3.40C, it still has not been able to surpass “Northwood” in the majority of benchmarks, and we don’t foresee this happening until around the 4.00GHz mark, a mark that likely won’t be met until late this year, or early 2005. The 3.40E does indeed boost performance from the 3.20E, and one would expect. The 3.40E has made up ground in UT2003, and some other benchmarks along the same lines, but right now, “Northwood” is better for gaming on a clock for clock basis. As far as CAD and video encoding related applications go, it is a mixed bag. “Prescott” has shown that it accels over “Northwood” in CAD related applications, and some video encoding apps, but when it comes to other forms of media such as MP3 conversion for example, it still lags behind “Northwood”.

"Other issues to deal with are that for one, “Prescott” will only be offered up to 3.40GHz in a Socket 478 package, and two, this chip runs quite a bit warmer in comparison to a “Northwood” processor. Although cooling solutions that are available now will work, if you’re planning on doing any overclocking with a “Prescott” chip, you’re going to want to make sure you have some high-quality cooling implemented into your system.”

We addresses these cooling issues in a more enhanced way earlier on in this review comparing the 3.40GHz Pentium 4 incarnations, so we have hardened our stance on the heat problems brought about by the ever increasing frequencies. By the time “Prescott” is a viable option over “Northwood” for all users, it will be running around 4.00GHz, as we see it right now, which means that the chips we’re seeing now will run “cool” in comparison. Intel has no quick fix for this problem, and from the size and weight of the LGA coolers we have seen, something tells me it isn’t going to go away merely from a new package either. The new packaging should help to alleviate some of the strain that is placed on the current Socket 478 chips due to the high level of current running through the power pins. This alone will help address some of the heating issues, but all of the others require improved manufacturing techniques, and far more than could ever be done in the snap of a finger as many seem to hope. We still believe that down the road “Prescott” will really shine come SSE3 capable applications, and higher core frequencies, but right now we’d still suggest heading down the “Northwood” route unless you’re a fanatic for having the absolute latest hardware. Only time will tell if our predictions hold true, or are proven false.