So, the Athlon 64 is finally here and Intel is far from releasing a consumer 64bit processor. But Intel is keen to show that it can still pull something out of the bag when it comes to high-performance processors. The Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition with Hyper Threading is Intel’s latest weapon in the war of the performance crown.
What is so special about this new flavour of P4 is that it features 2MB of Level 3 cache. This is something almost unheard of the world of personal computers. The only time Level 3 cache was ever considered on a standard PC was back in the days of AMD’s K6-3 but this was using Level 3 cache on the motherboard that was very slow and didn’t add a great deal to the overall system performance.
What Intel has done is completely different as the level 3 cache has been added to the already complex core of the Pentium 4 processor which means that it runs at full processor speed. This gives the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition a total of 2.5MB of cache which was previously reserved as workstation and server territory.
It is worth noting that the Athlon 64 comes with 1MB of cache, but this is still less than half of that of the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition. Intel’s target market for this new chip is the high-end gamers and computing power users. So if you’re someone who has seriously considered getting a Xeon system to try and get a little extra performance but found the supporting platform too slow or the price too high, this may be for you.
If you have a look around the web, there are a few benchmarks popping up here and there and the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition does seem to give the Athlon 64 a run for its money.
That said, the cynical side of us can’t help but think that the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition is a desperate bid by Intel to try and deflect some attention from AMD’s Athlon 64. Although our instinct tells us that dumping a chunk of extra cache on a current generation CPU is not really a match for a completely new generation of x86 technology.
That said, it’s all speculation until we get our hands on a Pentium 4 Extreme Edition CPU for testing. Once we do, we’ll see if it can stand up to the aggressive onslaught of AMD’s new power chip