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Intel Extreme Edition 955 and i975x Chipset

The other feature that’s different about Presler is that while the Smithfield EE 840 was two Prescott’s manufactured together, each core on the Presler is a separate die, so that if one fails during production, the other good one doesn’t have to be thrown away too. This means that this Extreme Edition is much cheaper for Intel to manufacture. However, with double the cache over the previous version, this just means that you can expect to pay around the same for Presler as with the last Extreme Edition i.e. – a lot. Single core versions of the Presler, known as ‘Cedar Mill’ will be released next year and will most likely truly be the last variants of the Pentium 4 that Intel will produce.

The other difference with Presler is that it now runs with a front side bus speed of 1,066MHz, up from 800MHz on the Extreme Edition 840. However, the old Pentium 4 Extreme Edition running at 3.73GHz featured a 1,066Mhz front side bus, so it’s more of a reintroduction rather than a first.

As with the EE 840 both cores feature Hyper-Threading, as well as Execute Disable Bit (buffer-overflow protection) and EM64T 9 (64-bit processing). What’s new is support for Virtualisation. This is technology that enables you to run a virtual computer inside your CPU. It’s been available previously through software such as VMWare but it’s the first time there’s been hardware support and its presence here is welcome. It could be used to run multiple operating systems at once, useful for development, or simply to browse the Internet in a virtual machine, helping to protect your system from viruses.

At the same time as the CPU launch Intel has also launched yet another chipset – the i975X. Intel claims that this offers improvements in memory performance over the i955 through what it calls Memory Pipelining. The chipset support DDR2 up to 667 and features FlexMemory enabling you to get dual-channel support with an uneven number of memory DIMMS. This means you can go from two 512MB DIMMS to add a third DIMM and still gain the benefit of dual-channel.

The board unusually offers three PCI Express graphics slots. You can have one single lane x16 slot or two x8. With three graphics card in place you can attach up to six monitors from one machine. The two cards offer support for multi-rendering. SLI is not available as nVidia has locked it down to nForce4 but CrossFire is supported out of the box and I’m pleased to say that it does work without need for any painful and lengthy tweaking. We tested it with two X850 cards and obtained a decent 3D performance boost.

The rest of the board is what you would expect with eight SATA ports coming of an ICH7R Southbridge and Matrix Storage RAID with NCQ support. There’s only one Ethernet socket though I imagine most brand manufacturers will add a second.

We tested the new chip and board together using two 1GB sticks of RAM and a 7800 GT. We put it up against a older Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.73GHz, to see how the new dual-core compared with the high clock speed of the old style CPU.

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