Intel's Stealth Release

By Loyd Case  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

Intel bumps up the frontside bus speed for the Pentium 4 and updated 925XE core logic, but support for the faster frontside bus speeds is only for the rarified Extreme Edition processor.

AMD has been steadily marching up the processor performance curve, while Intel has been scrambling for a new strategy, having to face up to the fact that scaling to 4GHz and beyond simply may not be possible with this chip architecture. Scaling up the frequency was critical to Intel's plans, as the deeper pipeline in the latest Pentium 4 architecture, based on the Prescott core, mandated higher clock speeds in order to ratchet up performance.

Even this release of the long-anticipated support for 1066MHz frontside bus is marred by Intel's lack of execution. We had anticipated two processor releases to coincide with the release of the updated version of the 925X chip set, dubbed the 925XE—one based on the 90nm Prescott core and the other a new Pentium 4 Extreme Edition. However, the higher clock rate 90nm Pentium 4 is a no-show. We do get the 3.46GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition. The move to a 1066MHz effective FSB (266MHz actual clock) is welcome. The P4 now is in sync with dual-channel DDR2/533 speeds.

Even so, it's not all perfect. For example, the new 925XE no longer supports ECC memory, so if you need that level of error correction, you'll have to stick with the 925X. All the other features of the 925X are present, including four SATA ports, Intel HD Audio, and the 1GB per second DMI (Direct Media Interface), a bidirectional interface between ICH6R and the MCH (Memory Controller Hub). While the 82925XE MCH no longer supports ECC, Intel engineers tweaked it a bit, and it's capable of handling lower latency DDR2 memory.

We took an Intel D925XECV2 reference motherboard and the 3.46GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition and put it through its paces. We also wanted to see the impact of lower latency DDR2, so we dropped in a pair of Corsair Twin2X 5300C4Pro modules and ran them at CAS 3-3-3-12. We had been unable to run the 925X version of this board even when using high speed premium modules.

Click here to read the rest of this story at ExtremeTech.

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Loyd Case came to computing by way of physical chemistry. He began modestly on a DEC PDP-11 by learning the intricacies of the TROFF text formatter while working on his master's thesis. After a brief, painful stint as an analytical chemist, he took over a laboratory network at Lockheed in the early 80's and never looked back. His first 'real' computer was an HP 1000 RTE-6/VM system.

In 1988, he figured out that building his own PC was vastly more interesting than buying off-the-shelf systems ad he ditched his aging Compaq portable. The Sony 3.5-inch floppy drive from his first homebrew rig is still running today. Since then, he's done some programming, been a systems engineer for Hewlett-Packard, worked in technical marketing in the workstation biz, and even dabbled in 3-D modeling and Web design during the Web's early years.

Loyd was also bitten by the writing bug at a very early age, and even has dim memories of reading his creative efforts to his third grade class. Later, he wrote for various user group magazines, culminating in a near-career ending incident at his employer when a humor-impaired senior manager took exception at one of his more flippant efforts. In 1994, Loyd took on the task of writing the first roundup of PC graphics cards for Computer Gaming World -- the first ever written specifically for computer gamers. A year later, Mike Weksler, then tech editor at Computer Gaming World, twisted his arm and forced him to start writing CGW's tech column. The gaming world -- and Loyd -- has never quite recovered despite repeated efforts to find a normal job. Now he's busy with the whole fatherhood thing, working hard to turn his two daughters into avid gamers. When he doesn't have his head buried inside a PC, he dabbles in downhill skiing, military history and home theater.

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