Itís hardly a secret that Intel has fallen on tough times as of late, and in several different markets. That was the situation when Intel unveiled its 3.4GHz Extreme Edition this past June, and thatís still the case today. For all of the new technologies enabled by the 925X chipset, Intel just canít seem to catch a break with regard to performance. The fact that high-end PCI Express graphics cards are hard to come by probably doesnít help, but even with the PCI Express GeForce 6800 Ultra we have here for testing, Intelís Pentium 4 has a hard time pacing AMDís Athlon 64 in environments that are limited by processor performance.
But weíre a gaming outlet, after all, and more often than not the most demanding games are limited by graphics, not processor performance, right? Well, Intel isnít really faring well when you take those low-res tests out of the equation, either. The Pentium 4 Extreme Edition is currently priced with an MSRP of $999 and, coupled with a 925X motherboard, requires a pair of new DDR2 memory modules as well. Contrast that with the Athlon 64 family, which consists of several chips that perform at least on par with the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition, and for significantly less money.
Of course Intel knows itís in a sticky situation, which is probably one reason weíre already seeing early information on upcoming dual-core architectures, potentially for release midway through next year. Even for the time being, though, Intel is pushing to enable more performance with the puzzle pieces that it has on the table. In other words, itís eking out whatever performance is available from the old Northwood core and a revision of its 925X chipset called 925XE.
Pentium 4 3.46GHz Extreme Edition
Thus, it should come as little surprise that the latest flagship in Intelís Extreme Edition family is a simple tweak of the 3.4GHz part that came before it. Rather than employing a 200MHz front side bus (quad-pumped, if you remember the original terminology, to run at 800MHz) and a hardwired 17x clock multiplier, the new chip uses a 266MHz bus (quad-pumped to 1066MHz) and a 13x multiplier. A simple shuffling of bus speeds and multipliers, if you will.