Intelís last major product release was its Prescott core, a revised implementation of the NetBurst micro-architecture, first introduced during the tail-end of 2000. With regard to clock frequency, Prescott took over where its predecessor, Northwood, left off, leveraging an advanced manufacturing process to reach never before-seen speeds. A larger L2 cache served to further augment performance in many applications. Intel also added support for its SSE3 instruction set, which isnít yet a prominent boon, but will become more relevant as software developers optimize for it.
However, Intel made some compromises in the process, elongating the architectureís execution pipeline in a bid to help enable those anticipated higher frequencies And as a result, the immediate benefits gleaned from higher clock speeds, larger caches, and advanced manufacturing were all counteracted. Weíve since seen that same Prescott core come into its own at speeds up to 3.6GHz and 3.8GHz. Yet, the general consensus is that, as a gaming platform, the Pentium 4 falls short of AMDís Athlon 64.
The new 6, looking like every other LGA775 chip
Same goes for the bottom
The good news is that Intel realizes its current position in the market and is working to rectify that situation. From dual-core processing in the long-term to broad platform improvements in the short-term, Intel is most certainly bent on improving its product lineup. The 600-series Pentium 4 processors represent the companyís most exciting effort for gamers in recent history, making absolutely zero trade-offs in the name of procuring extra speed.
In fact, youíll find that the 600-series goes a long way to neutralize some of AMDís key advantages, both in terms of raw speed and value-added features. The obvious caveat is that a 600-series chip costs more than a similarly-clocked 500-series processor. Intel is hoping that the new core more than justifies the corresponding price increase, though.
Enter The 6-Series
Just as BMWís 6-series is much more attractive than that offal it calls the 5-series, so is Intelís new six more favorable than the five it replaces. To begin, all 600 chips come with 2MB of L2 cache, doubling Prescottís original 1MB. And, like Intelís mobile Pentium M, the sixes feature EIST (Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology) to reduce power consumption during idle periods. Finally, thereís EM64T technology, 64-bit extensions purportedly backwards-compatible with AMD64 and borrowed from Intelís Xeon DP family.