It has been almost four months since Intel introduced its Pentium 4 processor fabricated on 130nm technology, an event which came over a year after the introduction of the first Pentium 4 processor (which was built on 180nm technology). In fact, itís likely that during the early stages of its design, the Northwood was meant to be the true first Pentium 4. Pressure from AMDís excellent Athlon processor may have forced Intel to push plans forward, prompting the release of the 180nm, OOI-packaged Pentium 4 before the 130nm process and Socket-478 mBGA package technologies were fully prepared.
Fig 1. A look at the 478-pins of a Socket-478 Pentium 4. Despite the higher pin-count this new form factor is significantly smaller than the old Socket-423.
Nevertheless, Northwood is here now, and although itís currently consigned to the high-end, and thus outside the price bracket of most, its performance hasnít disappointed. The smaller die size has allowed Intel to include an additional 256KB of on-die L2 cache, while increasing the clock speed and decreasing power consumption and power dissipation at the same time.
Today, Intel is releasing the newest member of the Northwood family, the Pentium 4 2.40GHz. Naturally, we jumped at the opportunity to take Intelís fastest desktop processor ever for a spin. We have, however, decided to take a somewhat different approach to our benchmarking procedures. Youíre going to see a lot of benchmarks showing how the 2.40GHz Pentium 4 performs versus a 2.20GHz Pentium 4, possibly a 2.00GHz Pentium 4, and likely AMDís current best, the AthlonXP 2100+. As one might guess, theyíll likely show that the Pentium 4 2.40GHz is about 6-8% faster than the 2.2GHz Pentium 4 on average, and more or less on par with (or perhaps slightly ahead of) the AthlonXP 2100+.
Thatís not necessarily helpful, and since youíll be able to find it easily in at least ten other places, thereís no sense in us showing you the same numbers. Further, if John Q. Public already owns a 2.20GHz Pentium 4, heís probably not interested in the 2.40GHz part (unless he makes a lot more money than we do!). Instead, weíve decided to show you how the Pentium 4 2.40GHz compares to a high-end desktop system of just a year or so ago. Weíll test our 2.40GHz monster against what would have been a state-of-the-art desktop system not long ago, consisting of a Pentium III 800MHz. This should give a reasonable idea of the performance delta anyone using a Pentium III, Athlon, Duron, or even Celeron at that clockspeed could expect from an upgrade to Intelís latest.