I can vividly remember attending a keynote at IDF, Intel’s biannual developers forum, about 2 years ago and the speaker telling the audience that the NetBurst architecture would scale all the way up to 10GHz. In another keynote, talking about Intel’s new Prescott core for Pentium 4, the speaker explained how the Prescott core would reach clockspeeds of 5GHz shortly after the introduction and that Intel would continue to push the clockspeed envelope as they have been over the years. Today things are certainly different for Intel, not only did they recently announce that there would be no 4GHz Pentium 4, but the Intel Pentium 4 570J, at 3.8GHz, could very well be the last member of the Pentium 4 family. That’s in sharp contrast with the announcements previously made and mostly due to difficulties with getting the 90nm process to scale well in clockspeed which forced Intel to refocus on other technologies. Despite all of the advances made in 90nm process technology Intel was only able to scale the Prescott core Pentium 4 by a mere 400MHz, that’s a far cry from 5GHz or better.
The Pentium 4 570J populating the LGA775 socket on the motherboard.
Today we take a look at the Pentium 4 570J and try to answer the question whether 200MHz extra clockspeed helps it to reign supreme and beat the fastest Intel processor to date; the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.46GHz. As the J denominator indicates, there's obviously more to this 570J CPU than the 200MHz speed bump. It is actually a new stepping of the Prescott core, adding support for the NX bit, or rather ‘no execute’ bit. This no execute protection ability allows the Pentium 570J processor and operating system to work together to prevent the execution of certain code that could potentially be harmful to the system. This feature, which is supported by Windows XP Service Pack 2, and debuted with AMD’s Athlon 64 processors on the desktop first, helps to prevent exploits such as buffer overflow which are commonly used to infect systems with viruses. Adding to that the new Prescott core stepping provides promises to rid us somewhat from the blistering hot temperatures these processors run at with support for an enhanced halt state that will put the brakes on power consumption and heat dissipation when the processor is not been taxed that much.
The LGA775 heatsink installed on top of the Pentium 4 570J processor.
Obviously we’d like to see how this new Pentium 4 processor stacks up to the Pentium 4 3.46GHz Extreme Edition as well as the Athlon 64 FX-55 and midrange Athlon 64 3500+. To do that we used the exact same hardware on both the Intel and AMD platform, except for the motherboard and memory modules. We used an Intel i925XE chipset motherboard for both Intel processors and a NVIDIA Nforce4 Ultra motherboard for both AMD processors. All systems were tested with an NVIDIA GeForce 6800GT PCI-E graphics card, a single 250GB Maxtor Maxline III Serial-Ata harddisk and 1GB of OCZ PC 4300, cas 4-4-4-8, DDR2 or OCZ PC3200, cas 2-2-2-5 memory. Windows XP was used with SP2 installed and all the latest WHQL drivers on both the chipsets as well as the graphics card. To gauge the performance of both chipsets we measured the overall performance using Futuremark’s 3Dmark05, accompanied by some benchmarks on compressing DVD to DiVX, CD to MP3 and data files to ZIP files.
As can be seen from the above benchmarks the Pentium 4 570J fails to impress, it is consistently bested by the Pentium 4 3.46GHz Extreme Edition and the Athlon 64 FX-55, even the mid-range Athlon 64 3500+ comes awfully close in some benchmarks. But in all honesty we weren’t expecting much, Intel has long since been playing the clockspeed game with small increments in processor clockspeed. Does this new processor change anything about Intel’s current position in the market? Not really, AMD is still the performance leader and also has quite a few cards up its sleeve with features such as 64-bit support that Intel has yet to match on the desktop. We can therefore say that this new Intel processor is just another speed bump. Besides the NX bit and reduced power consumption and heat dissipation it isn’t anything to get excited about. If you’re looking to upgrade from a 3.2GHz or faster Intel processor we’d suggest you don’t as the upgrade will not buy you any real-world performance advantage, period.