The new chip paves the way for faster clock speeds, but
its current version is generally slower and hotter than predecessors and the
Intel's new Prescott-based Pentium 4 has debuted with
performance measurements mostly slightly below that of its predecessor,
Northwood, and below its main competition, AMD's Athlon64, according to ZDNet
benchmark tests published yesterday.
The results come as little surprise to testers, as new Intel
chips usually debut with lower performance than their predecessors at the same
clock speed. However, the results call into question Intel's strategy of
marketing on clock speed rather than performance, particularly since Prescott
must dissipate significantly more power than Northwood and the Athlon64,
according to testers.
"As far as Intel's marketing department is concerned,
'megahertz sells'," said ZDNet's Kai Schmerer in the review. "With its extended
31-stage pipeline, the Prescott Pentium 4 is generally slightly slower than its
predecessor, despite having double the cache. But the longer pipeline means that
Intel can continue to drive up Prescott's clock speed."
The Prescott system tested dissipated significantly more
power than comparable chips under a full load, coming in at nearly 250 watts,
compared with nearly 200 watts for a Northwood system and about 168 watts for a
comparable Athlon64 system. Power dissipation affects how systems are designed,
because hotter chips must use more powerful fans and other cooling technology to
For content creation tasks, AMD's chip beat its Intel
competition, with Prescott clocking in faster than Northwood despite its
extended pipeline. Other tests, including Internet performance and game load
times, generally found AMD's chip performed better than Intel's offerings, with
Northwood performing slightly better than Prescott.
Schmerer said the high power dissipation levels for Prescott
could be a cause for concern, particularly with clock speeds preparing for an
upward ramp. "At 3.2GHz no other desktop processor requires as much power as the
Prescott Pentium 4, which should reach 4GHz by the end of 2004," he said. The
situation has led some industry observers to suggest that Intel will adapt its
far more efficient Pentium M mobile chip (see ZDNet UK's Tech Guide: "Inside
Intel's Pentium M/Centrino") for desktop use.