Intel Dual Core: Pentium EE 840 Arrives

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Intel Pentium Processor Extreme Edition 840

Intel Pentium D Extreme Edition 840
The Pentium Extreme Editon

The New Champ On Top: Intel Pentium EE 840

Dual Core Today:

For more than a year now the enthusiast community has been hearing the benefits of dual core processors.  AMD was the first to announce their move to a dual core solution, and much was made of them beating Intel to tape, only one problem… On April 4th, 2005 Intel made it clear to the whole industry that they have dual core ready and will be launching parts this quarter.  While in recent months it was clear AMD was not going to be the first to launch a desktop dual core part, Intel shocked even me when they told us to be ready to sample dual core in March!  While Intel isn’t officially launching dual core today, it is giving us a chance to “preview” these new processors now and share our thoughts with our readers.  In the following weeks expect Intel to start shipping desktop dual core processors to the retail market.  Pricing is not even set yet, but we expect them to be approximately the same price as any other Extreme Edition released from Intel. 

Today, for the very first time, Intel is letting the media show off the Intel Pentium Processor Extreme Edition 840.  Legit Reviews has the pleasure of being among the first to use the Intel 955X Express chipset, the I/O Controller Hub (ICH7/R), and the Pentium Extreme Edition 840 processor.  Like getting the keys to a rare sports car, I took the new platform for a test drive and found it to be everything I expected. I found amazing performance gains, pitfalls, and many interesting quirks that come with any advance in technology.

The Intel 840 EE is the first desktop processor featuring a dual core design to be given to the mercy of reviewers.  Dual core means that the processor has two full execution cores, both running at the same clock, in one physical processor.  In the case of the Extreme Edition 840, the two cores are each running at a modest 3.2GHz. The Extreme Edition 840 also features Intel’s patented Hyper Threading, which means each processor core has two logical processors for a grand total of 4 threads to be used! 

After waiting more than a year for dual core to arrive, lets get right to the details and take a look at what Intel is up to with the new Smithfield Core. 

The Old Intel Pentium 4 Prescott Processor Core:

The Prescott Core

The New Intel Pentium D Smithfield Core:

Intel will produce a number of different multi-core processors. Initial silicon will feature a “monolithic” design where both cores are on a single die as seen below. The first Intel Pentium D “Smithfield” dual-core processors will use the single-die design. But in the case of 65nm Presler (a CPU slated for production in 2006), the two physical cores will be separate pieces of silicon placed side by side on the same processor in a “multi-chip” design.

The New Smithfield Core:  Is that TWO Prescotts?

As you can clearly see the Intel Pentium D Smithfield core is basically two Prescott processors that have been “bolted” together. Since the release of the Prescott, Intel has put a significant amount of time and money into the design, and has improved it greatly from the original problematic core that it once was.  The first move toward taming the Prescott was the 5XXJ series (E0 steppings), which added XD-Bit and new technologies to lower temperatures (C1E & TM2).  Intel was not done updating the Prescott core, and in February 2005 launched the 6XX series, which added EIST (Enhanced Intel Speed Step) technology for even better thermal properties as well as EMT64 support for next generation 64-bit applications. With the Prescott now fully mature, Intel was able to bring out Smithfield, which is more or less two Intel 6XX series cores attached together. (as seen in the above image)

With the Extreme Edition 840, each of the processing units will have an independent 1MB L2 cache, and Hyper-Threading will be enabled on both cores, which gives the system a total of four processing threads visible to the OS. Hyper-Threading is of course the technology Intel originally introduced in the Pentium 4 that allow a single processor core to handle two processing threads. As it was when Hyper-Threading first came out not all dual core processors will be offering it.  For those not interested in the Extreme Edition series, Intel will have the Pentium D processor.  The Pentium D will have two processing cores and 2MB of L2 cache, but the processor will not have Hyper-Threading support. As a result, the Pentium D will only have the ability to handle two threads, but reach retail shelves at a much lower price point.

Multi-core processors will be compatible with the just announced Intel 955X and 945 Express Chipset families (internally referred to as Lakeport and Glenwood).

Intel Pentium D Extreme Edition 840
The Pentium Extreme Editon CPU

Detailed Block Diagram

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