Intel 6xx Series CPU's Arrive With New Features!

Intel Pentium 4 660 Processor

Over the holiday weekend Intel officially announced the new Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.73GHz processor and four processors in their Pentium 4 6XX series (rated as 660 to 630). Today we have the Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition at 3.73GHz and the Intel Pentium 4 660 in house for testing.  Both of these processors use a new Prescott core that features 2MB of L2 cache and are EMT64 enabled! 

When the Prescott first came out the longer pipelines and the increased temperatures from the new 90nm core shocked even the most die hard Intel fans.  With the Intel P4 6XX series Intel strived to add performance while at the same time lowering power consumption and temperatures.  The new improved  core is still manufactured using the 90nm strained silicon production technology just like the original Prescott, which has been in use on the Pentium 4 5XX processors for almost a year now. Since the Prescott core is by no means new or unknown let's jump right into the new features.

The New Features:  

The die increase that we talked about above can be seen below via the images of the old Prescott core and the Prescott 2MB with extra cache:

 


Prescott w/ 1MB L2

 


Prescott w/ 2MB L2 Cache

As you can see the new core is very similar to the old core.  From just looking at the die pictures it seems as if they just added more cache and made some other minor changes. Below are CPU-Z version 1.27 screen shots of our two processors that we are showing you today. 


Intel Pentium 4 660


Intel Pentium 4 3.73GHz EE

Both of our processors have 2048 KBytes of L2 Cache and are based on 90nm core technology.  Both CPU's also feature a stepping code of 3 and a revision number of N0.  The biggest difference between these two processors is the Bus Speed that they run at.  The 660 is  running at 800MHz, while the 3.73GHz EE is at 1066MHz.  One more difference that can't be seen here, but can easily be spotted when you try to pay for these is the price difference.  The Intel 3.73GHz Extreme Edition is priced at $999 in 1,000 unit quantities while the Intel 660 rings in at $605.  

Many of our readers are enthusiasts that love overclocking so I know what you are thinking by this point -- An extra $400 for 66MHz FSB?  I'm sure every overclocker out there just got a big smile on their face and so did we when we noted that the Intel Pentium 4 630 runs at 15 x 200 = 3.0GHz and costs only $224!  With a multiplier of 15 and a sub $250 price this processor may easily hit close to a 1066MHz Bus Speed for less than a quarter of the price of the 3.73GHz Extreme Edition. As always you have to have the right hardware to overclock and don't forget it may void your warranty, increase temperatures, and overclocking is not endorsed by Intel.  (Who themselves allow for overclocking up to 10% in their own boards BIOS options.)

A Closer Look at C1E Technology

Now that you know that what the new core is all about and you understand what other changes Intel made let's compare the 5XX series to the 6XX series and the latest Extreme Edition processor. This chart should help the visual learners also as all the data is side-by-side.

 

Pentium 4 5XX

Pentium 4 6XX

Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.73 GHz

Package

LGA775

LGA775

LGA775

Processor rating

570, 560, 550, 540, 530, 520

660, 650, 640, 630

None

Clock frequencies

2.8 ? 3.8 GHz

3.0 ? 3.6 GHz

3.73 GHz

Bus frequency

800 MHz

800 MHz

1066 MHz

Core

Prescott

Prescott 2M

Prescott 2M

Manufacturing technology

90nm, strained silicon

90nm, strained silicon

90nm, strained silicon

L1 data cache

16 KB

16 KB

16 KB

Trace cache

12000 micro-ops

12000 micro-ops

12000 micro-ops

L2 cache

1024 KB

2048 KB

2048 KB

EM64T

None

Yes

Yes

XD-bit

Yes

Yes

Yes

EIST

None

Yes

None

Hyper-Threading technology

Yes

Yes

Yes

SIMD-instructions support

SSE, SSE2, SSE3

SSE, SSE2, SSE3

SSE, SSE2, SSE3

Number of transistors

125 mln

169 mln

169 mln

Die size

112 sq.mm

135 sq.mm

135 sq.mm

Let's take a look at the new C1E functionality that can be found on the new Intel Pentium 4 660 processor.

After installing the new CPU's into our ABIT Fatal1ty AA8XE test board we noticed some new lines of text while our system was powering up.  It looks like the public BIOS revision that ABIT has out for the Fatal1ty board supports both C1E and can at least detect that our processor is EM64T enabled! 

Post Screen

Since most people don't know what C1E is now would be a great time to take a closer look.

C1E: Enhanced Halt State Technology

The first line in the bios that you may not know is C1E or as most know it Enhanced Halt State. This is when a processor can dynamically reduce the motherboard frequency multiplier (FID) and voltage (VID) yet also restore to the original performance state (nominal FID/VID) when necessary. This is all done automatically if you have the right software.  Using C1E requires a motherboard with a suitable BIOS version, and an operating system supporting the feature, such as Windows XP w/SP2. C1E was first seen on the Intel 570J and has been proven more efficient than the older halt mode technology. On the Intel 660 processor we noted that roughly 20W was all the power the CPU needed in idle mode.  The C1E feature is available on all the newest Socket 775 Pentium 4 processors, but we were told that over time it should cover the entire Socket 775 family.


Automatic Management Enabled


Full Load then Idle Testing

Since C1E is something that goes un-noticed we downloaded RightMark CPU Clock Utility 1.3, which is a nice little utility that allows you to monitor and control what your processor is doing.  On our Intel 660 procesor we were able to set the FID (frequency multiplier) from 14-18x and the VID (voltage) from 1.2 to 1.4V.  We then set our profile to run automatic management and ran some benchmarks.  It was noted that our Intel Pentium 4 660 idled at 2.8GHz (14x200 @ 1.2Volts) and under load it went back to the maximal performance settings for 3.6GHz (18x200 @ 1.4Volts).

From our testing thus far it looks like C1E is an improvement over the previous C1 method.  As an enthusiast I'd more than happily take any improvements that help to lower the power consumption and reduce the heat on the Prescott cores! From our understanding all processors with J and 3 steppings should offer C1E.

Individual Test Systems:

Testing Procedure:

All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows XP Professional build 2600 with Service Pack 2 and DirectX 9.0c. All benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. No overclocking was done on the video card during any of this review. We did disable the Firewire, and LAN features if found in the BIOS menu for all the testing completed during this review.

3DMark2005 Version 1.2.0

Futuremark's 3DMark2005 is one of those benchmarks that you either love or hate.  No matter what your feelings are on it you can't deny that it is the most used and it is free to download and use yourself.  We like using it so you can compare your results to ours!

3DMark Benchmarks

Results: Looks like the extra cache on the new Intel processors was just enough to put in the top two spots on 3DMark2005. Now let's take a look at the CPU specific tests and see if we can find some differences!

3DMark Benchmarks 

In CPU Test #1 it looks like it is clear that the extra MB of cache on the prescott core helps give the new Intel CPU's a boost in performance in 3DMark2005.

3DMark Benchmarks 

This time around it doesn't look like the extra cache can be used and the AMD processors take the lead and tie for the third spot.

DOOM 3

While the previous benchmark was all synthetic testing the following Doom 3 benchmark is the real deal.  Doom 3 is still one of the most popular games today and is one of the best FPS benchmarks out there as game updates won't ruin your demos like on HL2.  We ran the time demo benchmark at 640x480 to keep the GPU bottleneck out of the test results.

Doom 3 Benchmarks

Results: AMD's Athlon 64 once again shows pure dominance when it comes to gaming. Taking first, second, and third place above both of Intel's 1066MHz FSB Extreme Edition Processors.

Memory Bandwidth Testing

Everest 2.0 :

Everest 2.0 is a professional system information, diagnostics and benchmarking program for Win32 platforms. It extracts details of all components of the PC. It also tests the actual read and write speeds of your memory to give a fairly accurate look of true memory performance.

Everest Write

Looks like a toss up when it comes to write speeds. 

Everest read

When it comes to read speeds the Prescott core has always been strong, but with the 1066FSB it easily takes the lead!

Putting the pieces together

Final Thoughts & Discussion

Nathan Kirsch's Thoughts:

The battle for the most MHz is long gone as the battle has shifted to more cache and better thermal properties.  The famous Intel marketing quote of "4GHz in 04" is no closer now nearly 3 months into 2005 than it was last year.  So by adding EMT64, an additional 1MB of cache, and better ESIT are the 6XX series CPU's better than the previous 5XX processors?  Before we answer that we need to look at pricing. 

Pricing in 1,000 unit quantities:

As you can clearly see the pricing really covers from the mainstream price range all the way to enthusiast level prices.  When you compare the pricing on the Intel 530 to that of the current $224 Intel 630 processor you will note that the Intel P4 630 is roughly $30 more.  Lower temperatures, Execute Disable Bit for virus protection, 64-bit operating system support, and an additional 40 million transistors for an additional $30 seems more than worth it if you ask me. 

When it comes to the newest Extreme Edition processor the 3.73GHz EE I'm almost at a loss for words.  The move from a 130nm to a 90nm core means that the Prescott has finally arrived, but it brought with it the famed longer pipelines and the performance levels over the 3.46GHz EE are minimal.  The 3.73GHz EE also lacks Speedstep and the C1E halt state unlike the 6XX series which all have these features.  After looking at the benchmark data again I'd almost rather have the less expensive Intel P4 660 with all the bells and whistles over the Extreme Edition processors that cost more and offer less in some cases. 

With all that said the Intel P4 6XX series of processors are by far the best Prescott cored processors that we have seen from Intel thus far.  I am glad to see that things are coming together for Intel because pretty soon dual core processors are coming out and all the features that just got added will be needed in all of the dual core CPU's.  Intel can't have another launch like they did with the original Prescotts and if things keep on track we expect the battle between Intel and AMD to be a "rematch" on the desktop side of things. 

 

Legit Bottom Line:

The Intel P4 6XX series processors are a breath of fresh air for the Prescott processor that has been under fire since the day they were launched!