Intel Unleashes the Presler Processor

Usually around this time of the year we show you dozens of benchmarks with the next generation Intel Processor with the whole AMD versus Intel mentality. Legit Reviews is still going to do that, but just not today. This morning at 10am Intel announced its new Pentium Processor 955 Extreme Edition CPU, formerly code-named Presler. This chip, which goes on sale to the public on January 16 for $999, is the second generation of dual-core consumer desktop CPU's from the chip giant. Intel has made a number of changes to it's dual core processor series and many will call this Intel's first true dual core processor. This processor features two separate cores with 2MB L2 cache each for a total of 4MB, a 266MHz Quad Pumped Front Side Bus for a solid 1066MHz system bus, Intel Virtualization Technology, and it was all done on the 65nm process over the previous 90nm package found on the previous Prescott and Extreme Edition processors.

The Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 955 Processor

After getting the Intel Pentium Processor 955 Extreme Edition "Presler", holy cow that is a mouthful, we quickly found out that a couple rumors going around the internet were not true.  One was about the temperatures and the other being the overclockability of the processor in general. Without further ado let's look at the new gem in Intel's Enthusiast portfolio. Taking a look at the Presler (Shown above in the middle) we can easily notice that it looks different from the Intel 5xx, 6xx, and 8xx processors that surround the new kid on the block.  Let's see if CPU-Z can read the processor correctly.

A CPU-Z Shot of the Intel 955 Processor

It looks like CPU-Z is showing everything okay except for the voltage that the Vcore is running at.  Our unlocked processor is running at a multiplier of 13 with a front side bus (FSB) of 266MHz for a total core frequency of 3.46GHz.  Not a bad core speed for a CPU having doubled the cache than the previous Extreme Edition, which was the Intel 840 with a total cache of 2MB.

Intel Processor 955 Extreme Edition Features and Specifications

Intel 9XX Series Processors and Pricing:

If you are starting to read this article and already losing hope, because there is a $999 price tag fear not as Intel is also rolling out several other 9XX series processors at lower price points. Intel has confirmed that it has been mass-producing 65 nm Pentium D processors for some time now in its D1D fab in Hillsboro, Oregon and they will be on the market to purchase starting January 16, 2006.

It seems like the only difference that the Intel 955 has over the other 9XX series processors is the higher front side bus and a bigger price tag. The lower end processors should provide overclockers and enthusiasts who want to overclock a great price versus performance value as you will see when you get to the overclocking section.

Intel Pentium Processor EE 955 Specifications:

Intel 955 Processors Feature Chart:

Intel Pentium Processor Extreme Edition 955 Features

Feature Benefit

Dual-Core Processor

Provides two independent processor cores in one physical package allowing the platform to do more in less time while you enjoy responsive interaction with your PC

Intel Hyper-Threading

Allows each core to function as two logical processors providing better data throughput when used with thread-enabled software

Intel Virtualization
Technology

Enables platforms to run multiple operating systems and/or applications in independent partitions or environments

2 x 2 MB Level 2 Cache

Each processor core is equipped with its own 2 MB Level 2 cache allowing the execution cores to quickly access data for processing

1066 MHz FSB Delivers

Delivers excellent system bandwidth for maximizing efficiency and improving system performance

Execute Disable Bit

Offers improved protection against malicious "buffer overflow" attacks when properly enabled with a supporting operating system

Intel Extended Memory
64 Technology

Enables platforms to access larger amounts of memory and will support developing 64-bit operating systems and applications

Now that we know the basic features of the Presler processor let's move on to taking a closer look at the temperatures.

Intel Processor 955 Extreme Edition Temperatures

Intel 840EE Versus Intel 955EE Idle Temperatures:

The Intel 840 and Intel 955 both came with identical cooling solutions, so we thought we would take a look at both of the processors on our test bed. We removed the thermal pad on the retail heat sink and applied Arctic Silver Lumiere, which doesn't require a break in ( We tried to keep the numbers as consistent as possible). We thought it would be good to start off with the Intel 840 Extreme Edition first and found that at idle on the desktop the processor ran at 45C.

Intel 840EE Temperature at 45C idle

Moving along to the Intel Processor 955 Extreme Edition we see a 6C rise in temperatures.

Intel 955EE Temperature at 51C idle

Many of the people I talked to about the Presler before it was launched was under the impression that the processor temperatures would decrease when Intel moved over to the new 65nm process, but as you can tell that is not the case.  They forgot to add in that doubling the cache from 2MB to 4MB is a lot of cache that tends to get warm when used. 

Intel 840EE Versus Intel 955EE Power Consumption:

When it came to power consumption the results were in-line with what we expected after seeing the temperature numbers.  The Intel 840EE at idle on the desktop sucked up 159 Watts of power like nothing while the Intel 955EE used 185 Watts on the same exact test bench.  It looks to us like the extra cache is power hungry.   To get some "load" numbers we fired up Futuremark's 3DMark 2005 and got some interesting results.  The Intel 840EE peaked out at 317 Watts while the Intel 955EE peaked at 312 Watts. These results were confirmed on a number of different CPU intensive benchmarks.  Looks like the Intel Pentium 955 Extreme Edition Processor consumes more at idle and less at load than the previous generation Intel dual-core processors.

Enough with the bad let's take a look at some good... To Overclocking we go!

Intel Processor 955 Extreme Edition Overclocking

After running our general testing benchmarks we thought we would "drive it like we stole it" and found some interesting results during testing.

Intel Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

Intel Pentium 955

Motherboard

Intel D975XBX

Video Card

BFG Tech 7800GTX

Hard Drive

Western Digital 250MB

Cooling

Corsair COOL

Power Supply

OCZ 600W Powerstream

Operating System

Windows XP Professional

To start things off I left everything alone and overclocking the processor by doing nothing, but increasing the front side bus (FSB) via the 0-30% overclock feature that is found in the Intel D975XBX motherboard BIOS settings.  After start at 5% I was able to go all the way to 20% before the system became unstable.  Using the stock heat sink, no extra voltage, and changing just one setting in the BIOS our processor got a solid 700MHz overclock.  The FSB easily went from 266MHz all the way up to 320MHz with no extra voltage to the MCH, FSB, or processor.  I was amazed by these results and wanted to know what it could do with a bit of tinkering on the voltages, multiplier, and with the help of water cooling.

Default Voltages and a 20% overclock on the Intel 955

After some trial and error in the BIOS we were able to hit 4.76GHz on the desktop!

Increased Voltages and a 19% overclock on the Intel 955

With an increase in the processor multiplier and some small voltage increases on the processor and MCH we could easily hit a stable 4,763MHz on our processor. That is a 1.3GHz overclock! How stable is it really?

Intel 955 running super pi at 4.7GHz

Stable enough to run Super Pi and a number of other benchmarks, but not stable enough to run Prime 95 overnight.

With the prescott processor family Intel told us back in 2004 that they would "Hit 4Gz in 04", which never happened.  The Intel 570 and 670 processors came close at 3.8GHz, but Intel couldn't hit the mark.  In 2005 the first generation dual core processors were launched and overclocking the Intel 840 could be done, but it didn't have a high overclock and started out at just 3.2Ghz.  Now entering 2006 we have a new processor coming out that is able to overclock to roughly 4.8GHz on the reference Intel board and with a $200 water cooler that anyone can buy and install in under twenty minutes.  While Intel has kept their mouth shut on how well they expect these new 9XX series to scale we think they know and it is high.  Maybe in 2006 we will see 5GHz if we are lucky and in all honesty 5GHz shouldn't be hard on these if the retail processors perform any where close to how our test sample did. 

With all said and done we hope you liked our initial coverage of the new Intel 955 Processor.  Today we covered the features, pricing, temperatures, power consumption and our overclocking results.  In the next article featuring the Intel 955 Processor we will put it up against the AMD A64 X2 series and see how it does in your typical Green versus Blue type of article.

Feel free to post your thoughts in our free forums as we would love to hear your feedback!