Introduction:

We all knew that Intel had a bunch of new products coming, but by the time all the working parts got there we had little time to get the benchmarking done let alone anything else. We usually have a good 3-4 week advance on a new processor entering the market. This time around we ended up with less than three days thanks to shipping problems, dead/missing parts, and thunderstorms causing power outages. Due to having less than 72 hours to get everything running before the NDA expired we will focus on what is new and jump right into our testing. We skip the fluff and show you the current Prescott CPU's on the Intel 875P and 925X chipsets. This will allow you to see if this platform is worth upgrading to or not from your current platform.

Today Intel has launched the LGA775, or Socket T platform for the masses. Along with the new socket design Intel is also coming out with two new chipsets (alderwood/grantsdale), six new processors, PCI Express for both graphics and sundry peripherals, Intel's High Definition Audio, the new SATA controller on the all-new ICH6/R southbridge, DDR-II memory, new power supply requirements, and many more small features! As you can tell each of these new areas could have an article/review dedicated to them, but we can't start to even ponder that due to our time constraints.

The New Processors:

The model numbers for the migrated processors and the new 3.6GHz Prescott are as follows with pricing for 1,000-Unit Quantities are shown below.

All five chips will use an 800MHz front-side bus, contain a single megabyte of L2 cache memory with a 256-bit (32-byte) internal bus, 16KB L1 data cache (64-byte cache lines), 12Kµop trace cache, SSE3 instruction support, and use the HyperThreading protocols of the current Pentium 4. A sixth chip, the 3.4GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition, will be redesigned for the 775-pin socket and has the same features as a socket 478 EE processor, but this time with a price tag of $999.

Below are some shots of our Intel 560 proscessor running on our test bed.


Intel 560 CPU Specs


Intel 560 Cache

 

Intel Reference Cooling for Socket 775:

When the Prescott originally came out as a socket 478 processor, heat was an issue for many right off the bat. We took a look at why the Prescott temperatures were so high back in Feburary and the reasons we found back then are still the case today. This time the Prescott comes with a different heatsink mounting system and therefore it comes with a new heatsink design. Intel once again teamed up with Chaun Choung Technology Corp. (CCI), to help develop a cooling solution to handle the heat and new socket design. They came up with the Intel Radial Curved Bifurcated Fin Heatsink (or RCBFH-3 Reference Design) that is shown above.

Although the heatsink looks a bit cumbersome it is actually very simple to install and remove. To install it align the heatsink mounts to the motherboard holes and push till you hear a click. To remove them you just twist the fastner cap a quarter turn and pull up on the cap. Once you have done this on all four mounts you just remove the heatsink. It is really that simple!

With the system at idle on the test bench we were recording processor temperatures at 40C and load temps just under 60C with the processor fan speed set manually at high. This allowed the fan to run at 2,500RPM's, while if you let the BIOS handle cooling it idles at 500RPM and adjusts to the usage of the processor. We will hit more on cooling the prescott later and will also give some watercooling benchmarks as our waterblock kits for the new socket T processors are being delivered today.

The Chipset(s):

Today we have three new chipsets:

Here is a diagram of the new i925x Chipset:

PCI-Express

The x16 graphics card slot is the one of the main highlights of the new chipsets and is supposed to be the replacement for the current AGP interface. The new PCI-Express slot can handle 8 GB/s of traffic compared that to the 4GB/s AGP 8x is capable of. This gives the graphics card almost direct access to the system memory and also incorporates bi-directional data transfer. Think streaming High Def video and gaming here people!!

The four x1 PCI-E slots, or "one lane" slots, get 250MB/s of bandwidth in each direction. This makes for an effective 500MB/s of bandwidth for quick data transfer for new audio devices and other add in cards. This too is a massive improvement as a current PCI slot moves 75MB/s of data across the data bus. While we haven't used anything on these yet, I'm sure in the near future we will start seeing everything from NIC cards, audio cards, RAID controllers all be re-designed for the new x1 PCI-E bus.

Storage Technology

Intel's new SATA controller on the ICH6 is a step forward from what was available on ICH5. Intel has actually introduced a few new storage technologies with the 9xx chipsets! First and foremost is Matrix Storage Technology, which basically allows you to use RAID 1 and RAID 0 on a single pair of drives and the other new technology is Native Command Queuing (NCQ). NCQ is one of the first advantages we are seeing from native SATA hard drives (as opposed to bridged solutions, which is what everything is right now). What NCQ does is allow the drive to 'decide' whether to execute commands, or queue them for later, depending on the current state of the drive (where the heads are, etc). This is pretty neat technology and we expect that NCQ will become mainstream across all storage controllers. While we have not had time to check out this new technologt we were shown this whitepaper from Seagate and Intel and it explains it in more detail for the time being.

DDR2

If you've been to Legit Reviews before you know we pride ourselves in our memory reviews. Expect complete coverage of DDR2 in a seperate article in the upcoming week. We've been able to hit DDR2 667 and will tell you our thoughts on DDR2. Right now DDR2 533MHz is the staple memory and comes at 4-4-4-12 CAS Latencies. Expect lower timings in the upcoming weeks as new IC's are hitting the market and companies like Corsair are already adapting these new IC's!

Hi Definition Audio

Finally I am seeing the death of the AC97 codecs! This was a weak point on every motherboard that we have come across recently, but this is no longer the case! Now we are going to be able to have 192kHz, 24 bit, 8 channel audio from an on-board solution! This is great news for everyone, but the add in card partners such as Creative.  The new High Definition Audio also supports Dobly Digital EX and DTS ES. Indeed this is the biggest jump for integrated audio in 5+ years!

Wi-Fi

Although not available to us just yet & it's disabled in our grantsdale review board, Intel will have a version of their southbridge with integrated Wi-Fi (802.11g). 802.11g is capable of 54Mbps, and is fully backwards compatible with the well-rooted 802.11b. The only concern is that it has quite a lower range.


Individual Test Systems:

Testing Procedure :

All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows XP Professional build 2600 with Service Pack 1A and DirectX 9.0b. All benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. No overclocking was done on the video card durning 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.

To keep the testing as fair as possible we used an ATI 9600 XT and an ATI X600 XT both clocked at the same speeds. For this we had to overclock out memory on the 9600 XT, but this should allow for pretty equal video card performance since both are running the same core design at identical memory and core speeds. Both cards had the core clocked at 500MHz and a memory clock of 740MHz. This should yield an equal 2.2GB/sec of memory bandwidth for both of the cards and allow some "equal" benchmarking for gaming performance.

Now for the results!

Memory Bandwidth Testing:

Everest 1.1 :

Everest 1.1 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.

 

Sisoft; Sandra 2004:

Sisoft Sandra 2004 is designed to test the theoretical power of a complete system and individual components. The numbers taken though are, again, purely theoretical and may not represent real world performance. Higher numbers represent better performance in memory bandwidth.

ScienceMark 2.0 Beta:

ScienceMark 2.0 is different from other benchmarks, in a sense the benchmark tests a series of different memory bandwidth algorithms. To top it all off the assembly source for these copy routines is available online to help assure the benchmark is not biased towards any one platform in particular.

Results: It's fairly obvious that the 533MHz DDR2 memory found on our Intel 560 test system performed on par with 400MHz DDR1 memory. Yes, in some areas such as Everest READ testing DDR2 pulled ahead, but not enough to make us jump up and down. One of the reasons that improvements to the memory bus seem lackluster to us is because recent Intel and AMD processors have not been "starved" when it comes to memory bandwidth. Meaning improvements found here more than likely wont translate to real world performance gains, but more bandwidth can't technically hurt your system!

Synthetic Testing:

FutureMark; 3dmark2001 SE, Build 330:

Results: The AMD Athlon 64 3800+ shows some muscle on 3dmark2001 and is 1,000 points ahead of the new Intel 560 platform.

Massive Development; AquaMark3:

The AquaMark3 executes a complete state-of-the-art game engine and generates 3D scenes designed to make the same demands on hardware as a modern game. The utilized game engine, the krass™ Engine, has been used in Aquanox and AquaNox 2: Revelation as well as in the upcoming RTS Spellforce by Phenomic Game Development. AquaMark3 utilizes recent hardware features of the new DirectX 9 API, such as PixelShader 2.0, while staying fully backward compatible to DirectX 8 and 7 graphics hardware.

Results: The AMD Athlon 64 3800+ and the "old" Intel Northwood (3.4 C) lead the pack for CPU rating when run on Aquamark3.

SuperPi 1.1e :

SuperPi calculates the number Pi in this raw number crunching benchmark. The benchmark is fairly diverse and allows the user to change the number of digits of Pi that can be calculated. In this benchmark we ran SuperPi to 4 million places.

Results: SuperPi turned out to be a head to head battle for the Intel 560 and the AMD Athlon 64 3800+. Only a two second difference seperated the processors, which is not a significant difference.

Let's move on to some more benchmarks.

Professional Testing:

MAXON; CINEBENCH 2003:

CINEBENCH 2003 is the free benchmarking tool for Windows and Mac OS based on the powerful 3D software CINEMA 4D R8. The tool is set to deliver accurate benchmarks by testing not only a computer's raw processing speed but also all other areas that affect system performance such as OpenGL, multithreading, multiprocessors and Intel's new HT Technology. Again, higher Frames/Second and lower rendering time in seconds equal better performance.

Results: When rendering Scene 1 on CineBench 2003 we found that the Intel 3.4 C processor still proved to be the quickest with the AMD Athlon 64 3800+ right on it's tail.

Case Lab CFD Solver:

The benchmark testcase is the AGARD 445.6 aeroelastic test wing. The wing uses a NACA 65A004 airfoil section and has a panel aspect ratio of 1.65, taper ratio of 0.66, and a quarter-chord sweep angle of 45º. This AGARD wing was tested at the NASA Langley Research Center in the 16-foot Transonic Dynamics Tunnel and is a standard aeroelastic test case used for validation of unsteady, compressible CFD codes. The CFD grid used to model this problem consists of 67,435 nodes and 366,407 tetrahedral elements.

Results: On our Case Lab benchmark the Intel 560 and AMD A64 3800+ again are running neck to neck! The 3.4GHz Prescott is roughly 20 seconds faster than the 3.4GHz Northwood when solving the Case Lab STARS CFD.

POV-Ray 3.6.0:

The POVRay benchmark is great for showing the performance levels of various processors and compilers by timing how long it takes for POV-Ray to render a standard image with standard parameters.

Results: Chaulk up two more "wins" for the AMD Athlon 64 3800+ when rendering scenes in POV-Ray. The 3800+ managed to finish rendering Chess2 an amazing 58 seconds ahead of the next closest processor -- the Intel 560.

Professional Testing:

FutureMark; Bapco SYSmark2004:

SYSmark2004 provides an application-based benchmark that accurately reflects usage patterns for business users in the areas of Internet Content Creation and Office Productivity.

The overall combined rating of each CPU:

Results: The Prescott's have always done well on SYSmark2004 and with the new platform and 200MHz frequency increase the Intel 560 takes the lead.

ScienceMark 2.0 Beta:

Science Mark 2.0 is an attempt to put the truth behind benchmarking. In an attempt to model real world demands and performance, ScienceMark 2.0 is a suite of high-performance benchmarks that realistically stress system performance without architectural bias. For the Memory Testing, higher numbers represent better performance. On the remaining tests, lower seconds represent better performance.

Primordia "calculates the Quantum Mechanical Hartree-Fock Orbitals for each electron in any element of the periodic table." We ran the benchmark on default using Argon as our element.

Results: On all three of the ScienceMark benchmarks the AMD Athlon 64 3800+ take the lead with the new Intel 560 snagging second place in two of the three benchmarks.

Game Testing:

NovaLogic; Comanche 4:

The Comanche 4 benchmark demo is a unique benchmark as it represents a real-world gaming experience. It contains the single player Eagle's Talon mission from the game as well as a detailed cinematic. This DirectX 8.1 benchmark demo measures your system's performance in the standard frames per second format. We ran our benchmark at 640 x 480.

Results: The Intel Prescott processor family proved to be slower than 3.4GHz Northwood and the AMD Athlon 64 3800+ when used for Comanche 4.

Epic Games; Unreal Tournament 2003:

Using the full installation of Unreal Tournament 2003 along with the newest patch gives us a very nice real world benchmark! We also used [H]ardOCP's UT2003 Benchmarking utility version 2.1. A resolution of 640x480 was tested in Direct3D on the built-in [H] CPU test.

Epic Games; Unreal Tournament 2004:

Using the full installation of Unreal Tournament 2004 with patch 3236 gives us a benchmark based on one of the most popular first person shooters on the market today! We used a custom demo to test the CPU performance.

Results: In both UT2003 and UT 2004 the AMD Athlon 64 powered past the Intel CPU's and took the win. On both versions of UT the Intel 560 came in second place.

Game Testing

Activision; Call Of Duty:

Using the full installation of Call of Duty along with the newest patch gives us a very nice real world benchmark! We also used a custom demo for our testing at 640x480.

Results: Looks like the same result as we saw on UT2003 and UT2004! AMD's 3800+ in the lead and the Intel 560 following behind!

Nathan Kirsch's Thoughts:

I'm not sure how I can write a conclusion about all these changes after only having all this hardware up and running for less then 72 hours. But I'll give it a shot! We have a lot of new technologies being used on the new platforms, but overall performance is not reflective of all these changes. Actually it seems that the new Intel 560 processor (3.6GHz Prescott) picks up where the 3.4C Prescott left off on the Canterwood (i875P) platforms. While some people might consider a small increase in performance a dissapointment you are jumping to conclusions too quick. The Canterwood chipset was using technology that was at the end of its lifespan. By this I mean DDR1 memory was reaching the frequency limits of current IC's and the AGP technology was about as good as it could get. Now we have new technology that is starting from scratch! I've seen the projected life of DDR2 and 16xPCI-Express and if all goes as planned this technology will eventually become impressive. I guess we should thank Intel for paving the way with new technology and actually getting it to all work together. It's one thing to look at each idea on paper, but another ball game to put it all together and to work the bugs out.

Although I didn't mention much about memory and video cards everything we tested ran fine. We used both the ATI RV380 and the Nvidia NV45 PCIe video cards which both ran flawlessly on our test systems. We also were able to get some pretty impressive memory scores and performance on our retail ABIT AA8-MAX Alderwood motherboard. By this I mean DDR667 performance right now. Expect us to write follow-up articles on memory, video and overclocking performance in the upcoming days.

One thing that I have been hearing all the time is how fragile the socket is that Intel used on these motherboards. During our testing I only swapped out our processor a handful of times and during which didn't have any issues. We have heard motherboard manufacturers say that after anywhere from 5-20 removals the socket begins to show signs of wear. Trust me when I say that if this is the case I will reach that upper number very soon and will report our findings back to you. As of right now we haven't had any problems with the socket design and so far actually love the way many heatsinks mount on it.

Everytime we write an article for the initial launch of a product I get all the "can I buy this" questions. The answer is kinda sorta. Our sources at various retailers say they have some of the processors and boards in stock, but their stock of PCI Express video cards is limited. DDR2 is not a problem as we have seen Corsair's DDR2 at Fry's for almost three months now! Also after benchmarking the Intel 560 and the AMD Athlon 64 3800+ head to head in this review I feel the results speak for themselves. If the results aren't enough for you add the pricing for each system and see which comes in lower.

As for the future expect all the chipset technology to stay the same, but only get better! We were on the phone with AMD and Intel for a couple hours yesterday talking about what's next (Oh yes... they are in full swing on the next processors!) and the race for multicore processors in 2005 are well underway. AMD has already sent their design to tape and Intel would not comment on how far along they are. If you were expecting to see a huge jump in performance with LGA775 systems maybe in 2005 with multi-core technology for CPU's you will finally see want you wanted to see today.

Legit Bottom Line:

Intel has brought a ton of new technology to the table and so far it starts where the previous technology left off. How far will this new technology will go and the performance benefits from it have yet to be fully understood!