Yesterday, Intel unleashed next-generation Pentium 4 chips, ushering in a new chip design that lets the processors scale to new speeds. Intel released four new Pentium 4 chips based on its Prescott family of processors that run at 3.4GHz, 3.2GHz, 3.0GHz, and 2.8GHz--with an 800MHz bus speed. In addition, a new 3.4GHz version of the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition microprocessor that's based on the Prescott technology is now the fastest desktop processor in the world. Intel manufactures the chips by using a new 90 nanometer (nm) process that allows for a smaller physical package, which yields twice as many transistors as the earlier-generation Northwood Pentium 4 processors. And because the new chips are smaller than their predecessors, Intel can cut more chips from a silicon wafer, resulting in lower production costs.
"This new manufacturing technology, along with numerous architectural enhancements, enable us to continue delivering products that allow end users to interact with a wide variety of digital devices," Bill Siu, general manager of Intel's Desktop Platforms Group, said. "These processors provide improved responsiveness for today's corporate and home applications and offer headroom for the next wave of technologies." In addition to new speeds, which Intel says will scale to 4GHz by the end of the year, the new chips also feature the Hyper-Threading Technology multitasking feature from earlier Pentium 4 designs and a larger 1MB of L2 cache, further increasing its performance advantage over competing chips (earlier Pentium 4 versions featured 512KB of L2 cache). Intel says that the chips also include 13 new instructions that will increase the performance of multimedia applications.
Unlike most processor revisions, the new Pentium 4 designs actually consume a bit more power than the earlier generation did, drawing 90 to 115 watts of power, depending on the chip's speed. Intel says that the higher power requirements are a result of expanded L2 cache and additional processor instructions. Major PC makers such as Dell, HP, and Sony are already shipping new PCs that feature the 3.2GHz, 3.0GHz, and 2.8GHz versions of the new microprocessors. Intel says it will ship the 3.4GHz versions to PC makers by March.