It doesn't matter exactly how the Pentium 4 Extreme
Edition came about - whether it was a reactionary maneuver to
counter AMD's Athlon64 or if Intel's attitude towards enthusiasts is genuinely
Perhaps it's a stopgap solution until the 'Prescott' core is readied;
maybe Intel will continue manufacturing Extreme Edition processors. Nobody
really knows. However, the fact remains that Intel recognizes a market for
high-end processors targeted at power users. AMD's Athlon 64 FX-51 is the
pioneer in this market (AMD did unlock its flagship processors for easy access
to overclocking controls, after all); however, Intel's willingness to compete on
the same battlefield promises to ignite a rivalry of epic
According to representatives at
Intel, system builders will be the first to receive Pentium 4 Extreme Edition
processors at some point in November. Incidentally, it's a bit early to get
excited about the Extreme Edition. Boxed processors were originally scheduled to
appear early next year, but a recent exchange with Intel suggests we might see
the chips appear prior to Christmas.
then, AMD occupies the performance throne with its pricey Athlon 64 FX. It is
the fastest processor in the majority of our benchmarks, and it holds a lot of
potential for higher operating frequencies through simple BIOS adjustments. It
comes at a price, though, requiring a new processor, motherboard, and memory.
And thus, it isn't easy to wholeheartedly recommend the platform. We expect a
Socket 939 interface to materialize mid-way through next year that will replace
the current Socket 940 design. Along with standard DDR400 memory support, the
new socket will replace incompatible 940-pin processors. Fortunately, the Socket 754 Athlon 64
is another speedy alternative from AMD. It's cheaper, too.
When it does finally arrive,
Intel's Pentium 4 Extreme Edition will play second fiddle to the Athlon 64 FX.
That it will work with existing Socket 478 boards and memory modules may be its
saving grace, though. If today's shootout gives any indication of things to
come, 2004 will be a good year for power users who've been put off by Intel and
AMD's measures to limit overclocking. And if Intel continues its Extreme Edition
family after the 'Prescott' core emerges, we'd expect even higher performance
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