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Intel Pentium 4 3.2E GHz Prescott Processor Review

Intel Pentium 4 3.2E GHz Prescott Processor Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: Remember back in November of 2000 when the 1.5GHz Pentium 4 first came to light?
 75% Rating:   
Filed under: CPU / Processors Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Intel Feb 01 2004   C. Angelini  
Home > Reviews > CPU / Processors > Intel Pentium 4 3.2E

Prescott's new SSE3 Instructions

Originally dubbed Prescott New Instructions, Intel now refers to the core's 13 additional instructions as SSE3. Of course, you won't see any immediate benefit from the technology until software developers begin employing the instructions in their code. Intel's C++ Compiler for Windows 8.0 supports development with SSE3, so it's only a matter of time before optimized applications start emerging.

Representatives at Intel surmise that media applications will be the first with SSE3 support. There are five principle areas that SSE3 improves upon: x87-to-integer conversion, complex arithmetic, video encoding, graphics, and thread synchronization. Intel's own technical documentation speculates that SSE3 will enable significant performance gains in the aforementioned fields; however it remains the responsibility of software developers to implement the changes.

Two of the instructions contained within SSE3 deal specifically with Hyper-Threading, a technology that allows one physical processor to be recognized as two logical processors by a compatible operating system. The basic idea behind Hyper-Threading is that by permitting two threads to execute simultaneously, more of a processor's resources will be utilized under load. Intel also improved the way Hyper-Threading handles parallel operations.

Previous versions of the technology limited the processor to working on one thread or another, causing a bottleneck that would impede performance. With Prescott, Intel made additions to the types of operations that may be conducted in parallel.

Core Improvements

Beyond the marketable additions to the Pentium 4, Intel's engineers also spent time improving parts of Prescott's core. For example, both the static and dynamic branch prediction algorithms have been enhanced. Within the execution core itself, Intel claims to have reduced latency on the Pentium 4's double-pumped ALUs and improved scheduler performance. The hardware prefetcher is also more efficient.

Given the number of enhancements Intel is discussing, you'd expect a sizeable performance increase. However, another of the engineering team's design considerations goes a long way in hampering performance. The Pentium 4's execution pipeline was designed for scalability, which is why the same micro-architecture has so gracefully aged from 1.5GHz to 3.4GHz.

In order to procure frequencies as high as 4GHz by the end of this year, Intel is now employing a 31-stage pipeline rather than the previous 20-stage implementation. In building such a deep pipeline, Intel has enabled those higher frequencies, but at the cost of IPC, the number of instructions successfully executed each clock cycle. Fortunately, the other core enhancements nearly compensate for the loss, leaving Intel in a position where it hopes to scale Prescott quickly to improve actual performance.

At one point, it was speculated that Prescott would sport the execution protection (NX) technology featured in AMD's Athlon 64 family and Intel's Itanium. NX separates application code and data in order to prevent buffer overflows, a common technique employed by virus authors. Microsoft will enable the feature in Windows XP Service Pack 2; however, AMD will be the only one to support it, as Intel has not yet implemented NX in Prescott. According to an Intel representative, extensive testing needs to be conducted to ensure NX doesn't break compatibility with any existing software titles.

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Contents of Article: Intel Pentium 4 3.2E
 Pg 1.  Intel Pentium 4 3.2E GHz Prescott Processor Review
 Pg 2.  — Prescott's new SSE3 Instructions
 Pg 3.  Prescott Compatibility and Heat Levels
 Pg 4.  Benchmarks: Winstone 2004, PCMark04
 Pg 5.  Benchmarks: 3DMark03, Sandra 2004
 Pg 6.  Benchmarks: X2: The Threat, Comanche 4
 Pg 7.  Benchmarks: UT2003, SuperPI
 Pg 8.  Benchmarks: ScienceMark2, QIII Arena
 Pg 9.  Conclusions on Prescott and POVray 3.5

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