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Intel's 64-bit Technology: Come Late, Stay Quiet.
Intel's 64-bit Technology: Come Late, Stay Quiet. - PCSTATS
Intel's recent incorporation of 64-bit x86-compatible instructions into its chips could be classified as pretty much invisible.
Filed under: CPU / Processors Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Intel Mar 01 2005   M. Dowler  
Home > Reviews > CPU / Processors > Intel Pentium 4

EIST: Enhanced Intel Speed Step technology

A second major new 'feature' that sees the light of day with the 6xx line of Pentium 4s is an enhanced version of Intel's Speed Step technology. Speed Step was first seen helping to preserve battery life in Pentium III notebook computers by reducing the speed (and hence the power drain) of the processor when it had less work to do. A clever solution perhaps, but far inferior to Transmeta's LongRun2 power management technology which has recently been licensed by Sony, Fujitsu and NEC.

EIST keeps the same concept more or less as Speed Step. What this technology does is to dynamically scale the speed of the processor between its default clock setting and a minimum speed (at the moment) of 2.8GHz based on how much CPU horsepower is needed at that moment. This should have the twin benefits of reducing power consumption and heat. It functions very much like AMD's Cool n' Quiet technology, albeit with a smaller range of temperature adjustments. EIST should not require as much interaction with the motherboard as AMD's dynamic throttling technology does though.

EIST works hand in hand with Intel's current TM2 (Thermal Monitoring 2) and C1E (Enhanced Halt State) technology. While the latter two systems reduce processor speed during overheating and idle states respectively, EIST kicks in when the processor is busy, but not as busy as it could be.

The combination of these three technologies should add up to some decent power savings and a cooler running processor, though the effect will be more pronounced with higher GHz P4 chips, since the minimum reduced clock speed remains at 2.8GHz. The TM2 technology is also able to shut the processor down completely in the event of drastic overheating such as a fan failure.

Why the lack of fanfare?

So it seems that Intel has made solid, sensible additions to their Pentium 4 line of processors, positioning them to compete with AMD on an essentially level playing field for the near 64-bit future. So why haven't we heard much about it? The 6xx processor line was released at midnight on a long weekend Sunday, which next to Christmas is about the lowest possible ebb for tech news. Let's look at some of the possibilities:

KISS (Keep Inside the Sales Strategy)

Intel recently switched to the 'processor number' naming system for their processors (Pentium 4 530, 600, etc.) ditching the traditional MHz/GHz speed measurement as a component of the chip names. This was done mainly because the company is scraping the ceiling of what can be done to increase the speed of the current Pentium 4 architecture. The Pentium's future likely lies in the slower but considerably more efficient 'M' core processors along with performance improvements to existing designs that do not include ramping up the speed (the boost to the 6xx chips' L2 cache memory being a good example).

Either way, Intel probably does not want the GHz value labeled on processors anymore, seeing as many consumers still use the simple equation (GHz+moreGHz) =mo'better.

When AMD switched to 64-bit, it essentially dumped the Athlon XP+ line of processors, throwing the Sempron chips out as a low priced 32-bit alternative to its otherwise exclusively 64-bit set of Athlon64/FX processors. The Athlon64 was a radically different design from the older chips, necessitating a series of new sockets and chipsets. AMD pretty much had to leave the old tech behind to avoid confusion.

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Contents of Article: Intel Pentium 4
 Pg 1.  Intel's 64-bit Technology: Come Late, Stay Quiet.
 Pg 2.  Pentium 4 6xx series: birthplace of Intel desktop 64-bit
 Pg 3.  — EIST: Enhanced Intel Speed Step technology
 Pg 4.  What AMD and Intel Did

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