Why does Pentium 4 seem to be a flop?

Stonda/Extended Mind

Pentium® II, Pentium® III and Celeron® have been more or less modified versions of Pentium® Pro(P6), which was introduced in 1995 (if I can remember right). This old basic solution was faced by its winner last year. Advanced MicroDevices introduced Athlon® in 1999 and from there it has been competing for the title of the most powerful processor for PCs. Intel totally screwed up with Pentium® III manufacturing problems and AMD saw its chance and introduced the Thunderbird processor.

Intel finally introduced Pentium® 4 (codename: Willamette) on November 20th, 2000.

But what's new in Pentium® 4?

- NetBurst core

- 42 million transistors (Pentium® III: 28 million transistors)

- 96 kb of L1 command cache memory

- only 8 kb of L1 data cache memory (even twice as fast as Pentium® III's)

- SSE2 commands

- Bus speed: 100MHz QDR (AGTL+, quad-pumped data)

- Socket-423

- 4 ALUs (3 of them are working twice as fast as the other parts in Pentium® 4)

- 20 working phases (Pentium® III and Athlon has got 10)
[at first Pentium® 4 doesn't support SMP (Synchronous Multi Processing)]

AMD Thunderbird 1.2 GHz kicked Intel Pentium® 4 1.5 GHz's ass in almost every test performed with them except in Quake3.
For instance, Pentium® 4 scores very badly in 3D Studio Max.
And Pentium® 4 is currently the most expensive x86-system solution available.
Also one guy has already overclocked Pentium® 4 1.5GHz @ 2015MHz!

But what is wrong with Pentium® 4?

Today's programs aren't designed for Pentium® 4.

Only time will show if Pentium® 4 and NetBurst core will be powerful and offered for a reasonable price in the future. NetBurst is a new core, and we can remember Pentium® Pro, can we? It was quite a "flop" but its core is still used in Pentium® 3. So, if Pentium® 4 is a flop, wonder what kinds of processors might use its core?

But in the next year Intel will start to manufacture the Pentium® 4 processor in 0.13 micron technology, which allows reduced power consumption and even higher clockspeeds. Also before that, Intel might introduce Pentium® III models which are manufactured in 0.13 micron technology. And those models could challenge Pentium® 4 processors with their speed and price.

Also Intel has decided that RDRAM (Direct Rambus DRAM) is their choice. The only problem is that RDRAM is usually twice as expensive as ordinary SDRAM memory. And Intel itself has partly agreed that using RDRAM was a mistake.

This is an unsolved competition. Pentium® 4 and Thunderbird have got a few good sides and a few bad ones. But I'm waiting for IA-64...

Stonda/Extended Mind
Toni Saarikko