Intel preps 1MB cache 130nm Pentium 4s

Extreme Edition to be priced high - very high

Intel intends to charge a whopping $925 for its Pentium 4 Extreme Edition - the recently announced 3.2GHz part with 2MB of on-die L3 cache.

And the chip giant plans to offer regular Pentium 4 chips with 1MB of cache to expand the number of high-end desktop parts it offers before the arrival of 'Prescott', its next-generation P4 chip.

The Extreme Edition, designed to compete with AMD's Athlon 64 FX-51, is due to ship early next month, DigiTimes reports. Its price is almost $300 more than the typical $637 entry point of top-of-the-range Intel desktop CPU introductions. Prices are per processor when sold in batches of 1000.

With all that L3 cache, the chip's die size is significantly larger than that of the regular P4, so yields are likely to be lower, not only because Intel can punch out fewer per wafer but the bigger the die, the more likely it is to have imperfections that prevent it running at the desired clock speed, or not at all.

Such imperfections may explain for the release of 1MB cache 2.8, 3 and 3.2GHz P4s. If a given chip won't run at 3.2GHz, Intel will try it at a lower clock speed and offer it at that frequency.

That said, it's not clear from DigiTimes' story whether these parts have 1MB of L3 cache, the P4's L2 cache has been increased from 512KB to 1MB, or Intel has added just 512KB of L3. All are possible, but the first and last are the more likely, we believe. The recently released 3.2GHz Xeon DP which Intel described as offering "1MB of cache", actually has 512KB of L2 and 1MB of L3.

Either way, the new chips should shore up the current 130nm P4 line while Intel ramps up 90nm Prescott volumes. That chip is likely to begin shipping at the very end of the year, just before the close of Intel's fiscal fourth quarter after Christmas. Even then Prescott is likely to be in very short supply. ®