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Intel finally launches Prescott

Faster P4 Extreme Edition, too

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Intel will today launch 'Prescott', the 90nm version of the Pentium 4, along with a pair of faster P4s based on the 130nm 'Northwood' chip.

Five Prescotts will debut: two at 2.8GHz, and one each at 3GHz, 3.2GHz and 3.4GHz. Priced at $163, $178, $218, $278 and $417, respectively, the chips will the suffixed with an 'E', to distinguish them from Northwood P4s running at the same clock speed.

The prices are a few bucks more than those published by many web sites which were keen to jump the gun ahead of Chipzilla's official announcement. The first four Prescotts will go on sale today - the 3.4GHz will follow in March.

The two new 130nm parts are a 3.4GHz P4 and the 3.4GHz P4 Extreme Edition. The former will be priced at $417, the latter at a whopping $999 - more than the cost of entire systems based on lesser P4s.

All but one of the seven processors support an 800MHz effective bit rate frontside bus. The EE release has 2MB of L2 cache; the 3.4GHz P4 has 512KB, while the Prescotts have 1MB of cache apiece. A single 2.8GHz Prescott ships with a 533MHz FSB and lacks HyperThreading support.

The Prescotts also introduce 13 new x86 instructions, dubbed SSE 3. A revised architecture based on a longer, 31-stage instruction pipeline will allow Prescott to reach clock frequencies of 4GHz and beyond. Northwood has a 20-stage pipeline. The chip contains 125 million transistors.

Prescott extends the Northwood architecture with improved instruction and data pre-fetch, better branch prediction - for a forecasting accuracy of a few fractions of a percentage point more than Northwood- a tweaked HyperThreading system, lower shift-rotate and imul latencies, and extra write-combine buffers.

Yesterday, Intel trimmed the prices of its existing range of P4 chips, as expected. It also cut the prices of its Mobile Pentium 4 chips, again as anticipate, making way for upcoming Prescott-based version of the parts. ®

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