by May 8, 2004 0 comments

Prescott is the successor to Intel’s P4 Northwood core processor. Three notable changes brought in are: the shift to 90 nm fabrication process, doubled L1 and L3 cache sizes of 16 KB and 1 MB respectively, and 13 new instructions called SSE3. Currently, the highest clock speed in the Prescott is 3.4 GHz. This isn’t much higher than the Northwood based CPUs, but future releases are expected to go much higher. We reviewed the 3.2 and 3.4 GHz versions, both of which support Hyper Threading and have 800 MHz FSB. 

We tested the two Prescotts and one Northwood based P4 3.2 GHz (see table) on an Intel D875PBZ motherboard with 512 MB dual channel DDR 400 memory and GeForce 4600 Ti graphics card having 128 MB dedicated video RAM. We ran Business and Multimedia Content Creation Winstone to measure the processors’ capabilities to run productivity and high-end multimedia apps. We also ran Quake III Arena and 3Dmark 2001 SE to check out graphics and gaming performance. Lastly, we also did some audio and video encoding tests, wherein we converted about 770 MB worth of WAV files to MP3, and encoded 794 MB of video to DivX. Surprisingly, we hardly found any performance difference between the Northwood and 3.2 GHz Prescott. This might be because existing applications aren’t able to make use of the new features in the Prescott.

Results for the 3.4 GHz Prescott were only slightly better, wherein we saw an improvement of 3-4 % in most tests. 

So are the new Prescotts worth buying? Well, the 3.2 Prescott and Northwood are available at the same price, so it doesn’t make sense to go for the Northwood now. Plus, the future releases of Prescott would be on a totally different socket, and will only fit on Intel’s upcoming Alderwood and Grantsdale chipsets-based motherboards. So unless you’re in a real big hurry to buy a PC, it might be better to wait a while for the new platform. 

Winstone 2002 Winstone Units
Content Creation 2003 Winstone Units
Arena 640*480*16 fps
Marks 2001 SE 3D Marks
X 5.1.1 Encoding min:sec
Encoding min:sec
3.2 GHz
33.4 49.2 425.4 19284 12:05 3:24
3.2 GHz
33.7 51 423.7 19863 12:13 3:42
3.4 GHz
34.7 53 440.6 20565 11:36 3:28

Siddharth Sharma

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