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Intel Pentium 4

Pentium 4


It has been five years since Intel introduced an entirely new CPU architecture in the form of the Pentium Pro back in November 1995. In the following five years, the Pentium Pro developed into a wide range of processors including the highly sucessful Pentium II, Pentium III, Celeron and Xeon lines. The P6 core scaled from 120 MHz at launch up to 1 Ghz (1000 MHz) where it sits today with the current Pentium III processor, and has been one of Intel’s most sucessful processor families.

Five years though is a very long time in the x86 world and now the P6 is beginning to show its age as the Pentium III is having difficulty in running faster than 1 Ghz and it is now being outclassed in many areas by AMD’s rival seventh generation Athlon processor. Thus it is time for Intel to move away from the ageing P6 and onto its own seventh generation processor in the shape of the Pentium 4.

The Pentium 4 is not a surprise to many Intel watchers as many people have followed the rumours and press releases surrounding the “Willamette” processor which Intel had in development. The “Willamette” though only really began to capture significant attention at this years Intel Developer Forum when it was announced that the Pentium 4 would feature a significant number of new innovations including a double-pumped ALU, 400 MHz Front Side Bus, Trace Cache and SSE 2 instructions.

It appeared that Intel may at last have a processor with which it can rival the AMD Athlon and re-capture some of its lost market share. The Pentium 4 also is the way forward for Intel regarding its future x86 processor strategy, and we are likely to see the Pentium 4 and other NetBurst architecture chips appear in a similar way to which Intel developed its P6 processor line.

So, what does the Pentium 4 bring? What do the new architectural innovations of the Pentium 4 mean, and most importantly is the Pentium 4 worth buying?


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