Intel's Pentium 4 3.4GHz processors

Prescott and Northwood ramp up

BACK ON SUPERBOWL Sunday, while the world was distracted by Janet Jackson's boobie, Intel quietly introduced its new Pentium 4 "Prescott" processor. As if football and the peep show weren't enough distraction, Intel also unleashed its Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processor running at 3.4GHz, an exotic new CPU capable of putting up some mind-numbing benchmark scores.

Amid the spectacle of wardrobe malfunctions and abnormally large caches, some noteworthy developments got a little lost. For one, the new Prescott processor was a shockingly major replumbing of the familiar Pentium 4, with an uber-deep 31-stage pipeline and a host of internal tweaks. These changes made Prescott usually a little slower, clock for clock, than the previous Pentium 4. What's more, Intel was launching a pair of products, the Pentium 4 3.4GHz and 3.4'E' GHz processors, that didn't appear to exist yet. We were testing old and new Pentium 4 cores, Northwood and Prescott, at 3.2GHz, but not beyond. Only the P4 Extreme Edition was available for review at 3.4GHz.

The fact that samples weren't available to the press was a bad omen. Over the ensuing days and weeks, it became clear Prescott supplies were tight at any speed. However, about three weeks ago, Intel made good on its promise to follow up with samples of its Pentium 4 3.4GHz chips when they became available. Today, at last, we can show you how they perform.

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