Intel not dropping P4 Extreme Edition

You may have gotten the idea somehow that Intel has decided to cancel its Pentium 4 Extreme Edition line of processors. I'm not sure how¬ósomething about a headline proclaiming such, perhaps, followed by various forum posts to that effect.

Since this non-story is beginning to affect our inboxes, I thought I'd better take a second and point out something about it: it just isn't so. The report that touched off this story refers only to the 3.2GHz version of the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition, which has been supplanted by the 3.4GHz flavor. The Pentium 4 EE 3.4GHz should be no stranger. We reviewed the Socket 478 variant of the P4 EE 3.4GHz two times in conjuction with other product launches, and we most recently reviewed the LGA775 version of the 3.4GHz EE alongside Intel's new PCI Express chipsets. This newest Extreme Edition chip is only now beginning to trickle out on to the market, some say.

Intel's move to cancel the P4 EE at 3.2GHz is no different than AMD's decision to discontinue the Athlon 64 FX-51 once the FX-53 came along. Maintaining multiple speed grades of this flagship "image product" makes little sense, especially when top-rung desktop parts like the Pentium 4 "Prescott" 3.6GHz and Athlon 64 3800+ offer performance similar to the older revs of said flagship parts. Heck, I'd half expect Intel to drop the Socket 478 version of the P4 3.4GHz EE before too long, since the 925X Express chipset is the obvious new choice for an "image" platform.

Not that we've heard any news to that effect, let me be clear.

We have, in the past, questioned Intel's commitment to the Extreme Edition product and concept, but Intel has backed up its iffy initial introduction of the EE as a means of not being embarrassed by the Athlon 64 FX-51 with new product variants and longer term support. Indeed, with Prescott's lukewarm performance and the spotty availability of higher frequency parts, Intel needs a speedy flagship part now more than ever.

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