Intel Pentium4 2.8GHz 26th October 2002
Today we're bringing you a review of Intel's highest clocked (for the moment) CPU - Their flagship 2.8GHz Pentium4. First, let's be clear of what won't be in this review. There won't be any office productivity benchmarks because at this speed it will be practically impossible for a user to notice a difference in how fast their applications open and other bottlenecks (hard drive etc.) make this benchmark not very useful. There won't be any games benchmarks as it doesn't matter whether you can get 200 fps in Quake 3 or 300fps although we will be changing this viewpoint when Doom 3 is released. If you want these kinds of benchmarks there are plenty of sites that proliferate the Internet just to bring you graphs of these types of data. We will be showing you how well the Pentium4 does in benchmarks where speed makes a tangible difference such as video encoding where a person can die of old age while waiting for a slow processor to finish a job.
We received from Intel an engineer sample P4 2.8GHz to allow us to overclock the chip easily and an Intel D845GEPV2 to make sure we couldn't do so at all (just kidding - If you want to see how far a P4 can go with the 0.13 micron process do a google search)
The D845GEPV2 motherboard seems to have everything onboard so we didn't need any expansion cards. Motherboard manufacturers should take note of the high quality of Intel's installation CD which installed everything in sequence without a glitch. This board also has the fastest POST time I have ever seen.
We equipped the board with 256MB DDR2100 memory (it wouldn't work with our ECC DDR2700 DIMMs). Comparison systems were a Dual Athlon MP 1800 system and an Athlon XP2000+ system. All 3 systems had the same speed of memory in them. The task is firstly to encode a DVD rip of Jet Li's The One and then to convert the AC3 sound track to Vorbis audio. Those of you unfamiliar with Ogg Vorbis should really look into it as it gives you better quality than MP3 at half the file size. All possible optimizations were used (SSE for the Athlons and SSE2 for the P4).
We obtained the following average framerates(FPS):
Pentium 4 2.8GHz - 43
Athlon XP2000+ - 33
Dual Athlon MP1800 - 52
The following times were obtained for completing the audio conversion (lower is better):
Pentium 4 2.8GHz - 12:31
Athlon XP2000+ - 10:56
Dual Athlon MP1800+ - 12:08
So what does this tell us? The P4 does well against the Dual CPU rig in video but loses out to an Athlon XP2000+ in the audio conversion. How is this possible? The answer is simple - The P4 architecture relies on a high FSB to keep its long pipelines full. There would be an almost linear increase in performance with DDR2700 memory.
What's the point of this review? It's a taster of things to come as next month we will see the launch of the P4 3.06GHz with HyperThreading and the Springdale chipset from Intel. We're not allowed to tell you just how much of a difference Dual Channel DDR (333MHz x 2) will make but you will be pleasantly surprised.
Upcoming articles will show you how to make the most of SSE2 optimizations and HyperThreading. We'll also show you how to exceed 100 frames per second in Divx 5.02 encoding using a P4, Springdale Chipset motherboard and HyperThreading.
Our thanks got to the PR Team at Intel UK for the loan of this equipment.
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