Intel’s Pentium 4 – A Worthy Successor?

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I must admit that even though the Intel P4 has been on the market for quite some time I have not had an opportunity or taken the time to test one. There just didn’t seem to be a need. The mainboard line I carry did not have a model supporting it and those that did just weren’t selling too well. And there just didn’t seem to be a ‘push’ in the industry to promote it. Also the overall sales numbers I’ve seen, other than to large OEM’s, seemed to indicate that the ‘home builder’ market didn’t have much interest in the P4. Then we had the RDRAM (Rambus) issue – it has been costly and not too well received in the industry or by end users in regards to performance. Since the P4 Mainboards currently only use RDRAM, that appeared to be quite an issue.

But, Intel is committed to the P4 and it will soon be the mainstream desktop CPU from Intel. Also RDRAM has been dropping in price, and while it’s still more expensive than SDRAM or DDR SDRAM the price is low enough to not be much of an issue anymore. Intel also revised the CPU packaging recently with a new 478 pin layout and upped the speed to a current maximum of 2.0GHz. More and more mainboard manufactures are either producing i850 RDRAM based mainboards, or will be over the next few months. Intel will have a SDRAM chipset available shortly, then will follow with a DDR SDRAM chipset early next year. Ali and SiS both have plans for P4 chipsets, as well as VIA (however there are licensing issues with VIA). Seems like the Intel P4 is starting to make an impact on the market.

So it looks like it’s time to take a good hard look at the P4, along with the i850 chipset, since it seems to becoming a more interesting and viable product. Intel was kind enough to send a new 478 pin 2.0GHz P4 and D850MD Mainboard for us to test with, so I had no more excuses. I have read a number of newsgroups posts and seen a number of reviews about the P4, as you may have. Most were not too kind, but I just couldn’t help to wonder if they were really an accurate reflection of real world performance. I just couldn’t see Intel making the blunder of producing a next generation CPU and chipset that wasn’t up to the job. So I guess I do have some preconceived expectations, but I’ll try to not let them ‘cloud’ my judgment.

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