Northwood at 3.5GHz

If you weren't too impressed by the Pentium 4 2.0GHz launch yesterday, then today's demo of a 0.13-micron Northwood Pentium 4 processor running at 3.5GHz should pique your interest.

While Intel clocked their Northwood at 3.5GHz, they ran through a pretty intensive demo with the CPU clocked at 3.0GHz. The presenters seemed surprised that they were actually up and running at 3.5GHz indicating an unexpectedly high yield on the part. We were slightly disappointed to find out that the system was supercooled but it does show off the potential of the chip. Later today Intel will be showing off an air-cooled 4GHz double pumped ALU (effectively 8GHz) from a future Intel processor. The interesting thing about this demo is that it will be a 32-bit ALU that's being shown off…

The 3.0GHz demo that was run involved the machine running Quake III Arena in a window while serving as a video management server for other computers in the same household. The digital video feeds encoded and sent out by the 3.0GHz system combined with the run of Quake III Arena kept the CPU utilization at 100%. The fact that the demo system did not crash while running at 3GHz with 100% utilization indicates that the yield on the CPU being used was very high.

During a Windows XP demonstration, the Northwood 2.2GHz Pentium 4 was used to demonstrate some of the new features of Windows XP.

With a 512KB L2 cache, AMD will find it very difficult to compete with very high clock speeds with their current line of Athlon processors. Luckily for AMD, the Pentium 4 will only hit 2.2GHz this year with the Northwood core.

Now that the Pentium 4 is finally shedding its low introductory clock speeds, the Athlon vs. Pentium 4 debate is going to get a lot more interesting over the next few months.

With Northwood, Intel will also be introducing mobile Pentium 4 devices in the next year. Although AMD's Athlon 4 has brought AMD a high-performance mobile solution, they have yet to compete with Intel in the mobility facet of notebook computing. A repackaged, cooler running 0.13-micron Athlon 4 will be necessary for AMD to be taken seriously in the mobile market. It's coming, but it's not here yet.

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