Pentium 4, 1.8 GHz
Introduction: We've all seen the recent introduction of Intel's Northwood based P4 processors. With 512k of of L2-Cache and a system bus of 400MHz, everyone has high hopes for the Northwood's performance. The older P4's, socket 423 and 478 Willamette's, performance was somewhat disappointing. With lower clocked AMD Athlon XP's pretty much dominating them at every corner, Intel had to make a move to regain their foothold in the performance sector. Is the Northwood CPU the answer? So far it may or may not be, but it's a start and the Northwood makes quite a few improvements on the aging P4 design. With an extra 256k of L2-Cache, and .13 micron technology that will give the CPU much more headroom that will let it run cooler and faster. Right now, it looks as if Intel plans on taking this CPU to at least 3GHz and beyond. Lately, it's not surprising at all to see folks running 1.6, 1.8, 2.0 and 2.2GHz P4 Northwood's at 2.5GHz and higher. Quite an accomplishment at this point.
Still, the performance crown somewhat eludes Intel, since AMD XP processors are certainly holding their own. And with the .13 micron AMD Thoroughbreds due out shortly, there is no telling what the future holds for Intel. Currently, Intel easily owns the market in raw Processor SPeeD, yet the AMD XP Chips arguably outperform even Intel's fastest processor.
While I believe the Northwood is certainly a worthy CPU, what we basically want to do here today is show you performance of this chip in a few "well known" benchmarks at stock speed, as well as the overclockability of the chip. Before we get to the "GooSH", lets take a quick look at Intel's official DDR Chipset diagram.
Here you see the i845 has official support for both DDR 200 and DDR 266. Much better than the initial introduction of the 845 with PC133 support, which was never meant for the desktop performance market, rather the server market that needs stability, horsepower and functionality, over raw bursting speed. It was also a good first "dip in the water" to see how future performance of the P4 would eventually be on the much faster DDR platform. Lets not forget the P4 was initially built from the ground up for optimized use with Rambus' RDRAM.
However, marketing hype and strong-arm tactics alone could not convince the general public that RDRAM was the best avenue to follow. With better overall performance and more affordable prices, people began purchasing and building systems based on AMD's Tbird CPU coupled with DDR memory. This combination proved to be quite formidable in the performance arena. Then with the introduction of the AMD XP processor, performance only increased.
Although Intel is late to the game, finally adopting DDR memory, they are certainly coming on strong. Finally, lets take a look at this processor in CPUID at it's stock SPeeD.
Notice the Platform, Socket 478, which Intel plans on taking up to very high speeds. Finally making their choice and ditching the Socket 423 platform. Additionally, you'll notice the Internal clock at slightly over 1800MHz, simply due to motherboard variations. Next, the 400MHz+ System bus which delivers a high bandwidth connection between the P4 CPU and chipset. 3 times the bandwidth over P3 CPU's. Even much faster than AMD's current official 266MHz System bus. What's cool about this, is the memory is only running at 100MHz system clock, while having the QDR (Quad Data Rate) gives the 400MHz system bus.
Performance: Ok, lets start off with some SiSoft information. Just about everyone is familiar with SiSoft, and it will tell you just about everything you could ever want to know about your system. To include comparison benchmarks as well. A very handy program for determining performance gains when overclocking and tweaking. Simply a "must-have" for the performance minded PC enthusiast.
Here, SiSoft highlights the CPU and BIOS information. Notice the SPeeD rating is 1.81GHz, while the Performance Rating is 1.989GHz. SiSoft pretty much says the performance of this processor is equal to that of a processor running at 1989MHz. It also recognizes it as a Northwood with 512kb of ECC L2-Cache. GooSH!!
Benchmarks: Next, lets take a look at SiSoft CPU Arithmetic Performance.
As you can see, the Northwood at a stock SPeeD of 1.8GHz is much lower rated than the P4 2GHz part, as well as even the AMD XP 1800+. Although FPU for the 1.8 P4 is just slightly ahead of the XP 1800+.
The CPU Multi-Media Benchmarks shows the 1.8GHz lagging just slightly behind the 2GHz part as it should. But neither Intel chip can hang with the Multi-Media horsepower of the Athlon XP. Sad but true.
Bandwidth Benchmarks are certainly favorable towards the refined Intel 845DDR
chipset. Processor SPeeD is of no concern here and the only thing running above
Intel's 845, with DDR, is the infamous Intel 850 Chipset with PC800 RDRAM.
At this point, the P4 1.8GHz Northwood is leaving us a little bit disappointed in the performance arena. What's that you say? Overclock this bad mofo? That's a damn good idea! Lets rock!
Overclocking: Unfortunately, the highest I could possibly get this chip to is 2.169GHz stable. Respectable, but not as high as we had hoped for, since we have seen mad overclocking of this chip, upwards of 2.5GHz with only air cooling. This low overclock is certainly not for lack of good hardware. We are running the Abit BD7 RAID with Kingmax PC2400 which has been run at over 160FSB in our previous AMD setup. Even with the NIC and Soundcards pulled out, we could not get above 120MHz system clock. Again, still getting almost an additional 400MHz out of this chip is quite a bit, just not as high as we had anticipated. Lets take a look at Overclocked Benchmarks.
I thumbnailed these so you can pull them up separately and compare them to the previous benchmarks at stock SPeeD. To summarize, CPU scores are way ahead of the 2GHz Northwood and compare very favorably towards the AMD XP 1800+ CPU. Multi-Media performance improved quite a bit, and surpasses all other CPU's on the chart. Memory Bandwidth also improved immensely and is only ever so slightly behind RDRAM performance and is quite a bit faster than 845 PC2100, KT266A PC2100 and nForce PC2100. Oh, and I also included a thumbnail of the "official" Intel CPU ID for Intel processors only. Hehe, I love how it says "The Intel processor and system bus appear to be running above their frequency specifications, a condition commonly known as "overclocked". LMAO! You bet your ass it's overclocked, Intel!
Conclusion: We've heard quite a few comparisons between the new P4 Northwood (mostly the 1.6GHz chip) and the old Celeron 300a of days past. This may or may not be a fair comparison. The first system I built was with a Celeron 300a and that was one ROCK solid chip. It would do 450MHz at stock voltage without so much as a hiccup. And 465Mhz with just a slight voltage increase. What was so incredible about this chip, is that it not only had a very good chance at clocking much higher than any other CPU available. It also hung in there with PII 400 and 450MHz chips. Considering the price difference, and Intel's intention of running a paltry 66MHz FSB, this was simply amazing.
This particular chip has missed the boat and I would not classify it as the "next 300a". But on the same token, it's performance is admirable. And overclocking 17% above spec to a mere 2.169Ghz will increase performance by quite a large margin.
Then again, if you end up with a 1.6GHz Northwood and make it to 2.1GHz or higher, you'll have something special on your hands. At the moment, the 1.8GHz Northwood will cost you around 215$, yet an Athlon XP 1800+ runs around 140$. Quite a big difference in price, yet both chips will give you nearly equal performance all around. Bottom line is, I would have to recommend the XP processor if your looking at bang for your buck. Yet, other things to consider are incompatibilities with VIA chipsets and the constant updating of driver sets to work around these problems. Or the overpriced underpowered nForce motherboards, that may enjoy more potential in the future with updated drivers and tweaked hardware. Currently it remains a little too expensive for most peoples tastes and simply did not provide the "VIA killer" performance that some folks predicted it would.
Homebrew pics of this chip.
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