Just days after AMD launched their fastest Athlon XP 2600+ processor, Intel gave yet another speed bump to their line of Pentium 4 processors. Now clocked at 2.8GHz, the Pentium 4 is on its way to hit 3GHz by the end of this year. Seems like Intel is set to keep the competition tough for AMD and there's no doubt that if you have all the money to spend on a processor right now, the 2.8GHz could be your next upgrade - be it for multimedia or gaming purposes. Why are we so quick to conclude at this point? Well, if you've read our previous review on the AMD Athlon XP 2600+, you'll notice that the Pentium 4 2.53GHz with PC800 RDRAM was more or less unaffected by the Athlon XP 2600+.
The new Pentium 4 2.8GHz processor is still based on the familiar 0.13µm manufacturing process that Intel has mastered since the beginning of this year. At 0.13µm, the die is basically smaller and power consumption is lower since transistors do not need higher voltages to operate. The transistor gate length is shorter and if you look at it from the atomic point of view, electrons now take a shorter path to travel from the Source
to the Drain
AMD Athlon XP 2200+
||AMD Athlon XP 2600+
||Intel Pentium 4 2.53GHz
||Intel Pentium 4 2.80GHz
|Front Side Bus
|Thermal Design Power
From the technical specifications above, you can gather that the Pentium 4 at 2.8GHz is no more than just a typical speed bump. Multiplier is now set at 21x and the front side bus is still running at 533MHz. This means that any new motherboards based on the i850E, i845E and i845G chipsets should work with the 2.8GHz processor. Processor compatibility is a big deal for users so it is important that older boards work with new processors as we know that users prefer to upgrade in stages. However, recent rumors surrounding incompatibility with future 3GHz+ processors might be a big setback to Intel upgraders.
By now, I'm pretty sure everyone's familiar with the Pentium 4 architecture. So we'll just skip the architecture stuff and get right on with the results.