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.
Company: Intel Corporation Product: P4 1.8GHz CPU Northwood Price: Variable, around 215$ Availability: Now Written by: Mack (SPeeD) Reviewed: February, 2002
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.
256Meg Kingmax PC2400 DDR
AVC Sunflower HSF
Windows XP Professional
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.
SiSoft Memory 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.
note: SiSoft has recently updated the way they benchmark memory bandwidth, so be sure to download the latest version in order to stay current and compare your system equally to other systems. Get your update HERE. We used current version 2002.1.8.59 for reference.
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