IntroductionIntel Pentium Extreme Edition 840 and 955X Express Chipset
If a single word sums up Intel's thoughts on CPU design in 2005 it would have to be parallelism. The incumbent Pentium 4 Prescott, for a variety of reasons, hasn't scaled to the kind of clockspeed Intel was predicting just last year. Indeed, the Pentium 4 570J, clocked in at 3.8GHz, will remain the fastest MHz CPU for some time. Intel's solution to increasing performance without having to break the 4GHz barrier has been to architect dual- and multi-core processors, starting off with desktop Pentium D (Models 820,830 and 840) and XE 840 CPUs.
Dual-core processing is literally what it sounds like. Two independent execution cores on a single piece of silicon and, consequently, in one processor package. Sounds like an intriguing proposition, doesn't it? Intel thinks so, and has invested heavily in research and development for an entire family of soon-to-be-released dual- and multi-core CPUs. Today's (p)review focuses in on the first dual-core processor Intel has architected for the desktop environment. The Pentium Extreme Edition 840 HT-enabled CPU runs at a nominal 3.2GHz but, as you will have guessed, has 2 execution cores in a single LGA775 package. A CPU architectural overhaul has also given rise to new supporting chipsets, the 945/955X Express, respectively. Read on to find out how this combination stacks up against the established hierarchy.