RealTime IT News

Intel Boosts 'Extreme' for Gamers

Intel took the wraps off a new Pentium processor and related chipset to satisfy the appetite of hardcore, high-budget gamers and multimedia enthusiasts.

The company's new Pentium 4 Extreme Edition processor ($999 in bulk) and 925XE Express desktop chipset debuting today feature a faster 1066MHz front-side bus compared to the 800MHz bus of the 925X Express chipset introduced in June.

The new Pentium 4 Extreme Edition chip runs at speeds of 3.46GHz and pairs 512K of Level 2 with 2MB of Level 3 cache, as well as Intel's Hyper-Threading (HT) technology.

The new Pentium package is the fastest on record, but stops shy of the 4GHz version, which Intel promised to debut next year and later abandoned that plan. The company said it will instead devote the next 12 months to transforming all of its desktop and servers products to dual-core processors, including an enhanced version of its 90-nanometer Pentium Extreme Edition "Prescott" chip due out sometime next year.

Some gaming enthusiasts have given the chip and chipset lukewarm reviews, suggesting that incremental speed bumps are not worth the upgrade. Others note that, unlike the majority of new Pentiums, the latest Extreme Edition chips are still based on the "Gallatin" core with "Northwood" designs and are produced on the 0.13-micron-process.

"The benchmark results are, to put it mildly, a tad underwhelming," Sharkey Extreme editor Vince Freeman said in his review. "Certainly the 1066 GHz bus speed upgrade paid off in certain areas, but this was not the slam dunk that previous 533 MHz and 800 MHz FSB increases were." (Sharkey Extreme and internetnews.com share the same parent company.)

Intel counters by suggesting the extra throughput in the new chip enables faster frame rates for both gaming and video editing. The 925XE also implements improved memory timings, while supporting the same DDR-2/400 and DDR-2/533 memory, PCI Express and High Definition Audio technologies as its original 3.4GHz predecessor.

Since the shift away from comparing processors completely on speed alone, the company has been differentiating itself by augmenting its core CPUs with a family of Intel technologies it refers to as its "T family."

The technologies, which include Intel's Hyper-Threading and 64-bit extensions (EM64T), will also be joined in 2006 by Intel's LaGrande Technology (Security, LT) and Vanderpool and Silvervale Technology (Virtualization, VT/ST) to coordinate with Microsoft's next-generation Windows operating system, dubbed Longhorn.

Bill Siu, Intel vice president and general manager of the Desktop Platforms Group, said the specific processor and chipset combination are another example of how Intel is shifting from a generic approach toward one that brings chipsets, processors and other components together for specific customers.

"PC enthusiasts are enjoying more rich media and gaming content than ever, as the PC becomes central to the digital home," Siu said.

The company said it is also offering D925XECV2 and D925XEBC2 ATX and micro-ATX form factor desktop motherboards for computer makers and system integrators.

Editor's note: Jupitermedia editor Eric Grevstad contributed to this report.