Prescott Pentium 4 chips prepare for launch

Intel is to introduce eight new Pentium 4 processors using a new packaging technique, including its first workstation processors...

Intel  is to introduce eight new Pentium 4 processors using a new packaging technique, including its first workstation processors with 64-bit extensions technology.

The forthcoming chips, which will be released in the coming months, were revealed within a product change notification (PCN) document posted to Intel's website that contained details about power management and security enhancements planned for the Pentium 4.

Intel regularly distributes PCNs to hardware developers and customers to inform them of upcoming changes to existing products or plans to discontinue older products.

Five of the eight new chips will launch alongside the Grantsdale and Alderwood chipsets on 21 June 21. Grantsdale and Alderwood will come with support for the PCI Express interconnect technology and DDR2 (double data rate) memory.

Those five Pentium 4 chips will be introduced at clock speeds ranging from 2.8GHz to 3.6GHz. They will be labelled with Intel's new processor numbering system, starting with a 520 label for the 2.8GHz chip and scaling up to a 560 label for the 3.6GHz chip.

Later in the third quarter, Intel will introduce the first Pentium 4-brand processors with 64-bit extensions to the x86 instruction set. This technology allows both 32-bit and 64-bit applications to run simultaneously on a system with a 64-bit operating system.

Three Pentium 4 processors with the extensions technology will debut at clock speeds of 3.6GHz, 3.4GHz, and 3.2GHz. At launch, Intel will market these chips only for single-processor servers and workstations, not for desktop PCs.

Even before the launch of the three chips, Intel is expected to introduce its 64-bit extensions technology on its Xeon DP processor for dual-processor servers.

All of the eight new Pentium 4 processors and the two new chipsets will use a different pin packaging technique known as LGA775, or the Land Grid Array packaging technique with 775 pins on each processor.

The pins on a processor connect the chip to the rest of the motherboard. Intel's existingt Pentium 4 processors use 478 pins. An increase in the number of pins allows Intel to improve the quality of the electrical signals within the chip and get more power into the Prescott core.

Intel shipped the early versions of the Prescott Pentium 4 processors with the extensions technology disabled, executives have said. To enable the extensions technology as well as future enhancements such as a faster front-side bus and higher clock frequencies, Intel needed to implement the new packaging technique, said Kevin Krewell, editor in chief of the Microprocessor Report, in San Jose, California.

The PCN also confirmed Intel's intentions to incorporate power management and security features into forthcoming Pentium 4 processors as part of a new stepping - an enhancement to an existing product that chip companies use to make changes without having to test and qualify a new piece of silicon.

Most companies release several steppings to original core designs to correct minor flaws or enhance certain features.

Prescott is Intel's first 90-nanometer processor, and its power consumption has raised eyebrows among analysts and PC industry observers. The first Prescott chips launched in February consume between 90 and 115 watts of power, more than the previous generation of its Pentium 4 chips.

Intel will introduce new power management features to ensure the chips will work at clock speeds faster than the 3.4GHz already available.

Tom Krazit writes for IDG News Service

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