Pentium IV 2.4 Ghz (Northwood)

A few weeks back we looked at the AMD top of the range CPU XP2100 (1.73Ghz), this month we look at Intel P4 2.4Ghz. Intel is still way ahead in the speed ratings.

When we think Intel P4™ we think RAMBUS memory which is expensive. New chipsets are out which means P4 ownership is now within the budgets of the average home user. Let me explain…. the SIS645, i845/D, VIA P4B66/E chipsets all support DDR ram.

A typical price for a stick of 256mb DDR is about £59.39 from Crucial compared to about £90-100 from elsewhere, I say elsewhere because I was shocked that Crucial/Micron do not offer Rambus memory anymore. We asked our bods inside -

BiT : 'Why don't you sell RAMBUS?'

Crucial : 'We do not currently offer Rambus upgrades because a relatively small number of our customers have expressed interest in it, and we believe that long-term demand for Rambus product will not be great enough for us to maintain the low-cost pricing our customers have come to expect.'

And there you have it!

Ok lets move on. First thing you notice is the size of the CPU - it has 478 pins, and is a lot smaller thanks to the (more efficient) Copper interconnects now being used in the manufacturing process instead of Aluminium. This 0.13u process technology enables the Pentium 4 processor to have a larger cache (512k), higher frequency, and lower power consumption (1.5v) which means less heat. The metal plate you see is a heat spreader. Below you can see our 'Confidential Sample' (inscribed on the core!) along with a P4 1.8Ghz Northwood (left)

AMD on the other hand are still using 0.18u process which is why they are only releasing CPU's about 100Mhz or so faster than their predecessors. As macroman states in his review AMD will be moving into the new 0.13u process technology soon with their 'Thoroughbreds'

The P4 runs at 100Mhz bus which is 'quad pumped' to achieve 400Mhz bus basically the same thing that AMD done with their T-Birds when switching to 200Mhz. What's this mean? Well I bet my dremel filings that a P4 on 133FSB 'quad pumped at 533FSB' will be released before you can say '2.5 gigga on your jigga'! why? Because AMD are going 0.13u soon ;)

The heat spreader is a very welcomed addition and especially when considering how easily the cores of AMD CPU's can be crushed; in any case Intel have always been known to have more robust cores (proven in my personal experience with the Vapochill.) Moving back to the heat spreader you can see a hole in the corner, this hole is present in all the 478's as seen in our picture. This is meant to relieve excess pressure when mounting a heat sink and fan combination. If you manage to kill crush your core while mounting a HSF then I'll eat your CPU! While mounting the Zen I was rather forceful and put a lot of pressure (slap my wrists) on the CPU and it wouldn't be crushed! Heat spreaders are not a new technology and like I have mentioned before about 'dies', the P3 was solid enough without having a heat spreader and the latest CPU's just get smaller and stronger! Just for your information I have killed many CPU's by crushing as a result of unorthodox methods mounting modified heat sinks and vapochill thermal acceleration units. Be careful not to fill the hole up with any contaminants and always use a non-conductive thermal paste.

The Intel retail heat sink/fan is one big beast, for comparison I have placed it next to the Japanese Zen cooler which is known for core crushing, and before you ask YES we did mount the Zen on this P4 how? Well Look out for that review very soon. Edit: The Zen has died a horrible death in my murderous hands yet the CPU survives still.