CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

HolidayBuyer's Guide
Tech Industry

Dell, Gateway adopt Intel's extreme chip

Several manufacturers are introducing desktops that contain Intel's Extreme Edition Pentium 4 for the gaming market on Monday, the latest salvo in the war for supremacy in desktop performance.

Gateway, Dell and a host of smaller manufacturers are introducing desktops that contain Intel's Extreme Edition Pentium 4 for the gaming market on Monday, the latest salvo in the war for supremacy in desktop performance.

These new PCs are aimed largely at the enthusiast and gamer market. Typically, these buyers want the fastest and best technology on the market, regardless of price. Gateway?s new 700GX Gaming PC, for instance, costs $3,299 and features a 160GB hard drive, a 3.2GHz Extreme Pentium 4 and 512MB of memory.

Although the market is small in terms of units, the profit margins on gamer PCs can be large. Word-of-mouth recommendations from enthusiasts can also have a substantial effect on the broader consumer market. Some companies, such as Memorex, sell "mod" kits--crazy colored fans and diodes--for customizing the look.

The Extreme Edition Pentium 4, which Intel added to its product plans during the summer, runs at 3.2GHz, as fast as an existing version of the Pentium 4, but it contains 2MB of cache, four times as much the existing version of the Pentium 4. With large caches, a substantial amount of data can reside on the processor itself, which reduces access time and improves performance. The chip also features hyperthreading, which lets the processor execute two separate applications at once.

Invite Michael Kanellos into your in-box
Senior department editor Michael Kanellos scrutinizes the hardware industry in a weekly column that ranges from chips to servers and other critical business systems. Enterprise Hardware every Wednesday.




The chip, though, isn't exactly an original bit of engineering. It's virtually identical to a Xeon chip for servers that Intel has been selling for months. The company repackaged the Xeon for desktops, according to analysts, to better compete against the Athlon FX-51 that Advanced Micro Devices released in September.

Similarly, the Athlon FX-51, currently available in PCs from Alienware, is itself a repackaged Opteron server chip.

In terms of performance, the Athlon FX-51 has outscored Intel's best on many benchmark tests. (The Athlon FX-51 can run 32- and 64-bit software, but the main performance benefits now come from the integrated memory controller and HyperTransport links.) The Extreme Edition, therefore, should help Intel narrow the performance gap until the delayed Prescott chip arrives.

While it looks like an interim product, more Extreme Edition chips will likely come out even after the arrival of Prescott, some executives at Intel have said. In general, adding cache is a fairly inexpensive and rapid way to boost performance

Other manufacturers selling Extreme Edition Pentium 4 computers include Alienware, Hypersonic, Velocity Micro, Voodoo PC, Falcon Northwest and Vicious PC. Some also sell Athlon FX boxes.

The Pentium 4 Extreme Edition sells for $925 in quantities of 1,000 or more.

Both AMD and Intel cut prices on a number of chips earlier this month.