Intel i925XE Chipset / 3.46GHz Pentium 4

..:: Introduction ::..

In the past few months, things have certainly changed direction in the Intel processor design houses. The latest change comes with Intel dropping the 4.0GHz version of the Pentium 4 in order to concentrate on Smithfield, their upcoming dual core processor for the desktop that is set to debut sometime in the mid to latter half of 2005. Certainly, it seems someone at Intel has seen the light and decided against advancing a processor design that has an achilles heel, it’s thermal characteristics.  

With the initial launch of the LGA 775 platforms and processors, there was a real lull in how fast the enthusiast crowd picked them up. At time of launch, there were few solid PCI-Express options, and those that were available were quite costly. There was a substantial amount of DDR-II that soon became available, and the prices seen were quite nice, though that wasn’t expected to last and it’s already making a rebound. Another problem was lack of any third arty cooling solutions. Basically, either you found an LGA 775 capable water block, or you were stuck with Intel’s standard cooler, which isn’t exactly a slouch, or something worse. As time has progressed, and more platforms and capable components have reached the market, the LGA 775 platforms have begun to garner more interest among upgrading Intel enthusiasts.

Another problem many had with the actually i925X and i915P/G platforms were their expensive premium. As we saw when these two platforms were launched, there’s only a minute difference in overall performance between the two. It certainly wasn’t enough to justify the extra costs for upgrading. As cheaper and better boards have hit the market, this too has helped business pick up for i925X and 915P/G motherboards. So, although things were slow at first as I expected, they’re beginning to pick up, and should really start to pick up when PCI-E graphics solutions become more the norm for upgrades over the several months to a year as AMD chipsets debut featuring support for PCI-E.

Today, we see the launch of Intel’s latest incarnation of i925X, the i925XE chipset. Now, as much as anyone would like to tell you, whether it be through marketing or salesmanship, i925XE is nothing more than a glorified i925X with added support for 1066MHz FSB Pentium 4’s, the first of which is also being launched today and you’ll see in action soon. The initial i925X chipset had a built in overclocking lock by our friends at Intel that made 1066MHz a nearly impossible feat even with motherboard manufacturers finding ways to circumvent the problem. Obviously, both these boards and processors will carry a heavy premium, but the real question is, as always, is it worth the extra cash? Well, before we try to answer this question for our adoring public, I’ll be re-hashing the info on the i925X and now i925XE chipsets, as well as covering the thermal specs for the 3.46GHz Extreme Edition CPU. If you already know all of these details, skip ahead to the benchmarks to find what you’re looking for.



..:: 3.46GHz EE – Thermal Design Power ::..

As we’ve seen time and time again over these past few processor releases from Intel, that three letter acronym that everyone in the computing industry dislikes, TDP, has been growing and growing. The newer “Prescott” cores have been the real culprits putting off tremendous amounts of heat. The older Northwood core Extreme Edition CPU’s have been much better, in our experiences, with keeping cool, but their time will soon come. This new 3.46GHz Extreme Edition CPU carries a TDP of 110.7W, a slight increase over the 3.40GHz EE. The Icc max for the 3.46GHz model is a cool 84.8A. To put these numbers in comparison to similar models, the 3.40EE boasts a TDP of 109.6W, while the 3.40E (550) and 3.60E (560) sport a TDP of 115.0W. The max current draw for the 3.40E and 3.60E processors is a massive 119 Amps, up 41 Amps from the 3.20 and below speed grades.


..:: Processor Physical Overview ::..

The processor itself is identical to the other LGA 775 processors we’ve seen to date, slightly larger than the Socket 478 Pentium 4’s featuring a slightly modified heatspreader. The heatspreader on the Socket 478 implementation goes to roughly 1mm from the edge of the package, and then drops down to the surface. On the LGA Pentium 4’s, the heatspreader goes out a similar distance, although the outer edge is lowered down to allow for the outer casing that holds the processor in place once it is mounted. On the bottom of the package, we find all 775 of the gold contacts, along with the various resistors, and capacitors that are surface mounted underneath the processor die. This package looks quite similar to the 478 solution, only larger and pin-less.