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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [06.19.04]
Manufactured by: Intel

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So much to talk about...

...So little time... I'm not hesitant to say that, of all the chipset and CPU launches Intel has had in the past 2 years or so, this one seems to be the sloppiest. Reviewers were told about the launch some time ago, but many didn't get their review units until just recently. Who can blame them though? Just wait and see what this launch is all about, and I think you'll agree that Intel deserves a little slack in this case.

This is probably Intel's biggest product launch since the early Pentium IV days. This review will cover 2 individual products announced by Intel, each with its own set of technologies and features to discuss.

  • The 925x and 915p/915g chipsets. These introduce DDR2 and PCI-E to the Intel platform, and much more.
  • Pentium 4 560 - Starting with this 3.6 GHz CPU, Intel is introducing a new naming scheme. There is also a new socket form factor being introduced today.

The CPU

Since the Chipset introduces so much, let's start with the CPU. First off, let's explain the naming scheme.

AMD learned a tough lesson with the AthlonXP, which got even tougher with the Athlon64. Having a naming scheme based on "clock speed" simply won't work. Actually it wasn't so bad when they first started. We found their names to be right in line with Intel's competing products. However, as both companies started tweaking and updating products, things got confusing.

Things got REALLY confusing, almost to the point of ridicule, when AMD launched the A64 with 1MB of cache, but later released chips which had higher clock speeds, but with only 512KB of cache, but both carried the same name due to different performance results... What a mess!

AMD started using a 'model rating' for their Opteron and FX processors, rather than a "performance rating'. Intel is doing the same thing with the Pentium 4 and Celeron.

The new model naming scheme will start with two series; 5xx for the P4's and 3xx for the Celerons. It's really very simple (for now) - please refer to this chart provided by Intel:

For the time being, the only thing that separates the different models are the clock speed. In the future, we may see a new FSB speed. When that happens, I think we might see a different last digit. For instance, if it was a 3.6 GHz Prescott on a 1200 MHz FSB, it might be a "565" instead of "560". That is just my guess though; we'll just have to wait and see what Intel does with the names.

Oh yeah, one other thing has changed with this new batch of CPU's:

No pins! I am willing to bet that you have bent a CPU pin once or twice in your life, having to try your luck with Intel's or AMD's RMA process to get a new one (if you had a retail CPU, both companies likely would have had no problem in helping you). By moving the pins to the socket itself, Intel is offloading a lot of potential RMA's and other various problems from themselves and onto the motherboard manufacturers. Happy Intel - Unhappy Abit, Asus, Gigabyte, etc...

Here is a closeup shot of the pins themselves in an LGA socket. As you can see, they are actually like 'springs'. There are rumours floating around that these springs may fail after repeated use (the number of '20 installations' has been floating around). I haven't had this setup long enough to do an endurance test obviously, but you can bet that our Intel board will get a lot of use in the near future!

With a new socket type, we get to talk about a new heatsink type!

Unlike Intel's last stock cooler, which was a NIGHTMARE to deal with, this one is as simple as it gets! Instead of using a spring loaded bracket system, the heatsink pegs directly into the board itself. It will be interesting to see what the heatsink companies dream up for this format. Also note the 4 pin CPU fan connector. I didn't find the purpose of the blue cable in any of the documentation provided, but I am guessing it has something to do with manual or automatic fan control from the chipset itself. Only the CPU fan header had 4 pins on our Intel board, and even then, it is backwards compatible with 3 pin fans.

All that time spent on the CPU.. Just wait until we get to the chipset! *cracks fingers*

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