Normally when youíre a company the size of Intel, secrets are very hard to keep. Motherboard manufacturers and your customers must be given the latest details on your upcoming plans, no matter how sensitive. After all, whatís the point of releasing a cutting-edge processor if an OEM such as Dell doesnít know to plan a marketing blitz for its launch, or a company like ASUS doesnít have motherboards available to house it?
As a result, Intel is forced to supply its processor roadmap to all of its partners, and when parts are available, guess who gets them first? You guessed it Ė the manufacturers. During this process, information leaks can occur, and before Intel knows it, their next generation processor has made the front page of Slashdot.
Thatís why Intelís announcement of the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition took everyone by surprise. There were no leaks or secret demonstrations to the media; first word of this processor came straight from Intel on their terms without any outside interference. We guess they wanted to congratulate AMD on its Athlon 64 launch personally.
Just what makes the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition so special? The answer is simple, its massive L3 cache! Intel takes a Pentium 4 3.2GHz processor with its 800MHz front-side bus and mates it to 2MB of Level Three cache operating at the same 3.2GHz as the processorís core. When combined with the processorís 512K L2 cache, the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition boasts over 2.5MB of onboard memory. This kind of storage isnít uncommon in servers and even some workstations, but itís unheard of in a desktop processor, as integrating 2MB of memory doesnít come cheap. In the case of the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition, transistor count triples.
Because of this, the Extreme Edition will be a limited edition part. Intel has not committed to any long term plans for this product, so for all we know this could be limited to just one processor at 3.2GHz. Personally, we think an entire line of Extreme Edition processors ranging from 2.6GHz all the way up to 3.2GHz is just what the doctor ordered, but for now Intel is taking a wait-and-see approach. If the market accepts it, future variants could become available.
Official pricing has not been announced yet, and this processor wonít be available until sometime around November. Those of you with 875P or 865PE motherboards will be glad to know that the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition is a drop-in replacement, meaning it will work in your current motherboard perfectly.