Prescott Prospects . . .

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Intel apparently feels confident enough in Prescott to at least get it out the door in early February.

However, some of the details of the coming-out party have to make you wonder whether it should have stayed in the closet instead.

Intel is doing some not-very-confident-at-all things at the 3.4GHz level.

They will introduce a 3.4GHz Prescott. However, they will also introduce two Northwoods at that speed, a regular and a EE.

This could be because Intel can’t make very many 3.4GHz Prescotts. Another possible reason is that many Springdale/Canterwood mobos can handle the power and heat requirements of a 3.4GHz Northwood, but not a 3.4GHz Prescott.

Odds are, the real reason will be mostly the first, but the Intel spin doctors will publicly say it’s the second.

There are also murmurs that higher speed Prescotts will only be made available in socket T.

None of this bodes well for overclockers.

On the other hand, unlike any other processor introduction in Intel’s recent past, Prescott will be cheap and easy right away. A 2.8GHz will cost about $175 in late February.

What Do You Expect Them To Do?

I initially expected about 4GHz with high-end air and moderate (i.e 10-15%) voltage increases. I rather suspect this estimate to be overly optimistic.

So what should you do? That depends on what position you’re in.

You Want Intel, and You’re Not Hurting Be wary, especially if you’re using air-cooling. Initial overclocking results from the earliest adopters tend to be somewhat higher than what the average overclocker manages shortly thereafter, simply because early adopters tend to have more advanced cooling systems and/or expertise.

At least initially, s-spec checking will be important. It’s possible that lower-speed Prescotts may represent earlier Intel steppings that just weren’t quite good enough (that’s probably the case with Prescott Celerons). Even if that isn’t the case, speed binning will be more likely than usual.

You Want AMD, But You’re Growing Impatient Grow some more and let Prescott (and its pricing) have its effect on AMD. AMD is just not going to be able to keep the lowest price on a desktop Hammer at around $400. The most likely somewhat reasonably priced (i.e., a platform costing about the same as a 2.8GHz Prescott platform, say roughly $450) ought to come with Newcastle and a socket 939 board).

We still think waiting for 90nm is a good idea, but a reasonably priced 90nm platform might not come until the end of 2004, and many will go stir-crazy long before then.

If you’re inclined to defect to Intel, this won’t be the time to do so. See what happens with 90nm, and if you’re still disappointed, look at a socket T system and Tejas.

I want Intel, and I’m Hurting If you only replace your computer system every three years or so, you should wait until socket T systems become available. Since you’re going to have to replace almost everything anyway, you might as well not buy a system that will be almost instantly antiquated. Socket 478 only has six months of cutting-edge life left.

Admittedly, prices on items like PCI Express video cards and DDR2 RAM will be inflated on introduction.

If you’re REALLY hurting, look at a Prescott-compatible mobo, pick up a 2.4 or 2.6C, and hope Prescott doesn’t turn out to be as bad as it looks right now.

Ed

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