This morning Intel unveiled the new Pentium 4 Extreme Edition running at 3.46GHz, and although the chip only runs 66MHz faster than its predecessor, coupled with the also new 925XE chipset, the processor gets a pumped front side bus to achieve an impressive 1066MHz, that is, 533MHz dual-channel DDR2 memory.

Intel hopes that this new combination pulls the trick in order to compete with fast and furious Athlon FX offerings, but does it really make a good job at it? After all, the Extreme Edition processor alone will set you back at $999. As for reference sake, this new release is not based on newer Prescott technology but shares much of the same used in Xeon processors, the code-named 'Gallatin' core which carries a generous 2MB of L3 cache.

Unfortunately for Intel, despite of the fact we are already used to small marginal gains with new CPU releases, the 3.46GHz EE processor disappoints in more than a way. For once, it merely performs faster than the 800MHz FSB powered 3.4GHz P4 EE, even worse, the much cheaper Pentium 4 560 (3.6GHz) puts it to shame in several benchmarks and finally, competition's Athlon FX 55 remains at the top as the fastest x86 processor money can buy.

Consider this a technology release then. Don't believe the faster 1066MHz FSB won't bring much to the table because it will, eventually. We will just have to wait until Prescotts or even dual-core CPUs make it to the market when increased bandwidth will come handy.

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