The Pentium D Processor

Intel released the Pentium D line up along with the Extreme Edition processor last month, but we are finally starting to see them for sale in the channel. Should you be looking at the low cost 820 for your next upgrade?

The Pentium D Lineup

Though we have already reviewed the first dual core Intel processor a while back in our Intel Pentium Extreme Edition 840 review, the real story may be these little puppies we are looking at today.  The Pentium D processor line is based on the same core as the Pentium Extreme Edition, the Smithfield core. 

The Smithfield core is essentially two Prescott cores stuck together on a single chip.  No other major architectural differences exist, except that the Pentium D line does not have HyperThreading on it.  Unlike the Extreme Edition 800 series which can have a total of four logical cores (two physical cores with two logical, HyperThreading cores each) the Pentium D is strictly two single threaded cores. 

The advantages of having a true dual core processor over a single core, HyperThreading processor are fairly noticeable and users should see a good sized increase in performance going from a HyperThreaded CPU to a dual core CPU in benchmarks and applications that take advantage of multiple processing threads.  We’ll see this illustrated in several of the coming benchmarks.

As for the official specifications of the Pentium D line, we have as follows:

  • Two full Prescott cores, Netburst Architecture
  • 800 MHz Front-side bus
  • 2 x 1 MB L2 Cache
  • EM64T 64-bit support
  • Execute Disable Bit

As you can see, that list pretty much matches what we have seen on the Intel 6xx series of processors for some time, with the obvious exception of the dual cores. 

Here is the current line up from Intel for the Pentium D and their corresponding prices:

  • Pentium D 820 2.8 GHz – $241
  • Pentium D 830 3.0 GHz – $316
  • Pentium D 840 3.2 GHz – $530
  • Pentium XE 840 3.2 GHz – $999

I threw in the Pentium Extreme Edition 840 price just to show you how far of a jump Intel had going from their top Pentium D to the XE: $469!  That’s nearly enough to put together a second system based on the Pentium D 820, so make sure you have more money than you need before making that jump!

The Pentium D 820 @ 2.4 GHz

The Pentium D 820 represents that minimum price you can pay to enter the dual core processor market today.  At under $250, the 820 fits into a budget to mid-range price scheme and should be within the reach of most users. 

Intel Pentium D 820 2.8 GHz Dual Core Review - Processors  1

Intel Pentium D 820 Front

Intel Pentium D 820 2.8 GHz Dual Core Review - Processors  2

Intel Pentium D 820 – Back

The processor itself looks no different than previous LGA775 processors we have seen physically, but under the hood is where all the magic happens.

Intel 945 Chipset

Though we are not going to cover it in this review directly, the introduction of the Pentium D line was also coupled with the new 945 chipset from Intel.  The chipset sports the same features as the 955X but adds an updated version of the Intel Extreme Graphics core.  In a future article we are going to be covering this chipset and looking at its integrated graphics quality and performance in comparison to some other options from NVIDIA and ATI.  For now, just know that all the Pentium 820 D benchmarks were run on the 945G reference board which should perform nearly identically to the 955X in most cases.

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