Pentium 4 vs Xeon

Posted on 2003-11-17
Last Modified: 2013-12-09
I'm wondering if somebody could lay down a simple outline of the differences between the current Pentium 4 branch and Xeon processors.  I'd don't want a link to a whitepaper, nor statements of opinion.  To better understand what information I'm trying to gather, here's my reason for asking:

I'm coming to the point of being in the market for a new desktop processor/motherboard combo.  I'm definately a power user (despite lacking much knowledge about Xeon chips), and I'm looking for the most bang for my buck.  I'm fairly well aquainted already with the current Pentium 4 & AMD chips, but I'm not very familiar with either company's server focused offerings.  The thing that made me curious is the new Pentium 4 EE.  As I'm sure you know, the price of this particular chip is going to be extremely high.  While browsing PriceWatch today, I came to the conclusion that for roughly the same price as a P4EE, you could slap together dual Xeon 2.8 chips with a mobo.  This seems very odd to me, as to why anyone would invest in a P4EE when for the same cash they could be running dual server quality chips with much more brute force and dual processing to boot.  Clearly, either there's aspects to the Xeon chip that demote from it's ability to perform in a desktop/workstation environment, or Intel is hoping to sucker lots of power users.

That said, I'm looking for a summary of how the two chips match up technically, and hopefully this will also explain why the P4EE would be worth what's being asked for it.  As an aside, I'll also accept recommendations for the best power desktop chips available, but that's not what I'm putting the points towards here.
Question by:CyberDog3K
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Expert Comment

ID: 9770007
From what I heard is that Pentium 4 is targeted at desktop users and has great chipset support...i845-i875 etc. Pentium Xeon is rather workstation/server targeted since it has SMP support and BIG amount of cache (certain xeons even have L3 cache!). However, bear in mind that Pentium 4 DOES NOT support dual processor! Pentium Xeon is ideal for people who wants to run MANY applications at a time. Performance....Xeon rules...but u must be willing to pay for its hefty price tag.
LVL 32

Expert Comment

ID: 9770105
I think it's worth the money to buy a Xeon especially if you're planning on upgrading to dual Processor later on. The Xeon has a bigger instruction set, the cache difference isn't that big anymore. It is faster cache. The PIV has 512kb cache, the Xeon also, but running at a higher clockspeed. note that Xeon motherboards are also more expensive and you'll have a hard time finding one wich also has an AGP port. I'm using this board at the moment:
You should figure out for yourself if you want to pay the price.

LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 9771334
First, when you say you're a "power user", what kind of apps are you using, and what kinds of things will you be doing?  That's what determines whether or not you get the benefits of dual processors.

Tomshardware has some benchmarks on single/dual systems that is very good info:

As far as other information goes:  The P4EE is hugely overpriced, and, is basically a Xeon Processor at 3.2GHz at the 800MHz system bus if you look at the specs of it.  
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Author Comment

ID: 9774831
To elaborate on "power user", I generally put my desktop through the full gamut of tasks.  This is no email machine, I do everything from play graphics intensive video games, to software development, to editing video/audio.  I have a habit of running many apps at once, though I suppose its true that the most processing power is usually devoted to whatever I happen to be working on at the given moment.
LVL 13

Assisted Solution

AlbertaBeef earned 25 total points
ID: 9775190
OK, and are any of your apps dual-processor enabled?  Games aren't, most software developement and video/audio (except high-end pro stuff) isn't.

If you're not running dual-cpu enabled software, no point having dual cpu's . . .

As for games -  The P4 EE is still the fastest available.  

As for workstation apps, in most cases Dual Xeons are fastest.  There's another good review here where tomshardware compares Dual Xeon 3.06's to P4 3.2's and the AthlonXP 3200+

You'll find the information good and hopefully some of the higher-end apps you might use will be benchmarked there ( he has 35 application benchmarks in the review) to give you a good idea of what would be best for you.

Accepted Solution

terageek earned 100 total points
ID: 9827638
Here is a "simple" comparison:

>Xeons are available with more cache.
>Xeons have multi-processor support.
>Since Xeons have multiple processors on a shared bus, the FSB speed is reduced.
>Xeon MP is limited to 2.8 GHz (The 400 MHz FSB is probably a bottleneck anyway)
>The P4 EE has the largest cache configuration, hyper-threading, the highest clock rate and the highest FSB speed, but does not support multi-processing.

Here are some details:

Old P4:         256 KB L2
New P4:        512 KB L2
P4 with HT:   512 KB L2
P4 EE:           512 KB L2 + 2MB L3
P4 Xeon:       512 KB or 1MB
P4 Xeon MP:  256 KB or 512 KB L2 + 512 KB or 1 MB or 2 MB L3

FSB speed:
Old P4:        400 MHz
New P4:      400 or 533
P4 with HT: 533 or 800
P4 EE:         800 MHz
P4 Xeon:     533 MHz
P4 Xeon MP: 400 MHz

Multi-processor support/hyper threading support:
Old P4:        No/no
New P4:      No/no
P4 with HT: No/yes
P4 EE:         No/yes
P4 Xeon:     Up to 2/yes
P4 Xeon MP: 4 or 8/yes

Old P4:        Up to 2.0 GHz
New P4:      2.0 - 2.8 GHz
P4 with HT: 2.4-3.2 GHz
P4 EE:         3.2 GHz
P4 Xeon:     2.0-3.2 GHz
P4 Xeon MP: 1.4-2.8 GHz
LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 9834857
CyberDog3K:  Why the 'B' grades here?  Were you looking for more information?  I notice you've given nothing but 'B' grades so far in all your questions.

Please see the grading criteria here:

How Do I Know What Grade to Give?
Although we use an A-C scale here at Experts Exchange, it works differently than, say, school grades. If one or more Experts' proposals are accepted as answers, they should usually be given an A or B grade, since they have taken the time to provide you with a working solution. If a possible solution is incomplete - ask for clarification or details before accepting the answer and grading it. People should not be given lower grades because of incorrect grammar or because you just accepted their answer or comment to close the question. Keep in mind, your question and any follow-up comments should be focused so that there can be a specific answer. The following is a good guideline to follow when grading:

A: The Expert(s) either provided you with a thorough answer or they provided you with a link to information that thoroughly answered your question. An "A" can also be given to any answer that you found informative or enlightening beyond the direct question that you asked.

B: The Expert(s) provided an acceptable solution, or a link to an acceptable solution, that you were able to use, although you may have needed a bit more information to complete the task.

C: Because Experts' reliability are often judged by their grading records, many Experts would like the opportunity to clarify if you have questions about their solutions. If you have given the Expert(s) ample time to respond to your clarification posts and you have responded to each of their posts providing requested information; or if the answers, after clarification, lack finality or do not completely address the issue presented, then a "C" grade is an option. You also have the option here of just asking Community Support to delete the question.

Remember, the Expert helping you today is probably going to be helping you next time you post a question. Give them a fair chance to earn an 'Excellent!' grade and they'll provide you with some amazing support.

Author Comment

ID: 9834895
I've given B's so far in my requests, because the responses have been B answers.  Yes, the answers have *contributed* to solutions, but none of the couple solutions I've been given on here provided an ultimate solution.  What's happened is I gather the information I'm given, and it points me in the right direction.  I'm usually capable enough of finding my own answers once somebody gives me a good start.  If an answer were to be exactly what I'd needed I wouldn't hesitate to give an A.  I'm not trying to demote from anyone by giving a B.  According to the EE interface, even a C is an acceptable answer...there are no "bad" accepted answers.  I just dont think this should be like the EBay rating system, where everybody gets an A++++++ if they do so much as deliver the product that was requested.  If people are insulted by a B, I suggest EE change the interface to point out that only A's are acceptable for working answers...
LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 9834922
OK, that's fair, but you didn't say you wanted any more information before grading, so we weren't aware you still wanted something more.  There was some good information presented here, and you did, in fact, as for a "simple outline".

If you are wanting more information, the experts need more comments and questions of you in order to provide such.  I'm just asking that you give them the chance to provide more when you're looking for more, ok?  Let them know you want more, and you will most likely receive it.  If after letting them know you need or want more info, and it doesn't get provided, then a 'B' is certainly appropriate.


EE Page Editor, Microchips/Desktops TA's.


Expert Comment

ID: 12287034
What about motherboard upgrades?  If I have a 1.8 gigahertz chip now, and I want to upgrade to the 2.8 chip, can I use my existing motherboard?

Author Comment

ID: 12288657
I suggest opening a new question and offering some points...  Nobody will want to respond to a dead topic.

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