Benchmarking the Pentium 4-3.06 GHz is a very difficult proposition, as its main benefits are easily apparent using standard performance tests. Unless a program supports multithreading, then any performance benefits are extremely hard to quantify. The benchmarks that do support multiple threads showed some serious gains, while standard single-threaded tests were on-par with a 3.06 GHz CPU. The more ethereal advantages are when actually using a HT-enabled system, and multi-tasking with resource-hungry applications. While the numerical results are not consistent enough to publish, we found speed jumps of 5-15% when performing duties like simultaneous MPEG and MP3 encoding.
We also wanted to examine if leaving HT enabled had any performance penalty with certain games or applications. This amounts to a concern that competition for CPU resources could actually lower the performance when compared to a standard 3.06 GHz Pentium 4 with HT disabled. We tested all of our benchmark applications in both modes, and while the majority of the performance increases were nominal, all of the benchmarks performed better with HT enabled. This is big news, as the design obviously allows full CPU partitioning, and gives users 3.06 GHz of power for a demanding games, dual-threading for supported application, yet still allows multi-threading and multi-tasking advantages in standard business use.
The newest Pentium 4 processors are notorious for their high ticket prices, and the Pentium 4-3.06 GHz is certainly not going to change that trend. Current street prices are in the range of $675-$700, which compares to approximately $400 for a Pentium 4-2.8 GHz, $300 for a Pentium 4-2.66 GHz and $375 for an Athlon XP 2700+. This is certainly not in the price range of most buyers, but watch out for future HT-enabled Intel processors, as this will help drive prices down to the mainstream.
We admit having our doubts concerning Intel's new Hyper-Threading Technology, especially with the potential for older applications to suffer when presented with an HT-enabled processor. This is definitely not the case, and the resource partitioning of the Pentium 4-3.06 GHz is by far its most pleasant surprise. This processor offers 3.06 GHz power for hot games like UT 2003, while also increasing multithreaded performance and providing a smoother multitasking desktop. Now that Intel has built the single-chip SMT hardware, let's hope the developers follow up with increased software support.