Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Intel will release all-new Core 2 Duo processor



Two weeks from now, Intel will release its all-new Core 2 Duo processor. The technical details were made available to the public in March 2006, and first benchmarks made clear that Intel is not joking: Core 2 Duo shall become the undisputed leader in performance and performance per Watt. It's time to separate facts from rumors.

Intel does not talk about changes to the processor architecture; it talks about a complete redesign. The engineers took elements from the current Pentium D NetBurst architecture and added ingredients that made the Pentium M and Core Duo mobile processors successful, and voilá: The Core2 micro-architecture was born. Key design goals were an ideal relation between processing performance and power consumption, which was a direct result of AMD's processors delivering better performance per Watt of energy, and the public complaining about unreasonably high power consumption and cooling requirements for Intel platforms.
For industry experts, Core 2 Duo beating the Athlon 64 processor family is no surprise: On the one hand, Core 2 Duo is a brand-new state-of-the-art processor, whereas the Athlon 64 X2 has been around for a while. On the other hand, Intel must come out with a superior product to finally beat AMD after two years of Athlon 64 headwinds.

So fasten your seatbelts, because Core 2 Duo is the new high-flyer. We will go through all technical aspects that have not been discussed on the web. So don't expect lots of architecture details (these can be found in our Spring IDF article), but hands-on testing and analysis. We will also have a look at the impact Core 2 Duo might have on AMD.

Core 2 Model Clock Speed Multiplier Front Side Bus Speed L2 Cache Extreme X6800 2,933 MHz x11 266 MHz (FSB1066 QDR) 4 MB Duo E6700 2,666 MHz X10 266 MHz (FSB1066 QDR) 4 MB Duo E6600 2,400 MHz X9 266 MHz (FSB1066 QDR) 4 MB Duo E6400 2,133 MHz X8 266 MHz (FSB1066 QDR) 2 MB Duo E6300 1,866 MHz X7 266 MHz (FSB1066 QDR) 2 MB

All Core 2 processors run at a Front Side Bus (FSB) speed of 266 MHz now, whereas most Pentium 4 and Pentium D models typically run at 200 MHz. At four data transfers per cycle (quad data rate mode) this results in a marketing-friendly FSB1066 bus speed, delivering a 8.5 GB/s bandwidth. Except for the entry level, all models have a 4 MB L2 cache that is used by both processing cores. All processors support Intel's 64 bit instruction set (EM64T), the streaming extensions (SSE2 and SSE3), the virtualization technology (VT) and the Execute Disable bit (XD). In addition to these functional features, all models support the latest thermal and energy management features such as the Thermal Monitor 2 (TM2), the Enhanced Halt State (C1E) and Enhanced SpeedStep (EIST).

In contrast to all 90 and 65 nm Pentium 4 and Pentium D processors the Core 2 Duo processor family requires considerably less energy. All Core 2 Duo processors are rated at 65 W maximum power draw, whereas the Pentium D family is either 95 W or 130 W. Although these are the maximum power consumption figures, our tests show that the average power consumption is also cut into half, and the minimum power draw at low load and with energy-saving mechanisms enabled looks even better.

Read more at Intel's site: http://www.intel.com/products/processor/core2/index.htm

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