The architecture is called Core, processor family is Core 2, the product names are Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme. In the past we've talked about its architecture and even previewed its performance, but today is the real deal. We've all been waiting for this day, the day Intel lifts the last remaining curtain on the chip that is designed to re-take the performance crown from AMD, to return Intel to its days of glory.

It sure looks innocent enough:


Core 2 Duo (left) vs. Pentium D (right)

What you see above appears to be no different than a Pentium D. Honestly, unless you flip it over there's no indication of what lies beneath that dull aluminum heat spreader.


Core 2 Duo (left) vs. Pentium D (right)

But make no mistake, what you see before you is not the power hungry, poor performing, non-competitive garbage (sorry guys, it's the truth) that Intel has been shoving down our throats for the greater part of the past 5 years. No, you're instead looking at the most impressive piece of silicon the world has ever seen - and the fastest desktop processor we've ever tested. What you're looking at is Conroe and today is its birthday.

Intel's Core 2 launch lineup is fairly well rounded as you can see from the table below:

CPU Clock Speed L2 Cache
Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 2.93GHz 4MB
Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 2.66GHz 4MB
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 2.40GHz 4MB
Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 2.13GHz 2MB
Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 1.86GHz 2MB

As the name implies, all Core 2 Duo CPUs are dual core as is the Core 2 Extreme. Hyper Threading is not supported on any Core 2 CPU currently on Intel's roadmaps, although a similar feature may eventually make its debut in later CPUs. All of the CPUs launching today also support Intel's Virtualization Technology (VT), run on a 1066MHz FSB and are built using 65nm transistors.

The table above features all of the Core 2 processors Intel will be releasing this year. In early next year Intel will also introduce the E4200, which will be a 1.60GHz part with only a 800MHz FSB, a 2MB cache and no VT support. The E4200 will remain a dual core part, as single core Core 2 processors won't debut until late next year. On the opposite end of the spectrum Intel will also introduce Kentsfield in Q1 next year, which will be a Core 2 Extreme branded quad core CPU from Intel.

Core 2 Extreme vs. Core 2 Duo

Previously Intel had differentiated its "Extreme" line of processors by giving them larger caches, a faster FSB, Hyper Threading support, and/or higher clock speeds. With the Core 2 processor family, the Extreme version gets a higher clock speed (2.93GHz vs. 2.66GHz) and this time around it also gets an unlocked multiplier. Intel officially describes this feature as the following:

Core 2 Extreme is not truly "unlocked". Officially (per the BIOS Writers Guide), it is "a frequency limited processor with additional support for ratio overrides higher than the maximum Intel-tested bus-to-core ratio." Currently, that max tested ratio is 11:1 (aka 2.93G @ 1066 FSB). The min ratio is 6:1. However, do note that the Core 2 Extreme will boot at 2.93G unlike prior generation XE processors which booted to the lowest possible ratio and had to be "cranked up" to the performance ratio.

In other words, you can adjust the clock multiplier higher or lower than 11.0x, which hasn't been possible on a retail Intel chip for several years. By shipping the Core 2 Extreme unlocked, Intel has taken yet another page from AMD's Guide to Processor Success. Unfortunately for AMD, this wasn't the only page Intel took.

Manufacturing Comparison

The new Core 2 processors, regardless of L2 cache size, are made up of 291 million transistors on a 143 mm^2 die. This makes the new chips smaller and cheaper to make than Intel's Pentium D 900 series. The new Core 2 processors are also much smaller than the Athlon 64 X2s despite packing more transistors thanks to being built on a 65nm process vs. 90nm for the X2s.

CPU Manufacturing Process Transistor Count Die Size
AMD Athlon 64 X2 (2x512KB) 90nm 154M 183 mm^2
Intel Core 2 65nm 291M 143 mm^2
Intel Pentium D 900 65nm 376M 162 mm^2

Intel's smaller die and greater number of manufacturing facilities results in greater flexibility with pricing than AMD.

New Pricing
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  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Corrected, it was a misprint.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Zorba - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Why is the article talking about how Intel is killing AMD on power consumption when AMD is on the top for both idle and load? If you are doing a performance/watt ratio you need to show that on the graph. This page (page 7) just makes the how article look completely baised. Reply
  • Calin - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Because the EE SFF processors were hard to obtain by Anandtech even for testing purposes. I'm not sure they are available in retail market any more than Conroe is Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    The Core 2 Extreme X6800 has a performance per watt score of 0.3575 in WME9 compared to 0.2757 for the X2 3800+ EE SFF. I'll put together a performance per watt graph now and see if I can stick it in there.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    I included the performance per watt scores I mentioned above in the review now, hopefully that will make things a little more clear.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    I don't see the chart, Anand - I hope I didn't accidentally overwrite your change. Sorry! Reply
  • MrKaz - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Don't put it because it's a biased chart,

    Why based on WM9 benchmark? Why not one of the others?

    Why put it now, if you never put it when A64 was killing the P4s?
    Reply
  • coldpower27 - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Because AMD didn't real make a big deal about the performance per watt intiative back in the day. They focused on their price/performance instead. Reply
  • MrKaz - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    So?

    Just because Intel focuses now on that Anandtech must be obliged to put it?

    So for you where was the price/performance (A64 vs P4) charts on Anandtech reviews?
    Reply
  • coldpower27 - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Yeah, due to their making people aware of it, it has now become a issue.

    It was only after Prescott, that we became more aware that thermals were starting to get out of control and paid more attention to wattage numbers.

    Price/Performance is not as hard to calculate.
    Reply

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