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
POST A COMMENT

200 Comments

View All Comments

  • ianwhthse - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Hmm... some more investigating.

    Firefox leaves space for the images, so I right-clicked and sure enough, I've got a link. "View Image" to look at a single .png, and I get a white blank screen (properties of this particular image says 446px by 654px, 0.04kb in size).
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    I'm using Firefox without trouble. Possibly some firewall setting is getting in the way? We had a few brief issues earlier tonight, but that only lasted a few minutes (and we're not sure what happened). If IE and FF both lack images, it sounds like something outside of browser. One note is that I think our image server (images.anandtech.com) blocks access to images if you don't allow the referring URL to be passed along. Meaning, if you were to get the URL of an image and paste that directly into a browser, the image would show up as a 1x1 blank file. Not sure if that affects the graphs as well or not. Reply
  • ianwhthse - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    It was the referer info being blocked that was doing it, kinda annoying. Thanks a million. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Norton is the devil, I swear. They were great when Peter Norton was actually involved, but now it's just a name, and every release gets worse IMO. Norton Internet Security 2002 (2001?) was good; 2003 became a bit worse. 2005 was garbage and I never tried it again. I don't even run software firewall/anti-virus anymore. I've got a hardware firewall, surf with Firefox, password protect my PCs, and don't open stupid email messages. That only works because I'm the only one on the network/PCs, of course. :) Reply
  • ianwhthse - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Yeah, I run an old corporate edition from maybe 2001-2002 because I can't stand the fat of the newer releases. And it's just worked well for me otherwise, I've got a newer edition sitting around in some pile of disks in some closet, but I tried it, hated it, went back.

    I've got a hardware firewall, software firewall, AV, surf w/Firefox, anti-Spyware, AND try not to do anything stupid -- I got'cha beat =P
    Reply
  • ianwhthse - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Hmm...

    I see all the ads on the page (newegg, zipzoomfly, thermaltake, crucial, etc.) that seem to be flash. I also see the images for the header of the page (the Anandtech logo at the top of the page), but it's just the images in the review that are invisible.

    Hmm... I told the firewall (Norton) to lower my protection, and nothing [either browser]. I'll give it a stab disabled.

    *sign* Okay, charts worked w/o Norton running... (even on minimum protection, they wouldn't come up). I guess I'm off to delve into what setting is going to be doing that.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    If you are using Opera 9 or 8, did you turn on "refferer" logging under tools - quick preferences or the advanced - network option?
    Reply
  • xFlankerx - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Excellent article, by far the most detailed released yet. Yea, the E6400 was a rather important part since it's supposed to be equal to AMD's flagship FX-62, but its easy enough to figure out how it would perform from the other processors' performance.

    As for Conroe availability; 25% of Intel's total output should be more than enough. 20% of Intel's manufacturing capacity equals 100% of AMD's. If there is no shortage of AMD processors, 25% of Intel's total output should be more than enough to supply the market with enough processors?

    DigiTimes also reported that Intel will be charging everyone roughly the same price for the processors. Dell might not get the processors for half-off after all.

    That said, these processors are amazing. By far the greatest thing since the Athlon 64 almost 5 years ago. Fun stuff.
    Reply
  • mikaela - Tuesday, March 16, 2010 - link

    yes, well-written. i also love the images provided here. thanks i can use the info here to write my essay college essay requirements Reply
  • Suraj - Friday, October 20, 2006 - link

    Great article. How did they overclock the e6600? Did they use the same parts listed in "The test" ? Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now