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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  • bob661 - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    quote:

    So they say 5 years ago until now Intel was “all” crap. I think Northwood was/is very good.
    Sorry but the Netburst stuff is STILL garbage. Core 2 is head and shoulders better than anything they've made since the P3. Although, I thought the power consumption would be better.
    Reply
  • aznskickass - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Man, some AMD fanboys just can't take defeat with dignity.

    Really expensive? Top of the line, sure, but funny you fail to mention the E6300 and E6600, which both offer far better value than the equivalent priced A64.

    Finally match (or even exceed by a few points)?
    OK, here is where I suggest you get your eyes checked out, or go back to school and learn to read graphs. C2D *spanked* A64, not 'match it or exceed it by a little'.

    I think you are just upset that AMDs days as performance crown are over. Tough life being a fanboy eh. You gotta take the ups with the downs son. ;)
    Reply
  • epsilonparadox - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    how is a $999 C2E hundreds of dollars more than a $999 FX-62? How is a 55% increase in performance "match (or even exceed by a few points)"? Perhap a slow reading of the article is need. Reply
  • Genx87 - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Intel has a hot chip on their hands here. Problem is, when will it have SLI available?
    And when will we finally see a review using an Nvidia chipset on the AMD side of this equation?
    Reply
  • Bozo Galora - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    newegg has started the conroe game by getting a $460 premium on extreme CD2

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82...">http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82...
    Reply
  • Bozo Galora - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    errr......
    thats a rape of $360, not $460 - my bad (duh)
    Reply
  • bob661 - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    It's not on the website anymore. I can't find any Conroe's up their at all. Non-existant. Also, and I know some of you read this but didn't AT say that the supply Conroe would be tight and would drive prices up until the end of the year? So why the bitching about higher prices? If Dell and others are buying up and making supply tight then prices go up. That's the way stuff is.

    Also, who has a Conroe other than the EE that we can buy today? Also, if these CPU's aren't available and today is the launch day then wouldn't this be considered a paper launch? And one more thing, where are the motherboards for this thing?
    Reply
  • yacoub - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    technically a paper launch means there were none available at all on launch date. my understsanding is that there were some of these available, they have just been bought up. a limited supply is still better than a true paper launch, imho, even if the end result is the same for most of us - no product available to buy. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    This is a paper launch, and there's a variety of political reasons for it. Among the reasons:

    1 -- AMD is cutting their processor prices in a couple weeks, right after Core 2 Duo was supposed to launch. Intel wanted to launch first.

    2 -- People have been previewing Conroe performance for a while, because they got processors without going through Intel. Some were upset that they couldn't do articles because they didn't want to put in the time or effort trying to get a chip through other sources. By moving up the NDA lift date, Intel now allows all of the web sites to talk about Core 2 Duo in the open.

    Anyway, it's all a marketing war right now, and both AMD and Intel are guilty. Where are the Energy Efficient AMD processors? In about the same place as current Core 2 Duo chips. Basically, though, Intel is building up supply before the official availability launch as opposed to the NDA launch. We might actually be pleasant surprised by availability at the end of the month.
    Reply
  • Shintai - Saturday, July 15, 2006 - link

    How can it be a paperlaunch if they haven´t launched yet? Launch is still july 27th.

    Having sites test an upcoming product is a whole other matter.

    And just because some can buy B2 stepping retail Core 2 Duos from sites already shipping them means nothing.

    Here is a pic of a retail X6800 btw ;)
    http://80.167.217.210/pics/e6800.jpg">http://80.167.217.210/pics/e6800.jpg
    Reply

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