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:

    This is a paper launch, and there's a variety of political reasons for it. Among the reasons:
    I would like to know about the AMD EE CPU's myself. I forgot about those.
    Reply
  • bob661 - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    LOL! I got modded down because some of you clowns don't like to be accused of being hypocrites. So I'll ask a question. What's the difference between launching a video card and not having product available and launching a CPU and not having product available? I hear NO bitching at all on this. Why is that? Reply
  • epsilonparadox - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    I don't get where you're seeing its not available. According to a poster above,

    quote:

    Your screenshots with cpuid have the stepping as a B1 stepping 5 Conroe - I bought a retail Conroe X6800, and it was a stepping 6 revB2


    How are we being hypocrites?
    Reply
  • bob661 - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    quote:

    How are we being hypocrites?
    Beacuse this is a paper launch and no one's complaining but when ATI/Nvidia does the same thing everyone and their mom's are bitching and complaining. Hypocracy!
    Reply
  • Shintai - Saturday, July 15, 2006 - link

    How can be it a paper launch when Intel first launches it July 27th?

    After July 27th you can start whine...
    Reply
  • epsilonparadox - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    How could it be considered a paper launch if there are posters above you complaining the their OC results of the C2Ds that they bought and have in their possession aren't as good as AT's? Reply
  • bob661 - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    quote:

    I don't get where you're seeing its not available. According to a poster above,
    One poster gave a link to Newegg but there's nothing there. I searched the site and saw nothing. I also checked ZZF and Monarch. Nothing there. If this CPU is available, why can't I buy it?
    Reply
  • epsilonparadox - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    As you said yourself before, the supply is tight hence the ridiculous price. If they've been available then they were already bought. http://www.buy.com/prod/CORE_2_DUO_E6600_DC_LGA775...">Check buy.com
    Its temporarily sold out but the orders placed when it was in stock were shipping july 5th.
    Reply
  • bob661 - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    That's a little high but not out of line. I paid $400 for my 3500 and this is MUCH faster. I am surprised that no one here has one of these since they were released earlier. Reply
  • Questar - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Because people were able to buy these four days ago?

    Because the official launch is still two weeks away?
    Reply

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