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:

    Because people were able to buy these four days ago?
    But they're not available today. Why is that?

    quote:

    Because the official launch is still two weeks away?
    So Intel is launching this twice? What is going on today? Technology preview?
    Reply
  • Questar - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    quote:

    But they're not available today. Why is that?


    Sold out?

    quote:

    So Intel is launching this twice? What is going on today? Technology preview?


    RTFA. The NDA lifted today. Launch is on the 27th.
    Reply
  • bob661 - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Sold out?
    If they were sold out they would still show on Newegg and ZZF.

    quote:

    RTFA. The NDA lifted today. Launch is on the 27th.
    I RFTA! That's how I was able to correlate the lack of product to the availability of benchmarks. Products leak all of the time and NDA's are held in place. This maybe a creative way of paper launching but it's still a paper launch.
    Reply
  • Questar - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    quote:

    If they were sold out they would still show on Newegg and ZZF


    Yeah, because that's the only two places you buy a CPU from.

    Sheesh.
    Reply
  • Questar - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    bob and MrKaz, forever the fanboy.

    Please explain to me why Intel having the better cpu upsets you so?
    Reply
  • MrKaz - Monday, July 17, 2006 - link

    And you?

    It can be better than Cyrix, IBM, Sun, ... I don’t care.

    But you seem to care more than me.
    If you don’t, why do you complain?

    This is not for me because my maximum 100€ for processor.
    It’s cheap (compared to others Intel past released brand new CPU) but not cheap enough.
    Reply
  • bob661 - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    quote:

    bob and MrKaz, forever the fanboy.
    I'm not a fanboi. I just hate hypocrites. If you read another post of mine in this section (use the scroll button Luke) you will see me praise the performance of the Conroe. I plan on buying one for my wife. I'll probably get a K8L if it turns out to be even or faster than Conroe otherwise I'll get a Conroe for myself.
    Reply
  • bob661 - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    quote:

    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.
    Here's the post I made. Sound like a fanboi to you?
    Reply
  • forPPP - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Why buying more expensive and slower Core 2 Extreme (X6800, 2.93 GHz) ? There is cheaper Woodcrest at 3.0 GHz !
    Are there no motherboard with unbuffered memory support for Woodcrest ?
    Reply
  • coldpower27 - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Nope Intel doesn't allow their Server processor to be used for desktop stuff as it's LGA771 socket. Reply

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