While the world has been focused on the launch of Intel's desktop Core 2 Duo, codenamed Conroe, Intel has been readying its mobile counterpart also called Core 2 Duo.  With only a few changes to its desktop counterpart -- mainly its lower clock speeds and FSB frequency and thus lower power -- there's no reason to call the mobile version anything but Core 2 Duo. 

There hasn't been much interest in Core 2 Duo on the mobile side for two major reasons; for starters, unlike on the desktop, Intel already had a very competent mobile CPU - the Yonah based Core Duo processor.  Seeing as how Core Duo is the predecessor to Core 2 Duo, you can already expect that Intel's current mobile performance is quite good. 

The other major reason there's not much hype surrounding Core 2 Duo in notebooks is because there's simply not the level of competition from AMD that we had on the desktop.  While AMD's Turion 64 and Turion 64 X2 are good processors, you simply can't find them in nearly enough notebooks, and definitely not in as unique packages as you can find Intel's Core Solo and Core Duo processors.  AMD is hoping to rectify this situation by both working on a lower power mobile CPU architecture and acquiring ATI to help complete its platform offering on the mobile side. 

Without tough competition from AMD, and with an already excellent platform, there's simply no reason to get excited about Core 2 Duo on the mobile side; we're quite content as is.  But with mobile Core 2 Duo processors priced identically to Core Duo processors, there's no reason to complain.  Intel isn't asking for any more money, leaving us with two questions: how much more performance are we getting, and what happens to battery life?  

It's those two questions that we'll be answering here today, hopefully giving recent purchasers of Core Duo notebooks a reason to kick themselves or breathe a sigh of relief. 

New Processor, Old Centrino

Before we get to talking about Core 2 Duo in notebooks, it's worth mentioning that Intel's Centrino marketing won't change with the introduction of the new processors.  Although Centrino has taken a virtual backseat to Core 2 in recent months, the rules still remain unchanged.  In order for an OEM to be able to call its notebook a Centrino or Centrino Duo it needs to meet the following requirements:

  CPU Chipset Networking

Centrino

Intel Core Solo or Pentium M

Mobile Intel 945 GM/PM/GMS

Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG

Centrino Duo

Intel Core Duo or Core 2 Duo

Mobile Intel 945 GM/PM/GMS

Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG

 

Being able to sell a notebook as a Centrino or Centrino Duo is particularly important as Intel has invested a lot of money into the brand; in theory, the Centrino label should help sell your notebook better than without it.  From Intel's perspective, the Centrino platform ensures that each OEM has to buy three pieces of Intel silicon instead of just one.  Now you can see why AMD wants to get into the chipset market with ATI. 

The important takeaway point from the above table is that Centrino Duo notebooks can use either Core Duo or Core 2 Duo processors. There's no additional branding designation if your Centrino Duo notebook comes with a Core 2 processor. 

Backwards Compatibility

Intel's Core 2 Duo mobile launch is one of those very rare moments in Intel history where a brand new CPU is introduced and it is backwards compatible with existing motherboards. 

If you've got a Core Duo notebook with a PGA Socket-M interface, all you should need is a BIOS update and a Core 2 Duo CPU to upgrade your notebook.  If you've got a BGA CPU, then you're unfortunately out of luck as desoldering 479 balls from your motherboard without damaging it isn't for the faint of heart. 

Obviously there are some caveats, and you'll want to check with your notebook manufacturer to make sure it supports Core 2 Duo on your particular model before upgrading.  As far as Intel is concerned, the only stipulations for Core 2 Duo support are on the chipset side and are as follows:

 CPU 945GM 945GMS 945PM 940GML

Core 2 Duo

Supported

Not Supported

Supported

Not Supported

Low Voltage Core 2 Duo

Supported

Supported

Supported

Not Supported

Ultra Low Voltage Core 2 Duo

Supported

Supported

Supported

Not Supported

 

If you've got a 945GM or 945PM equipped notebook, then the Core 2 Duo should be a drop in replacement for your Core Duo processor.  The upcoming Low Voltage and Ultra Low Voltage Core 2 Duo processors will also work in the 945GMS chipset, and none of them will work in the 940GML chipset. 

Model Numbers Galore
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  • IntelUser2000 - Saturday, August 05, 2006 - link

    quote:

    It was interesting to compare the numbers in this review with the previous Core 2 Duo desktop review where 2MB vs 4MB L2 cache was examined (although at 1,83GHz/1066)

    http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?...">http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?...

    Its not a perfect comparison but from what I can gather, there are significant improvements performance wise coming from the core, even in the non-FP/SSE related benchmarks. A favorite argument among some people is that the extra cache makes all the difference, I hope this will shut them up! (tho I really doubt it)


    Correct. Lots of the benchmarks show 10% advantage for Core 2 Duo over Core Duo. The only 10% advantage 4MB L2 over 2MB L2 is in a single app.
    Reply
  • bob661 - Thursday, August 03, 2006 - link

    Video makes ALL the difference in the world. Reply
  • monsoon - Thursday, August 03, 2006 - link

    I'm in the market for a mini PC to do video trancode, and I was considering the MEROM chip to compare to YONAH...

    ...in the end, given the right graphic card ( add ATI X1400 series or higher here ) with hardware embedded transcode features, i guess the YONAH fits my bill just right.

    And i get to pay 100$ or 200$ less than the same computer with a MEROM which could not offer me better on the video side...

    What do you think ?
    Reply
  • bob661 - Thursday, August 03, 2006 - link

    I would get the best video you can get with the cash saved from getting the Memron. Reply
  • Tiamat - Thursday, August 03, 2006 - link

    Whats the difference between the Intel Core Duo T2300E* and the Intel Core Duo T2300E?

    I see a difference in price, but not specs. The page in the article does not address the asterisk...
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Thursday, August 03, 2006 - link

    The asterisk means that the CPU lacks support for Intel Virtualization Technology (VT). I had the note on Page 3 but I forgot to include it on Page 2 :) Thanks for the heads up :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply

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