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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  • arachimklepeto - Tuesday, July 25, 2006 - link

    And what about noise Core 2 Duo fan(decibels)? Reply
  • bmaamba - Tuesday, July 25, 2006 - link

    Hi,
    Acc. to Toms hardware, for EIST to work, setting in Control panel has to be changed from "desktop" to "portable/laptop".AT guys, was this done? If not, how about putting it in the "Power consumed" graphs?(acc. to Tom(if i rem. right), least power in this mode is about 25watts by core 2 duo!!!).Also anyone knowledgeable, is this setting available in Linux?
    Also, how about putting XP X2 3800+ EE in the encoding benchmarks (along with core 2 duo 6300)?
    Thanks
    Ed
    PS.Price and power consumed when idle are v. imp. to me.
    Reply
  • herkulease - Thursday, July 20, 2006 - link

    Unless I missed it what are temps like on these.

    Reply
  • Justin Case - Monday, July 17, 2006 - link

    What the heck is a "composite score"...? What are the units? How about giving us rendering times (you know, minutes, seconds) and render settings, so the numbers actually mean something...? Reply
  • rahvin - Monday, July 17, 2006 - link

    Where's a good 64bit comparison on Linux and a LAMP stack run at 64bit? There hasn't been a serious linux server benchmark posted. Reply
  • BikeDude - Sunday, July 16, 2006 - link

    I'd love to see some timings from a C++ compiler or two... Looks like I'll have to revise our standard developer PC configuration.

    --
    Rune
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Sunday, July 16, 2006 - link

    "Jarred that would be great to see. The E6300 and X2 3800+ seem close, but the final AMD pricing and the overclocking potential of each could really make either the clear winner for performance per dollar in the midrange segment."

    Yes - this is the test that most people want to see. I';m sure a lot of people are like me, and don't much care about any processors over $200. We want to see that the low end can do!! The AMD X2 3800+ is going to be even lower priced than the E6300, so there may be a good battle at teh low cost end.
    Reply
  • aznskickass - Sunday, July 16, 2006 - link

    Battle? What battle? The war is over my friend. ;)

    The E6300 wins hands down vs X2 3800+, even more so once both are overclocked:

    http://xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/core2duo-...">http://xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/core2duo-...
    Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Saturday, July 15, 2006 - link

    Would have been nice to see a Core Duo CPU in there too just for comparison for those of us with laptops who might considering spending $200 on a Merom if it would increase performance 10-20% over a Yonah with the same power consumption. Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Thursday, July 20, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Would have been nice to see a Core Duo CPU in there too just for comparison for those of us with laptops who might considering spending $200 on a Merom if it would increase performance 10-20% over a Yonah with the same power consumption.


    Link: http://www.trustedreviews.com/article.aspx?art=316...">http://www.trustedreviews.com/article.aspx?art=316...
    http://www.hardware.fr/articles/623-10/intel-core-...">http://www.hardware.fr/articles/623-10/intel-core-...

    Core 2 Duo E6400 2.13GHz is approximately 15% faster than Core Duo T2600 2.13GHz, in addition to the fact that 4MB cache versions are 3% in average faster, it looks estimation of 10-20% faster per clock than Yonah is right, even with the 2MB cache version.
    Reply

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