Intel, oh Intel, how uninteresting your processors have been to us for so long now.  Where have the days of the Northwood gone?  Prescott brought us a minor bump in clock speed, minor increases in performance, and more importantly - major increases in power bills.  But if any company can go down the wrong path for five years and still come out on top, it’s Intel. So starting next year, we’ll start seeing a new Intel.  A more power conscious Intel and to kick it all off will be Intel’s first Earth-friendly dual core processor: Yonah. 

As the successor to the current Pentium M (Dothan) and the predecessor to next year’s Conroe, Merom and Woodcrest cores, Yonah is a very important chip.  As a mobile processor Yonah will bring dual core to thin and light notebooks, basically anywhere you’d find a Pentium M, you’ll now be able to find two Pentium Ms.  The implications for mobile performance are huge, as multitasking on notebooks has rarely been all that great of an experience.  At the same time, Yonah is so much more than just a dual core mobile processor - it’s a predictor of the performance of Intel’s next-generation desktop micro-architecture.  Sure, it won’t have all of the architectural bells and whistles that we’ll see when Conroe debuts at the end of next year, but it’ll have many and that makes it a reference point. 

The problem with the Pentium M architecture has been that although it’s traditionally done well at office tasks and obviously in the power consumption department, it has lagged behind the Pentium 4 and Athlon 64 when it comes to FP intensive applications such as video encoding, and to a lesser degree, 3D gaming.  With Yonah, Intel has promised to address those performance issues, and even more so with their next-generation micro-architecture later next year.  But we tend to want to see things for ourselves, and Yonah will at least give us an indication of how things have improved since Dothan, and whether or not Intel is on the right track to replacing the Pentium 4.

By now we’ve hopefully stressed the importance of Yonah, and there’s just one more detail to mention - we have one.

The Platform - Yet Another Socket

While the launch of Yonah still won’t be until January of next year, we’ve had a chip for the past month, unfortunately, we haven’t had a motherboard to stick it in.  We finally got one two days ago, which is why you’re seeing this article now, instead of more pictures of our Yonah posing alongside the Xbox 360.  The problem is that Intel seems to have changed sockets once more, meaning that Yonah is not backwards compatible with the original Pentium M socket.

If you’ll remember back to the introduction of the Pentium M, Intel introduced a brand new socket for the processor: Socket-479.  Back then, the desktop Pentium 4 still used the pin-based Socket-478, so the different pin-out was a bit of a pain to deal with as we all wanted to be able to stick Pentium Ms in our Pentium 4 motherboards. 

The Yonah socket is still a 479-pin interface, however the pin-out has been changed once more, and of course Yonah won’t even physically fit into any current Pentium M motherboards.  Instead, you’ll need a brand new motherboard with a brand new chipset.  So if you invested in any of the handful of desktop Pentium M motherboards that were released over the past year, you’re unfortunately out of luck.


Yonah (left) vs. Dothan (right) - Note the different pin-out

What’s this about a new chipset?  Well, it’s not exactly a new chipset, rather it’s Intel’s mobile 945 chipset - the mobile version of the desktop chipset we’ve had for quite some time now.   The platform we’re testing on in particular uses Intel’s 945G chipset, with integrated graphics, but of course we aren’t too interested in integrated graphics performance so we’ll be using the PCIe x16 slot on the board. 

While we can’t tell you who makes the motherboard we’re testing with, the important thing to note is that it is a desktop motherboard made specifically for Yonah.  It’s got a single PCIe x16 slot, meaning you don’t have to rely on integrated graphics, and all of the bells and whistles you’d expect from a desktop motherboard; this could very well be the heart of your next system.

We’ve been hearing that Pentium M based desktops will become a lot more common next year, and this motherboard is definitely an indication of that. 

Same Size, but Twice the Cores
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  • fitten - Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - link

    [quote]Sigh...have you ever heard of Google before? It's a wonderful little search engine that would have shown you inumerable articles on the Dual Core Turion being released in early 2006... [/quote]

    "Early" 2006 is indeed the quote from the ones I saw.

    [quote]Gee...then increasing their marketshare by 75% from Q2 to Q3 was unsuccessful, eh? [/quote]

    Well... so 1.75X is interesting... without knowing what X is, we cannot draw any conclusions from your statement. If AMD sold 4 laptops in Q2, a 75% increase would be 7 laptops for Q3. Selling 7 laptops is not exciting and is miniscule marketshare. Intel's Centrino/Sonoma/etc. laptop packaging schemes are really nice for manufacturors and has been very popular, even increasing the entire laptop market's numbers. Intel has a huge share of the laptop market right now, even larger than the desktop market.

    [quote]quote:

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Turion power consumption isnt quite on the same level as Dothan. They will need to move to 65nm before building Turion laptops
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    If someone could translate this for me, I'd be happy to respond... [/quote]

    Seems like English to me. What language do you need it translated into? The one obvious issue was one the author corrected himself. He meant to say "dual-core Turion laptops" instead of what he directly said. Just a simple restatement may make it clear: Dothan power consumption is less (which is better) than Turion and Yonah is on par with Dothan or better than Dothan. AMD will need to have 65nm dual core Turions to be/remain competitive with Yonah parts. I don't think much response is necessary since the statement is pretty much accurate. Laptops are about battery life and small form factor. Intel is winning there, no question about it.

    Personally, I have 8 machines at home including laptops. The two laptops are both Banias/Dothan based but all my desktops are AMD. Three are Athlon64s and the rest are AthlonXPs. I'm not a fanboi. I simply by what I think are the best tools for the job. I think AMD desktop CPUs are better than Intel offerings. I think Intel laptops are better than AMD offerings. However, I'd love to get an Athlon64 laptop so I could run a 64-bit OS on a laptop for my development but I rarely use the laptop that I have these days so getting another doesn't make sense right now. Don't let religion cloud your senses. I know it's easy to do.
    Reply
  • Viditor - Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - link

    quote:

    Well... so 1.75X is interesting... without knowing what X is, we cannot draw any conclusions from your statement

    A fair enough comment...I shall expand.
    Firstly, AMD released the Turion late. The problem is that OEMs that manufacture laptops always release their new designs near January, and AMD didn't get them the Turion in time for a 2005 release. That said, all major OEMs except Dell have already stated that they will be releasing numerous Turion laptops next year...
    Secondly, Turion sales last quarter represented the largest number of mobile processors that AMD has ever sold. Don't get me wrong, Intel sells one helluva lot more right now...but when AMD is able to achieve design wins with laptop OEMs next year, that's expected to start to even up...
    quote:

    The one obvious issue was one the author corrected himself

    Yes, I know...unfortunately he corrected himself while I was typing my reply...
    quote:

    Laptops are about battery life and small form factor. Intel is winning there, no question about it

    I certainly DO question it...take a look at the http://www.laptoplogic.com/resources/detail.php?id...">Laptop Logic review...
    Notice to what extent they've documented all of their testing and retesting...
    It shows Turion and Dothan are at about the same power usage. Unfortunately, Anand didn't have (I assume) a Turion to compare against for this review...
    I think many people need to reevaluate their assumptions about the P-Ms supremacy in power usage.
    One other thing to keep in mind is that the Turion is 64bit and the Dothan/Yonah are not. Remember that 64bit adds to power usage, so we still aren't comparing apples to apples yet...
    Reply
  • tayhimself - Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - link

    I dont want to bother rehashing everything addressed in fittens well written reply above, but I'll add a few things.

    quote:

    Intel sells one helluva lot more right now...but when AMD is able to achieve design wins with laptop OEMs next year, that's expected to start to even up...


    AMD is nearly 50% of PC desktops sold at retail (this excludes laptops, dell and corporate), but the laptop market has recently become bigger than the desktop. intel has nearly 80% of the overall market. Excluding dell home sales, it still stands that intel has a large lead in the corporate and laptop areas (they probably overlap a lot). So if AMDs laptop market share is 75% bigger, they still have a long way to go. The opteron, and to a lesser extent, the A64 have been so much BETTER than intel and yet AMD has only recently made inroads into the server market and expanded their desktop market share to near where it was in the AthlonXPs heyday.

    quote:

    I certainly DO question it...take a look at the Laptop Logic review...

    They disabled enhanced speedstep? What does the powermanagement software do other than put the CPU in different modes? Still the numbers on the Turions are in the same region that I would'nt hesitate (too much) picking a Turion for myself or a friend. I'd still choose the intel if the price was the same though (for the fantastic chipset not the cpu). All that said, the 25W Turions are worthy laptop cpus, and I'm hoping for a successful Turionx2 so that we can have dual core everywhere sooner rather than later.

    WRT dual core Turions on 130 nm, I dont think too many people will find them interesting other than for the 7-9 lb DTR "laptops".
    Reply
  • Viditor - Thursday, December 01, 2005 - link

    quote:

    WRT dual core Turions on 130 nm

    Turions have never been 130nm...you meant 90nm. The dual core Turions will be 90nm, and will migrate to 65nm mid year...
    Reply
  • Darth Farter - Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - link

    and again are people ignoring the fact that DDR2 is giving the P-M an edge in battery life....

    Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Friday, December 02, 2005 - link

    It showed in an -->INTEL<-- presentation that showed that DDR2-533 consumes SAME POWER as DDR400!!! Yonah uses DDR2-667, and WILL consume more power than DDR400.


    So when AMD goes DDR2, there will be a relative disadvantage in power consumption.
    Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Friday, December 02, 2005 - link

    Even if DDR2 is 50% low power than DDR400, that's assuming they are at same clock.

    DDR2-667 would be close to DDR400 in power consumption so Yonah has no real advantage in RAM power consumption UNLIKE THE CONTRARY.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - link

    quote:

    and again are people ignoring the fact that DDR2 is giving the P-M an edge in battery life....
    Let's not forget the fact that the memory controller is on the North Bridge of the Intel system so you have it and a South Bridge to power unlike a single chip solution in the AMD systems. This is one reason why we look at total system power usage instead on concentrating on one particular component as it provides a look at the platform differences in a fair manner. Also, not all DDR-2 runs at 1.8v, several suppliers provide 2~2.1v modules depending upon the latencies requested by the OEM.
    Reply
  • Shintai - Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - link

    The Northbridge for a centrino chipset with GFX is between 3.0-3.5W peak. Reply
  • Darth Farter - Wednesday, November 30, 2005 - link

    -----------------------------------------------------
    "Let's not forget the fact that the memory controller is on the North Bridge of the Intel system so you have it and a South Bridge to power unlike a single chip solution in the AMD systems."
    -----------------------------------------------------

    hey, AMD: ATi, VIA, SIS and even the NForce4 Sli(the one with 2x 16pci-e lanes editions) all use a southbridge too, plz investigate before making such claims...

    and that gives the yonah/pentium-m otherwise the advantage everyone touts over the net in power usage as AMD has it's included on chip which makes the AMD chip use more.
    Also, the Pentium-M/yonah have 2x the cache which is back to AMD's advantage..........

    -----------------------------------------------------
    "This is one reason why we look at total system power usage instead on concentrating on one particular component as it provides a look at the platform differences in a fair manner. "
    -----------------------------------------------------
    excluding what I just said about DDR vs DDR2 with the obvious advantages you seem to avoid....
    and:
    "...instead of concentrating on..." uh, we're looking at yonah vs manchester here (which ARE particular components)?


    -----------------------------------------------------
    "Also, not all DDR-2 runs at 1.8v, several suppliers provide 2~2.1v modules depending upon the latencies requested by the OEM"
    -----------------------------------------------------

    as does ddr2 requiring often 3+ in volts making your arguement completely reversed in DDR's heavy disadvantage...

    BTW, I looked it up before posting but couldn't find any evidence, but it seems OCZ EL PC3200 rus at 2-3-2 timings stock and requires 2.75Vdimm to function at 2-2-2-1T @ DDR400.... but as I wasn't sure I let this out of my statements....



    anyway not really a point here in battling chip architecture as it's just trading blows, but my point being platform difference is mainly the DDR2 vs DDR1 with a TANGIBLE difference in power consumption between the two which is discredited incorrectly imo to the CPU's power consumption on the last page.... see?
    Reply

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