L2 Cache: 4MB or 2MB?

The majority of Intel's Core 2 Duo line feature a single shared 4MB L2 cache, but the E6300 and E6400 are only equipped with a 2MB cache. Given that the Core 2 Duo doesn't have an on-die memory controller, it is more dependent on larger caches than AMD's Athlon 64 X2, which raises the question - how big of a difference is there between the 2MB L2 and 4MB L2 parts?

Our Core 2 Extreme X6800 (2.93GHz) part, like all X6800s, is unlocked so we could simulate any other Core 2 Duo clock speed with it. We managed to get our hands on a Core 2 Duo E6300 (1.86GHz/2MB) and we were in business.

The graph below features all of the benchmarks we ran on the processors in this review, showing the percent performance improvement from a Core 2 Duo E6300 (1.86GHz/2MB) to a hypothetical 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo with a 4MB L2 cache. The bar labeled "Average" is simply an average of all of the performance improvements graphed on the chart.

The 4MB L2 cache can increase performance by as much as 10% in some situations. Such a performance improvement is definitely tangible, and as applications grow larger in their working data sets then the advantage of a larger cache will only become more visible. Unfortunately, you do pay a price premium for this added performance and future proofing as the cheapest 4MB L2 part is the E6600 priced at $316.

If you're the type to upgrade often, then the extra cache is not worth it as you're not getting enough of a present day increase in performance to justify the added cost. However, if this processor will be the basis for your system for the next several years, we'd strongly recommend picking a 4MB flavor of Core 2.

The Test Memory Latency: No Integrated Memory Controller Necessary
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  • ianwhthse - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Hmm... some more investigating.

    Firefox leaves space for the images, so I right-clicked and sure enough, I've got a link. "View Image" to look at a single .png, and I get a white blank screen (properties of this particular image says 446px by 654px, 0.04kb in size).
  • JarredWalton - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    I'm using Firefox without trouble. Possibly some firewall setting is getting in the way? We had a few brief issues earlier tonight, but that only lasted a few minutes (and we're not sure what happened). If IE and FF both lack images, it sounds like something outside of browser. One note is that I think our image server (images.anandtech.com) blocks access to images if you don't allow the referring URL to be passed along. Meaning, if you were to get the URL of an image and paste that directly into a browser, the image would show up as a 1x1 blank file. Not sure if that affects the graphs as well or not.
  • ianwhthse - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    It was the referer info being blocked that was doing it, kinda annoying. Thanks a million.
  • JarredWalton - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Norton is the devil, I swear. They were great when Peter Norton was actually involved, but now it's just a name, and every release gets worse IMO. Norton Internet Security 2002 (2001?) was good; 2003 became a bit worse. 2005 was garbage and I never tried it again. I don't even run software firewall/anti-virus anymore. I've got a hardware firewall, surf with Firefox, password protect my PCs, and don't open stupid email messages. That only works because I'm the only one on the network/PCs, of course. :)
  • ianwhthse - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Yeah, I run an old corporate edition from maybe 2001-2002 because I can't stand the fat of the newer releases. And it's just worked well for me otherwise, I've got a newer edition sitting around in some pile of disks in some closet, but I tried it, hated it, went back.

    I've got a hardware firewall, software firewall, AV, surf w/Firefox, anti-Spyware, AND try not to do anything stupid -- I got'cha beat =P
  • ianwhthse - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link


    I see all the ads on the page (newegg, zipzoomfly, thermaltake, crucial, etc.) that seem to be flash. I also see the images for the header of the page (the Anandtech logo at the top of the page), but it's just the images in the review that are invisible.

    Hmm... I told the firewall (Norton) to lower my protection, and nothing [either browser]. I'll give it a stab disabled.

    *sign* Okay, charts worked w/o Norton running... (even on minimum protection, they wouldn't come up). I guess I'm off to delve into what setting is going to be doing that.
  • Gary Key - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    If you are using Opera 9 or 8, did you turn on "refferer" logging under tools - quick preferences or the advanced - network option?
  • xFlankerx - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Excellent article, by far the most detailed released yet. Yea, the E6400 was a rather important part since it's supposed to be equal to AMD's flagship FX-62, but its easy enough to figure out how it would perform from the other processors' performance.

    As for Conroe availability; 25% of Intel's total output should be more than enough. 20% of Intel's manufacturing capacity equals 100% of AMD's. If there is no shortage of AMD processors, 25% of Intel's total output should be more than enough to supply the market with enough processors?

    DigiTimes also reported that Intel will be charging everyone roughly the same price for the processors. Dell might not get the processors for half-off after all.

    That said, these processors are amazing. By far the greatest thing since the Athlon 64 almost 5 years ago. Fun stuff.
  • mikaela - Tuesday, March 16, 2010 - link

    yes, well-written. i also love the images provided here. thanks i can use the info here to write my essay college essay requirements
  • Suraj - Friday, October 20, 2006 - link

    Great article. How did they overclock the e6600? Did they use the same parts listed in "The test" ?

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