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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  • bob661 - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    quote:

    So they say 5 years ago until now Intel was “all” crap. I think Northwood was/is very good.
    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.
    Reply
  • aznskickass - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Man, some AMD fanboys just can't take defeat with dignity.

    Really expensive? Top of the line, sure, but funny you fail to mention the E6300 and E6600, which both offer far better value than the equivalent priced A64.

    Finally match (or even exceed by a few points)?
    OK, here is where I suggest you get your eyes checked out, or go back to school and learn to read graphs. C2D *spanked* A64, not 'match it or exceed it by a little'.

    I think you are just upset that AMDs days as performance crown are over. Tough life being a fanboy eh. You gotta take the ups with the downs son. ;)
    Reply
  • epsilonparadox - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    how is a $999 C2E hundreds of dollars more than a $999 FX-62? How is a 55% increase in performance "match (or even exceed by a few points)"? Perhap a slow reading of the article is need. Reply
  • Genx87 - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    Intel has a hot chip on their hands here. Problem is, when will it have SLI available?
    And when will we finally see a review using an Nvidia chipset on the AMD side of this equation?
    Reply
  • Bozo Galora - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    newegg has started the conroe game by getting a $460 premium on extreme CD2

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82...">http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82...
    Reply
  • Bozo Galora - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    errr......
    thats a rape of $360, not $460 - my bad (duh)
    Reply
  • bob661 - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    It's not on the website anymore. I can't find any Conroe's up their at all. Non-existant. Also, and I know some of you read this but didn't AT say that the supply Conroe would be tight and would drive prices up until the end of the year? So why the bitching about higher prices? If Dell and others are buying up and making supply tight then prices go up. That's the way stuff is.

    Also, who has a Conroe other than the EE that we can buy today? Also, if these CPU's aren't available and today is the launch day then wouldn't this be considered a paper launch? And one more thing, where are the motherboards for this thing?
    Reply
  • yacoub - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    technically a paper launch means there were none available at all on launch date. my understsanding is that there were some of these available, they have just been bought up. a limited supply is still better than a true paper launch, imho, even if the end result is the same for most of us - no product available to buy. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, July 14, 2006 - link

    This is a paper launch, and there's a variety of political reasons for it. Among the reasons:

    1 -- AMD is cutting their processor prices in a couple weeks, right after Core 2 Duo was supposed to launch. Intel wanted to launch first.

    2 -- People have been previewing Conroe performance for a while, because they got processors without going through Intel. Some were upset that they couldn't do articles because they didn't want to put in the time or effort trying to get a chip through other sources. By moving up the NDA lift date, Intel now allows all of the web sites to talk about Core 2 Duo in the open.

    Anyway, it's all a marketing war right now, and both AMD and Intel are guilty. Where are the Energy Efficient AMD processors? In about the same place as current Core 2 Duo chips. Basically, though, Intel is building up supply before the official availability launch as opposed to the NDA launch. We might actually be pleasant surprised by availability at the end of the month.
    Reply
  • Shintai - Saturday, July 15, 2006 - link

    How can it be a paperlaunch if they haven´t launched yet? Launch is still july 27th.

    Having sites test an upcoming product is a whole other matter.

    And just because some can buy B2 stepping retail Core 2 Duos from sites already shipping them means nothing.

    Here is a pic of a retail X6800 btw ;)
    http://80.167.217.210/pics/e6800.jpg">http://80.167.217.210/pics/e6800.jpg
    Reply

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