Final Words

General application performance can improve a bit by switching to Core 2 Duo, but the biggest performance gains are associated with 3D rendering and media encoding tasks. Considering the nature of the improvements to Intel's Core 2 processor, the areas in which it succeeds are not surprising. If you use your notebook as a professional rendering or encoding workstation with no desktop in sight, then you'll probably consider Core 2 Duo a lot more carefully than most.

One of the items that clearly stands out is that discussing gaming performance on laptops is largely an academic endeavor, as the vast majority of shipping laptops are going to be completely GPU limited. We will hopefully have some results from a high-end gaming laptop in the near future, at which time we can detmine how much of an advantage Core 2 Duo really has over Core Duo. The designs are similar enough that we don't expect a huge difference, and the lower FSB bandwidth will certainly limit performance potential more than on the desktop. However, we would expect a difference somewhere in the range of 5-15% in most games if we can remove the GPU bottleneck as is evidenced by the Oblivion results.

While Core 2 Duo does look nice, as long as you've got a good notebook today you'll probably want to wait until Santa Rosa before upgrading (at the earliest). With Santa Rosa, clock speeds will go up slightly but more importantly we'll get access to a faster FSB. Unfortunately a side-effect of keeping Core 2 Duo fed with a faster FSB is that while performance may go up, battery life may go down. It'll be interesting to see what Intel can pull off with the new platform; one of the funny things about performance and battery life is that if you can complete a task quickly enough thus returning your CPU to an idle state faster, battery life will grow even though instantaneous power consumption may be higher.

For Apple users this means that early adopters of the new MacBook or MacBook Pro won't be too pressured to upgrade again by the end of this year. Of course Apple has this way of making incremental changes irresistible.

Overall, Merom may not be as big of an upgrade to Yonah as Conroe was to NetBurst, but the bottom line is that you get equal or better performance in every test without increasing cost or decreasing battery life. Owners of Core Duo laptops really have no reason to worry about upgrading for now, and waiting for the Santa Rosa platform before your next laptop upgrade seems reasonable. Those looking to purchase a new notebook on the other hand have no reason to avoid Core 2 Duo models, assuming pricing is consistent with what Intel is promising. There will be a delay of at least a few more weeks as we await availability, and testing and validation by laptop manufacturers may delay things a bit more, but within the next month or so you should be able to get a Core 2 laptop.

Battery Life - Reading, DVD Playback & Wireless Web Browsing
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  • Sergio710 - Thursday, August 3, 2006 - link

    I've heard that Merom would come to 45 nm some day, does anyone know more about it ?

    supposed date ?
    impact on battery life ?
    Reply
  • mino - Thursday, August 3, 2006 - link

    All CPU series wiil go 45nm. Eventually.

    AFAIK don't expect 45nm Core 2's sooner that Q108.
    Reply
  • Sergio710 - Thursday, August 3, 2006 - link

    Forgive my ignorance, but what benefit will have 64 bits for every day use ?

    better performances on Vista or enabled soiftware or only the possibility to install more RAM ?
    Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Friday, August 4, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Forgive my ignorance, but what benefit will have 64 bits for every day use ?

    better performances on Vista or enabled soiftware or only the possibility to install more RAM ?
    Longevity will be the benefit.

    It's not helpful right now, but if you're like me, you'd keep a notebook computer for some time before getting rid of it. I buy as future-proof (since that isn't possible, future-resistant) as I can. That means I'd want a 64-bit capable processor so that I can run the 64-bit version of Vista at some point, and so that I have the option of going to 4GB of RAM on my notebook some day. Since Merom prices are the equivalent of Yonah prices, this makes even more sense --it wouldn't cost me any more.
    Reply
  • Pandaren - Thursday, August 3, 2006 - link

    Right now, there is no benefit. Unless you are running Linux. 64-bit is completely useless for most people until Microsoft gets it together and finishes Windows Vista. Reply
  • peternelson - Thursday, August 3, 2006 - link

    I agree I was thinking of 64 bit linux and technical apps like rendering.

    However there is possible option on XP64 professional. eg if you want to do trial factoring for mersenne.org prime number project, running the 64 bit client gives a big boost over 32 bit version.

    I hope 64 bit becomes more mainstream (not just nerds) when Vista 64 is available.

    In ideal world: boot linux64 and Vista64 or virtualise one with the other.

    As a bonus if you can throw in a 64 bit version of a new Mac OS for a triple OS environment, that would be just what the doctor ordered.

    At the moment I can live without the Apple support, so linux/vista will be fine. ie Linux for serious work, Vista for 3D gaming.
    Reply
  • jeffwegher - Thursday, August 3, 2006 - link

    Isn't another advantage of the new Merom that it's 64-bit whereas the older Yonah is only 32-bit? Reply
  • peternelson - Thursday, August 3, 2006 - link

    He stole my comment, but ABSOLUTELY.

    A major disadvantage of Core Solo and Duo (as in Yonah) was that it's 32 bit ONLY.
    For that reason I won't buy a laptop or apple mac based around it.
    Merom (Core 2 Duo) IS 64 bit capable and that's important to me. It's the MOST important feature of this upgrade, second most important is virtualisation.

    I hope Apple wake up and start sticking Meroms into their desktop and notebook macs real soon.

    Also anandtech you don't mention that very point, using a so-called mobile cpu in a desktop SFF which is a market predicted to grow.

    This has to be another big market for Merom cpu: space saving home systems, media centres etc.

    As for all the hype about how much better this new generation architecture is, I have to say the performance jump of 2-5-10-15-20% is mediocre compared to what might have been expected if the reality lived up to the hype. Thanks anandtech for setting the record straight. On the other hand ANY performance increase for no extra battery usage has to be welcome. You're right that the FSB constraint limits it in today's machines.

    It's good they are priced similarly although in the market I expect manufacturers to charge a premium in the short term.

    How quickly will Apple be adopting this in their small desktop machines?
    Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Saturday, August 5, 2006 - link

    quote:

    As for all the hype about how much better this new generation architecture is, I have to say the performance jump of 2-5-10-15-20% is mediocre compared to what might have been expected if the reality lived up to the hype. Thanks anandtech for setting the record straight. On the other hand ANY performance increase for no extra battery usage has to be welcome. You're right that the FSB constraint limits it in today's machines.

    It's good they are priced similarly although in the market I expect manufacturers to charge a premium in the short term.

    How quickly will Apple be adopting this in their small desktop machines?


    Actually you are in your own reality to expect greater advantage than that over Core Duo. If you have been actually paying attention, Intel expects 20% advantage for Core 2 Duo 2.33GHz over Core Duo 2.167GHz. Core 2 Duo's performance advantage of 40% applies against Pentium D, which is worse performer than Core Duo.

    Not to mention Core 2 Duo in Laptop has same FSB, same memory, same chipset as Core Duo!!
    Reply
  • Pandaren - Thursday, August 3, 2006 - link

    Intel claimed all along a 40% performance jump relative to Pentium D, NOT Core Duo. The performance jump relative to Core Duo was always claimed as "up to 20%," which is in line with Anandtech's findings. Reply

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