After the incredible launch of Intel's Conroe earlier this year it's not too easy to follow that up, even if Intel is launching the world's first quad core desktop processor. The Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 is based on the new Kentsfield core, which we previewed not too long ago at IDF.

It's tough to tell a Kentsfield apart from a Conroe; although it sounds like a lot, 582 million transistors don't really feel any heavier than only 291 million (and it won't even sound like a lot after another week). With a heat spreader covering the flipchip cores, you can't tell that Kentsfield is nothing more than two Conroes placed on a single package. Much like Presler before it, Kentsfield is technically a quad-core processor with two separate die on the same package.

Core 2 Duo (left) vs. Core 2 Quad (right) - The only visible differences are the filter caps underneath the chip

We've shown in the past that there's no real world performance penalty to this approach to manufacturing, and there are numerous benefits from Intel's perspective. Yields are improved by producing a two die quad-core processor rather than a single die. The approach also improves manufacturing flexibility since Intel can decide at a very late stage whether to produce a dual or quad core processor after a die is fabbed.

CPU Manufacturing Process Transistor Count Die Size
AMD Athlon 64 X2 (2x512KB) 90nm 154M 183 mm^2
Intel Core 2 Duo 65nm 291M 143 mm^2
Intel Core 2 Quad 65nm 291M x 2 143 mm^2 x 2
Intel Pentium D 900 65nm 188M x 2 81 mm^2 x 2

The end result is you get 582 million transistors, built on a 65nm process, running at 2.66GHz for $999. You'll note that the price is equal to Intel's Core 2 Extreme X6800 with only two cores but running at 2.93GHz, and once again we're faced with the more cores or higher clock speed dilemma. In January 2007 Intel will introduce a slightly higher production model, the Core 2 Quad Q6600 running at 2.40GHz and a new $851 price point. Of course we'll benchmark both today.

CPU Clock Speed L2 Cache Price
Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 2.66GHz 2 x 4MB $999
Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 2.93GHz 4MB $999
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.40GHz 2 x 4MB $851*
Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 2.66GHz 4MB $530
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 2.40GHz 4MB $316
Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 2.13GHz 2MB $224
Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 1.86GHz 2MB $183
Intel Pentium D 945 3.40GHz 2MBx2 $163
Intel Pentium D 915 2.80GHz 2MBx2 $113
Intel Pentium D 820 2.80GHz 1MBx2 $93
Intel Pentium D 805 2.66GHz 1MBx2 $93

*To be released in Q1 2007
More Cores, but where's the Elegance?


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  • archcommus - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    Quote form the conclusion page:

    "We don't expect dual or quad core to be necessary for gaming anytime in the next 9 months..."

    Really? That is surprising to hear. 9 months takes us to next July. I thought Alan Wake would definitely be released before then, and I thought that game REQUIRED two cores and would greatly benefit from four. Are you sure that statement isn't supposed to read "We don't expect QUAD CORE to be necessary for gaming anytime in the next 9 months..."?
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    I thought Alan Wake was looking more like late 2007 (along with Unreal Tournament 2007 and some other games). We'll have an article looking into this area a bit more soon, but right now the games aren't out; they're in development, but the "when it's done" attitude often leads to launch dates that get pushed back. Reply
  • floffe - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    One game isn't gaming in general ;) Reply
  • johnsonx - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    AT Writers:

    The first chart on page 1 seems to have a typo. It states the Core 2 Quad has a die size of 162mm^2x2. But it shows the Core 2 die size as 143mm^2. If the Quad is just two Core2 dies, then why are they so much bigger?

    The quoted die size of the Pentium D 900 at 162mm^2 suggests the source of the typo.
  • coldpower27 - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    As well if were going to be consistent and and call Core 2 Quad as 2x 143mm2 which is the right figure I might add not 2x 162mm2, then the Pentium D 900's should indeed be 2x81mm2 and not 162mm2 as it is stated right now on the chart. Reply
  • coldpower27 - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    Continued.. The reason being as the Pentium D is also 2 die on a single package just like Kentsfield as in this case you had 1 core on each die instead of a 2 core per die arragement. Reply
  • Sunrise089 - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    All I really needed to know from this article:

    1) Responsiveness isn't any better from CoreQuad

    2) No mainstream software that I might use will take advantage of 4 cores in the near-future.

    4) Quad-core does come at a large price increase (it isn't a free-lunch like the first dual-core chips from Intel were)

    5) Quad-core doesn't overclock as well.

    Decision - almost everyone who buys this at these prices is making a mistake, by the time the software catches up with this everyone will be ready to upgrade again.
  • eoniverse - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    From a gaming perspective definately. But if you render I like the performance increase. Price does suck. However when AMD 'replies' middle of 07 - the prices will adjust.

    And I'll be buying 'something'.
  • rowcroft - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    Do you think that with four cores, there are other bottlenecks limiting performance? I would think that moving to a striped disk array would be representative of a system that has a $999 processor.

    With four cores I would imagine there is some disk access contention happening. Especially since the iTunes test using write/reads pretty heavily doesn't it?

    I'm no expert, just my thoughts.
  • EnzoM3 - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    Not a fan of one giant strip array. IMO, if disk contention is a problem, isolate the tasks that are contenting for disk access, then put the data on seperate physical drives. I put iTunes on one drive, page file on another, system files on main drive, videos and edits on another, and finally all iso's on one. Disk contention is never an issue even though rest of my system could use upgrades. Reply

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