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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  • Sharky974 - Friday, November 3, 2006 - link

    Dudes, I remember reading, with detailed benchmarks from a site that specialized in HDD's, that raid array's for speed are COMPLETELY AND UNEQUIVICABLY USELESS.

    It bugs me too, because then as now, people just refuse to accept that fact, even with benchmarks proving it over and over staring them right in the face. RAID DOES NOT SPEED UP YOUR SYSTEM. PERIOD.

    If you want to use it for auto backup otoh, fine..
  • cjb110 - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    One question I would like answered, would a quad core help with the gaming and background task usage? (i.e. IM, P2P etc etc) Is Windows intellegent enough to use those cores properly?

    Reason I ask is I'm planning to go from a 2 pc setup (1 gaming, 1 background tasks) to a single setup, and wondering if quad would be an even better solution for me?
  • Sunrise089 - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    Probably not. While this sounds like a good idea, the main benefit in going dual-core is offloading 100% of those background tasts to the second core, so the game gets one core all to itself. Moving from two to four does almost nothing because there isn't anything else to unload. Now, in the future there will be more titles that will use 2 cores, so 4 core chips have their uses, but by then most readers of this site will have upgraded again anyways. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    Depends on the background tasks. If you're running something in the background like media encoding, which can already easily use two cores, I would expect quad core to do better. If you're running BitTorrent plus media encoding plus a TV recording application, then I would expect even more benefit if you try to game. Of course, if you're doing all that, you better have a nice HDD configuration as well. RAID 0 with NCQ enabled should suffice. Reply
  • Sunrise089 - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    Ok, sure, but when most people ask this question they are talking about a game plus IM and anti-virus and maybe a Firefox window. Not all that many people play fullscreen games while encoding files and bittorrenting. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    Right, in which case there's little difference, at least right now. When games start coming out that can use multiple cores (not just 2 or even 4), then it could become a lot more important. For now, dual cores is plenty for 99% of people. Reply
  • shabby - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    I love it how steve jobs is pimping the intel chip now, before his ppc chips were oh so much faster then intel chips. What a two faced whore... Reply
  • Donegrim - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    But before his ppc chips WERE more powerful than Intel ones. Before the core architecture came into being. Now the core is faster than the ppc, so he is using them. Makes sense really, I'm sure I'd do the same. Reply
  • Griswold - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    Nah, he was cursing the whole x86 architecture. By your logic, he could have went with AMD while Intel was touting their netburst furnaces. Reply
  • peternelson - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    "4x4 is an entirely new platform using Socket-1207 (not AM2) CPUs. As much as AMD wants 4x4 to succeed, what we're really waiting for is Barcelona. "

    HAS AMD ANNOUNCED CLEARLY that 4x4 will be only 1207 and NOT AVAILABLE for AM2?

    In earlier announcements it looked like 4x4 would be AM2 (hence speculation about how it could dual socket without extra hypertransport links). PLEASE STATE IF AMD HAVE MADE AN UNAMBIGUOUS STATEMENT OR CLARIFICATION TO THIS EFFECT. Note 4x4 and the acceleration coprocessor tech are two different technologies and might be confused if they are in the same conference/press release or anandtech article.

    In any case AMD promised 4x4 during 2006, so we will know the answers real soon ;-)

    I think 4x4 will not be nice just for two dualcores, but for have TWO QUADCORES. Now depending on if those quadcores can be AM2 or 1207 or available for either, that will alter the price/performance of AMD's offering.

    However I am looking forward to an 8 core system from AMD.

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