Last year saw the most exciting changing of the guard with processors since the introduction of AMD’s K7 core in 1999. Thanks to very solid competition from AMD over the previous few years, Intel’s introduction of the Core 2 Duo lineup of processors meant much higher performance at very reasonable prices. In fact, the near-launch availability of Core 2 Duo E6400 and E6300 CPUs meant that for less than $300 you could get performance better than previous generation Extreme Edition and FX series processors.

After the initial Core 2 launch, we didn’t see too much more from Intel, other than the late-year release of Intel’s quad-core Kentsfield processors. Earlier this week Intel introduced its second quad-core part, the Core 2 Quad Q6600 priced at $851 for a slightly more affordable entry to the quad-core market. While we won’t see anything quite as interesting as the Core 2 launch for a while now, Intel isn’t remaining quiet this year when it comes to processor releases.

1333MHz FSB processors

Intel’s chipset and CPU release schedules are very tightly integrated, and 2007’s roadmap is no different. Intel has made a habit of releasing a new family of chipsets every year, and this year’s update in Q2 will mainly bring about support for the 1333MHz FSB.

CPU performance and more recently, the number of cores per chip, have gone up drastically in recent years; the slowest Core 2 processors are more powerful in many cases than the fastest of the Pentium 4 line. Despite the quick ramp in performance and number of cores, FSB bandwidth has remained stagnant. In Q2 Intel will introduce Core 2 models ending in the number 50 (e.g. Core 2 Duo E6850, E6750 and E6650) that take advantage of the 1333MHz FSB. Both 1066MHz and 1333MHz versions will coexist as the newer cores will only officially be supported on Intel’s upcoming x35 series of chipsets.

4MB L2 across the board for the 6000 series

Another significant update coming in Q2 is that the low end 6000 series Core 2 Duo processors will receive 4MB L2 caches like their more expensive brethren. Currently the E6300 and E6400 both have 2MB L2s, but both chips will be replaced by 4MB versions - the E6320 and E6420 respectively. Clock speeds and other details won’t change, but performance will obviously increase. The best part of it all is that pricing won’t change either, so if you’re contemplating buying an E6300 or E6400 you’d be better off waiting a quarter so you can get the extra cache for free.

Introducing the 4000 Series
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  • sdsdv10 - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    I think the point was, with higher multiplier of the 4300 over the 6300 (or 6320) you don't need to go to such high FSB numbers (requiring more expensive DDR2 RAM) to get a good overclock. That might save you another $25-50. So for a MB, CPU and RAM combo you would pay say $450 for a 6300 setup, but you "may" get the same performance out of a 4300 setup for ~$350 (say $50 less on the CPU and another $50 on the RAM, roughly 20-25% less). That's a nice savings for those on a tight buget. Reply
  • atenza - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    Exactly! And it's also good news for people like me, who want to build a nice little (yet overclocked) Micro-ATX system. None of those boards currently gets anywhere beyond ~330 FSB. At 333MHz FSB, the E6300 would only run at 2.33 GHz. The E4300 would achieve 3.00 GHz, which is enough for me. Reply
  • Patrese - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    If it doesn't come to Brazil with the ridiculous price premiums the rest of the Core 2 line is coming (an E6600 costs US$550 here!), that chip is destined to be the next one I have, so that I can get rid of my good-old Athlon XP 3200+... Great news in that sense, but what I find really irritating about Intel is the short life of their chipsets and motherboards... Every year or so I'd have to upgrade my motherboard to upgrade processors.

    BTW, no AMD fanboy here... If K8L proves to be troublesome on AM2 motherboards you're gonna see me complaining about that too. I just find the idea of upgrading motherboards so fast irritating... :(
    Reply
  • 1111111 - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    quote:

    Windows Media Encoder is far more favorable to AMD CPUs and thus the E4300 ends up being a little slower than the X2 3800+.


    The Windows Media Encoder chart shows the E4300 faster than the X2 3800+ and the D945...so either the chart is wrong or the sentence is wrong:)
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    See above - fixed. Reply
  • harpoon84 - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    "Windows Media Encoder is far more favorable to AMD CPUs and thus the E4300 ends up being a little slower than the X2 3800+. Our overclocked chip ends up, once again, on top of the charts."

    Actually, the E4300 is faster than the X2 3800+ in this test.

    "At stock speeds, the E4300 ends up offering similar performance to the Athlon 64 X2 3800+."

    You are being overly kind to the X2 3800+. The E4300 beats it in the majority of the benchmarks. The E4300 is the equal of the X2 4200+ if you tally up the results.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    I have edited these two paragraphs to better reflect the results. The X2 3800+ is currently $30 cheaper than the initial launch price of the E4300, so it's still the cheapest way to get into a dual core setup without getting the power requirements of NetBurst, but I don't think most of us would really recommend X2 3800+ over the E4300... it's about a tie in terms of recommendation, depending on the intended use. Reply
  • duploxxx - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    well if you wouldn't recommend the 3800 over the e4300 maybe oc' wise yess, but don't forget to mention that a decent intel chipset also costs 30$ more than the amd solution...

    so pricewise a and performance wise 4200 is still more interesting than the e4300 unless you oc.

    try some vista benchmarks and you'll see what the best chips are future wise...... AMD for sure.
    Reply
  • OcHungry - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    I think people have misconception about AMD and vista (64bit). Have you run the 64bit vista? most of the benchmarks I tried w/ AMD's dual core were slower or froze cold. Vista has a long ways to go yet to be a choice OS. There is also the 32bit version of vista if you want C2D to run it. As for me I will not run vista until its matured and games can run faster (than winxp). Nvidia has not created a bug free vista driver yet. The latest nvidia vista (64bit) driver I installed turned out buggy and did not fully install (No nvidia display panel). I dont know, maybe it was me. But I have practically given up on it and am back to winxp. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    There seems to be an assumption by some people that Core 2 is going to somehow be slower in 64-bit mode. I highly doubt this for a couple reason: one, AMD isn't faster in 32-bit; two, 64-bit vs. 32-bit isn't a huge difference in architecture. Basically, 64-bit is just 64-bit registers and a few extra opcodes. Reply

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