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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  • najames - Thursday, January 11, 2007 - link

    It would be nice if they would include 64bit benchmarks, even nicer would be 64bit Linux benchmarks since I am not paying $300-400 for Vi$ta. Reply
  • mlambert890 - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/core2...">http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/core2...

    Core 2 performs a few fetch and decode tricks in IA32 that it cant perform in EM64T. People seem to be overdramatizing the presumed effect that these tricks (or lack thereof) would have on 64bit performance. Ive done a lot of testing with C2 in various forms on XP, 2k3 and Vista x64 and have seen no defficiency with real world performance of C2 EM64T. I'm confident that benchmarks will prove this out.
    Reply
  • Accord99 - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    If you're not into overclocking, there are numerous cheap C2D motherboards and unlike the A64, you don't need fast memory. Unlike the A64 which requires DDR2-800 just to perform like S939 DDR-400. And if you overclock, then a simple overclock gives you performance that no AMD can touch.

    And for Vista, the C2D will out-perform the A64 just like it outperforms the A64 in everything else.
    Reply
  • Final Hamlet - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    Hello!

    Could you explain to me if Intel's energy-saving feature still works in idle situations when overclocked or does changing the FSB mean that the CPU is _always_ running at those high speeds?

    Can you give me a link to a tutorial how to change FSB speed - or is it simply a matter of mainboard BIOS settings?
    Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    quote:

    Hello!

    Could you explain to me if Intel's energy-saving feature still works in idle situations when overclocked or does changing the FSB mean that the CPU is _always_ running at those high speeds?

    Can you give me a link to a tutorial how to change FSB speed - or is it simply a matter of mainboard BIOS settings?


    I believe EIST won't work with overclocking(someone update me), but C1E works. The lowest speed at C1E will increase proportionally to FSB speeds though.

    Changing FSB speed is done by BIOS. You can do it from Windows too if your mainboard has the software for it.
    Reply
  • Final Hamlet - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    What is more efficient regarding energy-saving?
    C1e or EIST?
    I really would like to see documented in the article _how_ the CPU was overclocked.
    Reply
  • mongoosesRawesome - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    search google for core 2 duo overclocking guide. Reply
  • keitaro - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    All I can say is... wow... just simply wow...

    A friend of mine is considering sticking with AMD for building a new budget system. I'll have to show her this to see if this'll change her mind. I've already suggested to her to go where the performance is. I hope she'll change her mind after looking through this quick article.

    I so wish I could jump on the Core2 bandwagon right now. I'm glad that Intel is going to put 4MB on all of their 6000 series processors. This'll give me an additional incentive to look at their lowest 4MB Core2 offering. All I'd need then is a good matching motherboard and some quality DDR2 RAM.
    Reply
  • Calin - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    This could very well be put at work in a performance microATX board. When a microATX boards review will be here? Reply
  • Macuser89 - Wednesday, January 10, 2007 - link

    I would like to see the same benchmarks, but with the x6800 overclocked as far as it can go. with the same cooling as the e4300. Reply

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