Intel Core 2 Duo E4300: Affordable and Highly Overclockableby Anand Lal Shimpi on January 10, 2007 2:45 AM EST
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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.