L2 Cache: 4MB or 2MB?

The majority of Intel's Core 2 Duo line feature a single shared 4MB L2 cache, but the E6300 and E6400 are only equipped with a 2MB cache. Given that the Core 2 Duo doesn't have an on-die memory controller, it is more dependent on larger caches than AMD's Athlon 64 X2, which raises the question - how big of a difference is there between the 2MB L2 and 4MB L2 parts?

Our Core 2 Extreme X6800 (2.93GHz) part, like all X6800s, is unlocked so we could simulate any other Core 2 Duo clock speed with it. We managed to get our hands on a Core 2 Duo E6300 (1.86GHz/2MB) and we were in business.

The graph below features all of the benchmarks we ran on the processors in this review, showing the percent performance improvement from a Core 2 Duo E6300 (1.86GHz/2MB) to a hypothetical 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo with a 4MB L2 cache. The bar labeled "Average" is simply an average of all of the performance improvements graphed on the chart.

The 4MB L2 cache can increase performance by as much as 10% in some situations. Such a performance improvement is definitely tangible, and as applications grow larger in their working data sets then the advantage of a larger cache will only become more visible. Unfortunately, you do pay a price premium for this added performance and future proofing as the cheapest 4MB L2 part is the E6600 priced at $316.

If you're the type to upgrade often, then the extra cache is not worth it as you're not getting enough of a present day increase in performance to justify the added cost. However, if this processor will be the basis for your system for the next several years, we'd strongly recommend picking a 4MB flavor of Core 2.

The Test Memory Latency: No Integrated Memory Controller Necessary
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  • arachimklepeto - Tuesday, July 25, 2006 - link

    And what about noise Core 2 Duo fan(decibels)? Reply
  • bmaamba - Tuesday, July 25, 2006 - link

    Hi,
    Acc. to Toms hardware, for EIST to work, setting in Control panel has to be changed from "desktop" to "portable/laptop".AT guys, was this done? If not, how about putting it in the "Power consumed" graphs?(acc. to Tom(if i rem. right), least power in this mode is about 25watts by core 2 duo!!!).Also anyone knowledgeable, is this setting available in Linux?
    Also, how about putting XP X2 3800+ EE in the encoding benchmarks (along with core 2 duo 6300)?
    Thanks
    Ed
    PS.Price and power consumed when idle are v. imp. to me.
    Reply
  • herkulease - Thursday, July 20, 2006 - link

    Unless I missed it what are temps like on these.

    Reply
  • Justin Case - Monday, July 17, 2006 - link

    What the heck is a "composite score"...? What are the units? How about giving us rendering times (you know, minutes, seconds) and render settings, so the numbers actually mean something...? Reply
  • rahvin - Monday, July 17, 2006 - link

    Where's a good 64bit comparison on Linux and a LAMP stack run at 64bit? There hasn't been a serious linux server benchmark posted. Reply
  • BikeDude - Sunday, July 16, 2006 - link

    I'd love to see some timings from a C++ compiler or two... Looks like I'll have to revise our standard developer PC configuration.

    --
    Rune
    Reply
  • kmmatney - Sunday, July 16, 2006 - link

    "Jarred that would be great to see. The E6300 and X2 3800+ seem close, but the final AMD pricing and the overclocking potential of each could really make either the clear winner for performance per dollar in the midrange segment."

    Yes - this is the test that most people want to see. I';m sure a lot of people are like me, and don't much care about any processors over $200. We want to see that the low end can do!! The AMD X2 3800+ is going to be even lower priced than the E6300, so there may be a good battle at teh low cost end.
    Reply
  • aznskickass - Sunday, July 16, 2006 - link

    Battle? What battle? The war is over my friend. ;)

    The E6300 wins hands down vs X2 3800+, even more so once both are overclocked:

    http://xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/core2duo-...">http://xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/core2duo-...
    Reply
  • Jeff7181 - Saturday, July 15, 2006 - link

    Would have been nice to see a Core Duo CPU in there too just for comparison for those of us with laptops who might considering spending $200 on a Merom if it would increase performance 10-20% over a Yonah with the same power consumption. Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Thursday, July 20, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Would have been nice to see a Core Duo CPU in there too just for comparison for those of us with laptops who might considering spending $200 on a Merom if it would increase performance 10-20% over a Yonah with the same power consumption.


    Link: http://www.trustedreviews.com/article.aspx?art=316...">http://www.trustedreviews.com/article.aspx?art=316...
    http://www.hardware.fr/articles/623-10/intel-core-...">http://www.hardware.fr/articles/623-10/intel-core-...

    Core 2 Duo E6400 2.13GHz is approximately 15% faster than Core Duo T2600 2.13GHz, in addition to the fact that 4MB cache versions are 3% in average faster, it looks estimation of 10-20% faster per clock than Yonah is right, even with the 2MB cache version.
    Reply

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