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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  • JJWV - Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - link

    I bought a QX6700 for crunching at numbers. The reasoning was simple twice the power, only one MB, disk, PSU, case...

    The result is disappointing, the maximum throughput I get is not twice an E6700, it is just a little more than one an half : 1,6 to be precise. The bottleneck is definitely the memory. The Northbridge cannot communicate fast enough with the memory. 5I came to this conclusion by varying multiplier, FSB...) Perhaps it would be worthwhile with the faster memory available 9200, but I am afraid even that kind of memory is to slow. The Quadcore is where Intel went over the edge with their memory architecture.
  • Kougar - Tuesday, November 14, 2006 - link

    Any ideas on the Apache benchmarks I am seeing with a QX6700? They are appalling at best, with a QX6700 performing on par to a E6400!! A little of the same problem seems to have shown up in Office Productivity benchmarks. Any thoughts on this?
  • in1405 - Monday, November 6, 2006 - link

    <<<No article looking at a new processor release would be complete without benchmarks. However, let us preface the benchmark section by stating that the benchmarks don't tell the whole story. There are numerous benchmarks and tasks that you can run that will actually show quad core processors in a better light. A lot of people will never use the applications related to these benchmarks, so in one sense we could say that most people should already know whether or not they need quad core processing.>>>

    Some interesting comments here on the relevance of Benchmarks .. This looks interesting as this point of view never came up while the AMD CPUs were being glorified a few months back in this same site!! Wonder where the sudden wisdom comes from.
  • LTC8K6 - Sunday, November 5, 2006 - link

    Why not compare dual to quad by trying to run things in the background while you do something in the foreground? Encode something and play Oblivion, for example. Would we finally be able to do anything like that with quad cores? Are we able to get good framerates in such a situation yet?
  • Webgod - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    How about running">DriverHeaven.Net's Photoshop CS2 benchmark? I think one of your standard magazine benchmarks has Photoshop 7, but the DH benchmark is newer and it's somewhat popular. Anybody can download a demo from Adobe, and run the benchmark on their own PC.
  • coldpower27 - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    Check Intel's current price list here:">
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    Actually just the 820 and 914 - 805 didn't get a price cut this month. But I fixed the other two, thanks. :)
  • coldpower27 - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    oh yeah my bad, didn't mean to add the 805 in there.

    by the way, check your email please.
  • OddTSi - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    On page 7 you say "Apple's OS X and its applications have also been well threaded for quite some time..." yet the only two Apple apps in the test (Quicktime and iTunes) didn't scale AT ALL from 2 to 4 cores. I'm not trying to bash Apple here I'm just trying to point out that the facts don't seem to support your assertion. If Apple's media rendering apps - which are some of the easiest to multithread - don't scale well I doubt that the rest of their apps do.
  • mino - Thursday, November 2, 2006 - link

    Maybe cause there is a catch?
    You see, WinXP is not very OSX like, not to mention its apps ;)

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