A CPU-Z screen shot of Wolfdale  (Source: HKEPC)
"Penryn's" first showing reveals impressive results

Intel expects to begin releasing its 45nm Penryn family next quarter, beginning with the Xeon family. The company plans to release the desktop Core 2 variants in early 2008. The desktop variants of Penryn include the quad-core Yorkfield and dual-core Wolfdale processors.

Aside from the obvious 45nm die shrink, Penryn features a few additional core enhancements. Despite the enhancements, Penryn is still a Core 2 architecture processor. Penryn is more or less a mid-life cycle refresh of the Core 2 architecture, similar to how car manufacturers update the front fascia and give a car more power halfway through its life cycle.

With the core enhancements, a Penryn should theoretically perform faster than a Conroe or Kentsfield, given the same clock speeds. HKEPC managed to obtain a dual-core Wolfdale for some benchmarking. HKEPC pits a 2.33 GHz, 1333 MHz front-side bus with 6MB L2 cache Wolfdale up against a 2.33 GHz, 1333 MHz front-side bus with 4MB L2 cache Core 2 Duo E6550.

The site benchmarks the two processors in various benchmarks such as CineBench 9.5, ScienceMark 2.0, DivX 6.6 Alpha, Far Cry, Half Life 2 and more. The Wolfdale sample is at least 5% faster in most tests. There is a notable 19% performance improvement in the CineBench 9.5 OpenGL software test.

The biggest performance improvement occurs with SSE4 optimized applications. HKEPC obtained an SSE4 optimized version of DivX 6.6, in alpha form. Wolfdale manages a 116% performance lead over the Core 2 Duo E6550 when converting a 1080p MPEG2 file to MPEG4.

Intel has managed to reduce power consumption with Wolfdale as well. HKEPC tested Wolfdale and Conroe with Enhanced Intel Speed Step disabled. The results show Wolfdale consuming 18 watts less while running 10 degrees Celsius cooler. Under load, Wolfdale consumes 24 watts less power while running 12 degrees Celsius cooler.

The early performance and power results of Wolfdale are quite impressive. If Intel can deliver the same results with Yorkfield, the CPU wars will be quite interesting – especially with Agena right around the corner and Deneb following shortly afterwards.

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