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Without further ado: Intel Core 2 Duo

Intel is set to announce its long awaited Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme processors tonight, July 14th, at 12:01AM EST. Initially announced at the Spring Intel Developer Forum 2006, Intel’s Conroe was demonstrated beating out AMD’s fastest processors from high end Athlon 64 X2’s to the gaming and enthusiast oriented Athlon 64 FX. Intel also previously launched the Core 2 architecture based Woodcrest Xeon 5110, 5120, 5130, 5140, 5150 and 5160 models. With the new Core 2 architecture Intel is moving away from the megahertz war and moving towards higher instructions-per-clock performance and improved power efficiency instead.  

New Core 2 processors are based upon a new micro architecture that shares its roots with Intel’s Core mobile architecture. Intel will launch Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme dual-core processors initially, though a single-core Conroe-L Core 2 Solo processor is expected in 2007. Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme processors have a plethora of new features including Intel Wide Dynamic Execution, Intel Smart Memory Access, Intel Advanced Smart Cache and Intel Advanced Digital Media Boost. Intel’s Wide Dynamic Execution technology allows the 14-stage pipeline to have a 33% wider execution over previous Netburst based processors. Each core also has deeper buffers, 4 wide-decode to execute, 4 wide-micro-op execute, micro and macro fusion and enhanced ALUs too.

Intel Smart Memory Access has an improved branch prediction unit with new pre-fetch algorithms that accelerate execution of out-of-order instructions and improve data movement between the L2 cache and system memory. With Intel Smart Memory Access the pipeline is always kept full for more efficient memory access that can mask the latency associated with a north bridge-equipped memory controller. Intel Advanced Smart Cache allows both processor cores to share the same L2 cache -- though bear in mind this has already been done for some time on Conroe's mobile predecessor, Yonah. Lower-end Core 2 Duo processors will have 2MB of shared L2 while Core 2 Extreme processors and higher end Core 2 Duo processors will have 4MB of share L2 cache. Intel claims a shared L2 cache reduces access latency and improves performance.

Intel Advanced Digital Media Boost is a performance enhancement for previous SSE, SSE2 and SSE3 instructions. While SSE, SSE2 and SSE3 instructions require two clock cycles to execute a single 128-bit instruction on previous architectures, the new Core 2 architecture can execute the same instructions in a single cycle. This improves performance and improves power efficiency as the processor can accomplish the same task in half the time.

Previous features such as Intel Virtualization Technology, Intel Extended Memory 64 Technology and Execute Disable Bit are available on new Core 2 processors as well.

While the performance NDA lifts later tonight availability isn’t expected until July 23rd, 2006.  On July 23rd, 2006 consumers should be able to purchase Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme processors from most online retailers and stores.  That being said, it's not unlikely that some merchants will start showing stock immediately to pre-empt shipments. Intel will officially announce availability on July 27, 2006.

Intel Desktop Performance Roadmap
Processor
Number
Frequency FSB
L2
Cache
Price
July 23
C2E X6800 2.93GHz 1066MHz
4MB
$999
C2D E6700 2.67GHz 1066MHz 4MB $530
C2D E6600
2.4GHz 1066MHz 4MB $316
C2D E6400
2.13GHz 1066MHz 2MB $224
C2D E6300
1.86GHz 1066MHz 2MB $183
P4D 945
3.4GHz 800MHz
2x2MB $163
P4D 915
2.8GHz 800MHz 2x2MB $133
P4D 820
2.8GHz 800MHz 2x1MB $113
P4D 805
2.66GHz 533MHz 2x1MB $93

Intel has priced Core 2 Duo processors competitively with a traditional Pentium 4 processors on all price points. At the low end of the spectrum are the 2MB L2 cache equipped Core 2 Duo E6300 and E6400 priced at $183 and $224 respectively. For an extra few bucks consumers can pickup the Core 2 E6600 with 4MB of L2 cache. Topping off the Core 2 Duo lineup is the E6700 for $530. Core 2 Duo processors will be available with 1.86, 2.13, 2.4 and 2.67 GHz respectively.

Gamers and enthusiasts looking for more performance can pickup the Core 2 Extreme X6800 for $999. Unlike previous Pentium Extreme Edition processors which only added a faster front-side bus and Hyper Threading technology, the Core 2 Extreme is clocked at 2.93 GHz, a 263 MHz clock frequency advantage over the Core 2 Duo E6700. Hyper-Threading will not be available on any initial Core 2 based processors.  Intel will launch a 3.2GHz Core 2 Extreme processor later this year, and a quad-core Kentsfield Core 2 Extreme processor early next year.

With the launch of Core 2 Duo Intel will aggressively cut prices on current Pentium D 945, 915, 820 and 805 processors. The 2x2MB of L2 cache equipped 3.4 GHz dual-core Pentium D 945 will drop to $163 while the 2.8 GHz Pentium D 915 will drop to $133. Pentium D 820 and 805 processors will drop to $113 and $93 respectively.

Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme compatible motherboards are expected from Asus, Epox, Gigabyte, Intel and Universal abit with 975X, P965 and G965 chipsets.


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RE: what a sad, sad day... for AMD
By AntiTomZandmasher2 on 7/16/2006 9:08:00 PM , Rating: 2
*rolls eyes* This is to be expected. When a company releases a new architecture, it's usually expected to leapfrog the competitor's. AMD's K8 is one generation behind Intel's. Once they revamp and rework the chip internals for the K8L, they'll be competitive again. Who knows, they may even leapfrog Intel on that release.

It's a cycle that's been going on for a while. When a new architecture is released, all older generation hardware is slashed in price until. When AMD comes out with an equivalent generation to the Core 2 Duo, they'll have matching prices. Then, we may be talking about Intel being in "serious trouble."

This kind of stuff happens every few years. The executives all know it and have planned for it already as a part of the computer industry. None of them are as worried as the fanboys.


RE: what a sad, sad day... for AMD
By TomZ on 7/16/2006 11:48:02 PM , Rating: 2
You're missing the point. It is not a fanboy concern. Prior to AMD's recent success, Intel was in a position to completely dominate the market. In the past couple years, we've seen AMD gain a lot of momentum and give Intel a run for their money. This is great because of the high level of competition this provides (prices, innovation, etc.).

Intel is still really dominant in manufacturing capability - in terms of having many times the capacity as well as process advantage that allows for manufacture at much lower costs. Now that Intel has finally fixed its architecture (by replacing it), the concern is whether AMD will be able to really respond and stay strong long enough to get to the next level. It is not a foregone conclusion that AMD will be able to afford to leapfrog Intel either in terms of product architecture and/or manufacturing. What we don't want to see is AMD falling apart and going back to an Intel-only world.


RE: what a sad, sad day... for AMD
By AntiTomZandmasher2 on 7/17/2006 3:32:05 AM , Rating: 2
You're right. Now that Intel has a good architecture, it'll be much harder on AMD. It's scary looking at the headroom on the Conroe.

Still, I don't think AMD will be out of the race. They're focusing on revamping their fabs and narrowing the manufacturing gap with Intel. They've got great management and smart engineers. Next-gen products are usually substantial improvements over previous gen ones. Forget P3->P4 and consider K6->K7, K7->K8, P4->Core2, 486->586 (That's as far back as I can remember).

IIRC, from one of my computer architecture textbooks, performance has been measured to jump 20-30% per clock between architectural revisions. I doubt that AMD will end up falling apart =).


RE: what a sad, sad day... for AMD
By Tyler 86 on 7/17/2006 6:13:28 AM , Rating: 2
If they make the process leap from 90nm to 65nm, with their current generation of chips, they have room to put 4 cores of current generation quality where there were once 2, at the same price as the chips they're shipping now.

Fear not for competition, AMD still has cards on the table.


RE: what a sad, sad day... for AMD
By epsilonparadox on 7/17/2006 10:51:53 AM , Rating: 2
Its not whether AMD can come up with a equally impressive performer because looking back the last 5 yrs, we know they have the talent. But if the K8L doesn't dominate at a 20% increase of Core2 and only equals the performance, Intel can simply lower the price points of their chips. That would be a tremendous blow to AMD because even now, AMD isn't diverse enough to take that kind of hit on their brand new architecture.


RE: what a sad, sad day... for AMD
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 7/17/2006 3:49:02 PM , Rating: 2
And you need to factor in Intel's extremely agressive die shrink. Theyre looking to drop to 45nm around the time K8L is releasing........

That's going to give Intel again the edge in manufacturing, which has been Intel's claim to fame for a long time. They are literally second to none when it comes to manufacturing technology/process.


RE: what a sad, sad day... for AMD
By kitchme on 7/17/2006 11:16:51 PM , Rating: 2
I agree...AMD has to make a leap in order to catch up to Intel now. They can't be coming out with the similar chip a year or more later. Intel has been agressively working on die shrink. while AMD's been slow on switching to a smaller die. But in the long run, this can only be good for us, unless Intel takes over the market. My last 3 CPUs were AMD's. But with Conroe's amazing performance and low price...it'll be hard to stay with AMD.


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