Print 7 comment(s) - last by creathir.. on Jul 17 at 6:01 PM

Since I recently had the chance to test two "Conroe" chips, I'd like to share my experiences with those exciting new CPUs

Like many other sites out there, German hardware site K-Hardware (which I'm writing for) was also provided with samples of Core 2 Duo / Extreme chips. Of course Intel sent me a Core 2 Extreme X6800 and a Core 2 Duo E6700 along with a D975XBX Revision 304. In Germany the CPU manufacturers tend to give out the faster models only, since they'd like to sell more of those with higher margins on them.

Performance-wise Conroe leaves no question. I already expected it to win just about every benchmark and it came true during the actual testing. AMD only managed to win in memory bandwidth and latency tests as well as in ScienceMark 2 - Molecular Dynamics. Other than that, Intel won everything and most of the time leaving a big gap between the new chips and AMDs FX-62. Even a E6600 outperforms AMDs enthusiast chip by a good margin. On top of that, Conroe overclocks great, which will make it the #1 choice for enthusiasts.

Now enter the bad things... Yes, there are a few bad things about Conroe. First off is temperature. While Intel managed to significantly cut power consumtion, the core temperature during load is almost as high as with Netburst-based Pentium XE 955 and about 10°C higher than compareable AMD chips, which boast the same power consumption figures when measured at the wall outlet. Just for reference, my X6800 went up to 66°C, while the E6700 remained at 60° thanks to lower core voltage. A possible explanation is the higher thermal density with 65nm, but those Netburst-chips were 65nm as well, so I'm not satisfied with that. I would have expected lower thermals.

Another thing I didn't like was the way how they introduced some new instructions unofficially dubbed SSE4. Upon request Intel told me that those instructions were internally named MNI (Merom New Instructions), but will not receive some recognizeable identifier. It simply doesn't exist in Intel's marketing. SSE4 doesn't exist, albeit those instructions are there. I wonder how people will specify that you need those instructions, when there is no official way to call them. Maybe people will simply stick with SSE4, which is already used in a range of CPU information tools. The CPUID flag is there, it just lacks an official name.

Another not so nice thing is motherboard compatibility, something Intel will never get right. You always need a new chipset and even if you have that, some nasty VRM could be in the way. But this problem is already well-known and people have apparently accepted to get a new mainboard everytime they buy a new Intel CPU. Of course I'm also concerned about availability and I'm not alone with that either.

That being said, I still regard the Core 2 Duo processors as a great choice and I can only hope that those people, who want to have one of those, will get hold of one rather sooner than later. I also believe that such strong competition will be good for AMD, as they are now forced to be more competitive.

Those interested could check out my review here.

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Manifying glass...
By Tyler 86 on 7/16/2006 8:50:47 PM , Rating: 2
Intel's new desktop chip is as hot as their old desktop chip. I know and you know it's only a small thing, but it's something AMD can hold on to. I don't know, maybe there's a market for low thermal chips... I'm pretty sure there's only markets for mainstream, highest performance, and low power... maybe there's a niche' market there. AMD's still got that integrated memory controller, so I doubt they'll play to that lower thermal market.
The only true low-thermal market is the laptop market, yet both of these are desktop chips. Provided, there are 'Desktop Replacements', but even Conroe's heat doesn't bust the thermal envelope with a well designed low profile heatsink.
Extreme overclockers sub-zero the chips, so there's no real issue there either.

From a programmer's perspective, I can tell you right now...
Under any name, new performance enhancing instructions are never a bad thing.
They have their own bit in the CPUID structure.
Default path without new instructions, enhanced path with new instructions. It's optimization 101.
Absolutely zero penalty, zero problem; only gains can come from this.

These mainboard issues, however, are a problem. :\

RE: Manifying glass...
By berat556 on 7/17/2006 12:03:41 AM , Rating: 2
I do not knwo but the FX 62 with a tdp of 125W should get hotter than a Conroe but I cannot warrant that since I cannot afford one.

RE: Manifying glass...
By ddudley on 7/17/2006 8:38:50 AM , Rating: 2
Supposedly AMD uses the absolute maximum power rating on their chips, where Intel uses a more "complicated" way of measuring their power consumption which tends to be lower, and more in line with normal usage. From what I've read, there is no way to compare the two.

RE: Manifying glass...
By tuteja1986 on 7/17/2006 9:55:15 AM , Rating: 2
I didn't have to beg , steal or buy at a crazy price ;( ... For some reason i got a package with Intel Core 2 E6600 with Intel D975XBX motherboard mailed to my house. I was confused and shocked, as I don’t work at my old place where I got engineer sample but they may still have me down their list. Anyways I was going to replace my Main Computer's Motherboard and CPU to accommodate the new goodies i got but then i decide it to build a new Computer so i went to local comp shop and bought so new parts. I call this computer Panther V as it was the best Tank of WW2.

RE: Manifying glass...
By creathir on 7/17/2006 6:01:10 PM , Rating: 2
Thats a great story.

- Creathir

By Alaa on 7/17/2006 3:47:26 AM , Rating: 1
gr8 concerned about the temp problems more than anything since i live in Egypt which may cause problems!

RE: thermal
By Tyler 86 on 7/17/2006 6:08:27 AM , Rating: 2
While your worries are warranted, relax...

They cook the chips at over a sweltering 40C (104F) room temperatures with the heatsinks they're distributed with to make sure they work... to make sure they aren't damaged.

Quality assurance, and what not..

If you ever used a Pentium 4 or Athlon 64 in the same environment, you probably won't have any problem.
They have thermal throttling in place 'just incase'.

The article mentions the temperatures are at 66C (150F)
For the Pentium 4 & Pentium D...
The thermal throttling kicks in at 75C (167F)
The thermal shut-off for most motherboards (can be disabled) kicks in at 80C (176F)
The processor can still operate in a throttled state at 105C (212F), maybe even 120C (248F).

Unless you live in Microwave Oven, Egypt, ofcourse...

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