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More performance, more options: here's "Merom"

Today Intel is expected to officially launch the Core 2 Duo processor for mobile platforms. Based on the Merom core, Core 2 Duo is arguably the industry's most anticipated mobile processor launch of this year.  Judging from performance comparisons of its desktop counterpart, Conroe, Core 2 Duo should deliver some very impressive performance benchmarks in notebooks, which will also be announced this week. While Intel had a launch party for Core 2 Duo earlier last month, today marks the official day when products with Core 2 Duo processors become available. Expect major manufacturers such as Dell, Lenovo, Sony and others to release notebooks based on the new platform.

Actual specifications for Merom and Conroe remain nearly identical with the majority of Core 2 Duo processors coming with 4MB of L2 cache and running on a 667MHz front-side bus.   Even low-voltage versions of Core 2 Duo such as the L7400 model will run on a 667MHz front-side bus and come with 4MB of L2 cache. Core frequency, however, is reduced from 2.2GHz in the T7400 model down to 1.6GHz in the L7400 model. All Core 2 Duo processors utilize virtualization technology enabled and are fully prepared to run 64-bit applications.  Like Conroe, the 4MB of L2 cache is shared between the two processor cores.

Intel will debut the Core 2 Duo Mobile processors in a number of flavors.  All prices are for distributors:

Intel Core 2 Duo Mobile Launch
Intel C2D T7600
Intel C2D T7400
Intel C2D T7200
Intel C2D T5600
Intel C2D T5500

This is only the first revision of Core 2 Duo, or Merom.  Today's Core 2 Duo notebooks will be based on Intel's highly successful Napa platform, but the company will be phasing this Centrino platform out around Q2 of 2007. At that time, Intel will move in its Santa Rosa platform which uses the GM965 and PM965 Express chipsets and adds the ICH8M and ICH8M Enhanced Southbridges. Santa Rosa will replace Intel's 945GM Express chipset.  This next generation of Merom processors will utilize an 800MHz front-side bus, slightly higher clock speeds and a different socket design.

According to Intel roadmaps, Core 2 Duo processors will make up for more than 55% of its total mobile processor shipments by early 2007. Additionally, Intel expects that dual core processors for the mobile platform will exceed 95% of its production output -- single core processors are definitely on the way out.

Intel roadmaps reveal impressive power consumption numbers for Core 2 Duo processors. Intel claimed on the average, Core 2 Duo processors will have a higher performance-per-watt ratio than existing Core Duo (Yonah) processors. However, DailyTech previously reported that those with a concern for battery life are more than likely better off with notebooks based on Core Duo processors. The top of the line Yonah processor, the T2700, has a TDP of 31W at 2.33GHz clock frequency.  All Core 2 Duo Merom processors have a TDP of 34W, including the 1.66GHz T5500.  By comparison, the 1.66GHz Yonah has a TDP of 27W.

Look forward to seeing Merom versions of the existing Core Duo notebooks available today since Merom is pin-compatible with Yonah processors.  However, don't expect to buy a Merom off the shelf and stick it into your notebook -- the majority of notebooks manufactured today, including the recent MacBooks, actually have the processor soldered onto the motherboard rather than socketed.  Furthermore, when Merom gets its next speed revision at the Santa Rosa launch, any new processors based on the Merom core will have a new socket.

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Not worth it
By dcalfine on 8/27/2006 11:02:38 PM , Rating: 1
I read the review on Anandtech last month. The Core2 Duo mobile gives, at most, a 15% speed advantage over the Yonah, but in most cases it's more like 5. Here's the link:

Maybe if your cpu isn't soldered this might be an okay upgrade (but not great), but if you'd be getting a new laptop alltogether just to get this new cpu, wait for santa rosa, which will support an 800MHZ bus rather than the 667MHZ, which is clearly holding back Merom

RE: Not worth it
By feelingshorter on 8/28/2006 1:00:39 AM , Rating: 2
They say that if you double a cpu's speed, you only get a 50% performance gain anyways. 5-15% is good enough for me if the MSRP is the same. Santa Rosa wont be here until Q2 2007 and the 800 mhz Core 2 wont be here until Q1 2007. Wont be that long of a wait but what im really excited about is the Low Voltage and Ultra low voltage cpus from intel. That alone should be worth the wait if not for the little increased performance. Im just waiting for the pricing to be released for the Low and Ultra low voltage cpus but from what i see already, its going to be 2000+ for those latops probably.

RE: Not worth it
By smilingcrow on 8/28/2006 4:01:53 AM , Rating: 2
Please update the article to show that initial Merom range will run with a FSB of 667 and not 800, as the table shows.
If you’re expecting to upgrade your Core Duo next year to an 800 FSB CPU then you are out of luck, as they will be for the new socket only, seemingly.

RE: Not worth it
By kelmon on 8/28/2006 4:15:08 AM , Rating: 2
It would be nice to wait another 6-months for a new laptop but I neither trust that Intel will deliver Santa Rosa on-time nor that it will really make that much of a difference to me. Even restricted Merom will thrash my current laptop (1GHz G4 and 133MHz bus) so I'm not going to wait any longer since I needed a new laptop yesterday.

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation

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