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Intel Core 2 Extreme

Posted by Parth Barot on July 18, 2006

Over the past year, the hype machine has been beating the drum for Intel’s new processor architecture. Dubbed Core, the new architecture is a radical shift for a company that was once the chief proponent of ramping up CPU frequency. Core 2, the first desktop product, promises to be faster than the Pentium D series and even faster than the Athlon 64 FX-62. However, those last tests weren’t completely kosher, as the “FX-62” was really an overclocked FX-60 running on DDR400, rather than the DDR2-based FX-62, and they were done under Intel’s supervision.

Even so, it’s been clear from all the leaks, sanctioned testing, and industry scuttlebutt that Core 2 is fast. But does it really perform in a wider array of applications than has been previously leaked or revealed? We’ll answer that question shortly.

Today, Intel finally reveals the details of their Core 2 CPUs, allowing us to present our full independent analysis. We obtained a pair of Core 2 CPUs from Intel: the Core 2 Duo E6700, which runs at 2.66GHz and will cost approximately $530, and the Core 2 Extreme X6800, which clocks at 2.93GHz and is priced at $999. (These are prices for quantities of 1,000.)

Core 2 owes much of its heritage to the Intel’s mobile Pentium M processor line. The first iteration of that architecture, known as Banias, was the creation of Intel’s Israeli design team. But Core 2 isn’t just another iteration of the Pentium M. Instead, it steals a little from the old NetBurst architecture and adds enhancements of its own.

The net result is a processor with a substantially shorter instruction pipeline than NetBurst (Intel’s name for the architecture of the Pentium 4 and Pentium D processors.) In Core 2, substantially more instructions are executed per clock cycle, so even though Core 2 processors run at a lower clock frequency than previous Intel desktop lines, they run applications faster. Core 2 is also more power efficient: Intel’s goals for the mainstream CPU is to maintain 65W, versus the 90W to 95W of the mainstream Pentium Ds or the 130W of the high-end Pentium D 940 or Extreme Edition CPUs.

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