Articles: CPU

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Almost all our latest articles dedicated to the new Intel processors start in the same exact way: with a short reminder of the “tick tock” strategy, long-term schedule for further enhancement of this manufacturer’s microarchitecture and production technologies that was in place for the past several years. We are not going to be original this time either. It is true: the desire to stick to the promises is in fact the only reason why Intel keeps rolling out new generation solutions on an annual basis. Starting with 2006 when they first introduced their Core microarchitecture, this company has remained the performance leader in the CPU field. The second move that strengthened Intel’s positions in the processor market dramatically was the introduction of 45 nm manufacturing process a year later, in 2007. You may think that they could have stopped there, but the desire to continue sticking to “tick tock” strategy didn’t let them slow down even a bit. They continued making progress and in 2008 introduced new Nehalem microarchitecture. The launch of Bloomfield and then Lynnfield processors has totally eliminated all doubts that Intel was the only one at the top of the processor market.

But the story doesn’t end here. The original schedule suggested that 2009 was supposed to be the time for Intel to transition to an even more advanced 32 nm process. And again Intel didn’t veer away from the promises they had made several year ago. Although 2009 is technically already over, the company started making 32 nm processor last year already. So, today these CPU are not just announced but are already widely available in retail. I am talking about a family of solutions known under Westmere codename, which include Gulftown and Clarkdale desktop processors and mobile Arrandale CPUs. Although at this point the company only offers two solutions of the three – Clarkdale and Arrandale, but the fact is undeniable: the new production technology has been introduced in time.

Today we are going to talk about the new 32 nm dual-core Clarkdale processors designed for desktop platforms. It is remarkable that these CPUs are positioned not for the upper price segment, but on the contrary, for the mainstream and value segments. This strategy for introduction of the new manufacturing processor “from the bottom to the top” is indeed the result of adapting Intel’s “tick tock” policy to the current market situation. No doubt that nothing is threatening the well-being of 45 nm Bloomfield and Lynnfield CPUs in the upper price segment. AMD doesn’t have and is not going to have any alternative solutions here for a long time. That is why Intel has no real reason to replace these solutions with anything newer just yet. Therefore, it is not surprising that the high-performance six-core Gulftown processor manufactured with 32 nm process will come out later.

As for the dual-core Clarkdale, it is aimed at a completely different target. Intel is going to use this CPU to strengthen their positions in the mainstream and low-end segments by replacing the morally outdated LGA775 solutions there. It obviously makes a lot of practical sense. First, Core 2 Quad and Core 2 Duo are facing very serious competition from the pretty successful AMD Phenom II and Athlon II processor families. Therefore, it would really help to replace them with something more efficient. Second, the refresh of the mainstream platform should definitely stimulate chipset and mainboard sales, especially since we are going through mass transition to the new Windows 7 operating system at this time.

So, Intel is going to turn Clarkdale into one of the best-selling processors in the market. Therefore, they pin a lot of hopes upon this inexpensive CPU: it should boast more advanced consumer qualities than its predecessors as well as competitors. But will it prove up to everyone’s expectations? This is the question we are going to answer in our today’s review.

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