Most Clarkdale reviews that you will see today online will most likely be full of the most flattering conclusions and will be convincing you that it is an excellent CPU. It is hard to argue that it is not the case, but we seem to have our own “special” opinion about it. We believe that Clarkdale is a very disappointing solution because it nothing like what we would expect a dual-core processor on Nehalem/Westmere microarchitecture to be. To really become an excellent solution that has inherited all the strengths of Nehalem microarchitecture, Clarkdale would have to be based on a monolithic semiconductor die manufactured with 32 nm process. However, Intel engineers had to compromise for the sake of lowering the production costs, which resulted in Clarkdale being split into two semiconductor dies, one of which is made using old manufacturing process. As a result, Clarkdale processors dissipate more heat than dual-core Core 2 Duo solutions. However, it is worse that some important functional units, including DDR3 SDRAM controller, got “separated” from the CPU, which led to slowing down of memory operations.
However, we will have to wait for at least another 1.5-2 years before our dreams find their way into hardware. This is when Intel should release their dual-core Sandy Bridge processor generation. That is why let’s sum up everything we know about the “limited” Clarkdale processor, which is available to us today. Despite its drawbacks, it turned out a very worthy product, from consumer point of view. Slow memory controller didn’t affect its performance too badly. Large 4 MB L3 cache partially makes up for this drawback. Besides, all other advantages of Nehalem microarchitecture are still in place.
As a result, Core i5-600 and Core i3-500 processors perform pretty fast and easily leave behind previous-generation dual-core solutions. Core i5-600 can even compete successfully against top quad-core CPUs for LGA775 platform. Hyper-Threading technology obviously turned out a very beneficial feature for dual-core Clarkdale. Since more and more applications get optimized for multi-core configurations, this particular technology allows new processors to hit the performance level that until recently used to be the prerogative of quad-core CPUs. By the way, it is the absence of Hyper-Threading support that determined the poor results of today’s third newcomer, Pentium G series, which was running very close to LGA775 Pentium solutions.
Besides pretty high performance for the mainstream market segment, new Core i5-600 and Core i3-500 processors boast pretty acceptable heat dissipation and power consumption. They are almost as energy-efficient as dual-core LGA775 CPUs, but the performance gain they provide is high enough to disregard the 10 watt increase in their thermal and energy parameters.
The new manufacturing process used for one of the two semiconductor dies inside Clarkdale processor, turned out great news for overclocking fans. The frequencies these new processors can hit have been pushed far beyond 4 GHz bar, which will most likely make Core i5 and Core i3 very popular among overclockers and enthusiasts.
Summing up everything we have just said, we can only state that the launch of new LGA1156 processors has significantly expanded the application field for this platform. It became a truly mainstream and universal platform, because now there are almost any kinds of LGA1156 processors available: starting with the cheapest ones and finishing with the most expensive solutions. And in all these price segments LGA1156 systems offer the today’s best combinations of consumer qualities. There is only one exception here. Unfortunately, LGA1156 mainboards have limited connectivity when it comes with multi-GPU configurations. The only way you can use two graphics cards in SLI or CrossFireX mode is by connecting them as PCI Express 8x + 8x. Triple and quad configurations are simply impossible on LGA1156 platforms at all. Therefore, LGA1366 platforms still remains very popular among the most dedicated gamers and enthusiasts who search for extreme performance at any rate.