July 13, 2006 will undoubtedly enter the world’s computer history as the arrival of revolutionary desktop processors with Intel Core microarchitecture. The thing is that this event is very meaningful for the entire market. This day has every chance to radically change the situation in the market, just like September 23, 2003, when AMD launched their Athlon 64 processors and thus turned into a technology leader. Intel that has been struggling with quite a bit of trouble caused by their NetBurst architecture during the past few years, has finally given up the idea of developing it any further and decided to return to the roots of things. Namely they will continue enhancing and developing their P6 architecture that was first introduced in Pentium Pro processors. Of course, it doesn’t mean that the new CPUs announced today are exactly like their predecessors. The microarchitecture has undergone significant changes and modifications since the first time they released it. It was first implemented in Pentium II processors, then in Pentium III, after that it migrated to the mobile Pentium M and Core Duo CPUs. Every first reincarnation of this microarchitecture acquired new features and improvements, in order to make it fit for the new processors.
Moreover, Core 2 Duo processors that are announced today should boost the desktop x86 processors performance quite tangibly. Intel engineers did a great job working on the new microarchitecture, and as a result, the new solutions can now boast a few truly remarkable advantages over the predecessors as well as competitors.
You can read more about the peculiarities and specifics of the Core microarchitecture used for Core 2 Duo processors also known as Conroe in our theoretical article called Getting Ready to Meet Intel Core 2 Duo: Core Microarchitecture Unleashed. Today I would only like to note that Core 2 Duo is the first x86 processors that can decode and execute 4 commands per clock cycle and moreover, process 128-bit SSE3 instructions without slowing down. These two advantages are the two major factors determining high performance of the new Core 2 Duo CPUs, which we have already seen in numerous previews posted on the web.
Moreover, I have to stress that Core 2 Duo processors can boast “truly” dual-core design. With a few allowances, Pentium D and Athlon 64 X2 can be characterized as a combination of two independent cores put together onto a single semiconductor die. The dual-core concept is much more in-depth in the new Intel CPUs. These processors features a single cache shared between the two cores, which has made data exchange between the cores much simpler. In particular, this solution allowed reducing the latencies when both cores work with the same set of data.
In other words, the focus is on the number of operations the Intel Core 2 Duo processors can perform per clock cycle. It means that Intel has finally terminated the failed “hunt for GHz” and is now betting on the processor efficiency. As a result, we can expect the new processors to be not only fast but also economical that logically follows from the fact that there are a lot of mobile solutions among their direct predecessors.
This article is going to be the first chapter in the series of works devoted to the practical analysis of the features and performance of the new promising solutions. I have to stress that, just like Intel, we decided to use a somewhat innovative approach to the practical tests of Core 2 Duo this time. Since the performance level of Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme has already been covered very well by our colleagues from other online resources, we decided to slightly postpone the tests of the top processor models from the new family. Instead we suggest taking a closer look at the performance and efficiency of the youngest Core 2 Duo model that is very likely to become even more popular than its elder brothers thanks to a very attractive and democratic price of $183. We are going to compare its performance with that of competitor’s solutions from the same price range and will pay special attention to overclocking as a very popular way of getting more performance for your buck. By the way, this allows us to introduce to you one more hero of the day: the new ASUS P5W DH Deluxe mainboard, one of the few platforms available in the today’s market that supports Core 2 Duo processors and boasts quite impressive set of overclocking friendly features.