Core Microarchitecture for Desktops: Core 2 Duo CPUs
Now that we have discussed all the major peculiarities of the new Core Microarchitecture from the theoretical prospective, let’s try to find out what we are going to achieve if we have this microarchitecture in actual desktop platforms.
Conroe processors that represent the desktop implementation of Core Microarchitecture are expected to come out in the end of July. The official name of the Conroe processors is Core 2 Duo. Of course, this name points out very clearly that these CPUs belong to the new progressive microarchitecture.
I have to stress that Intel is going to be very aggressive about getting good sales of the new processors in order to avoid being called “paper launch” right before the very active “back-to-school” sales season. On the launch date not only Intel’s leading partners announce the availability of their solutions based on the new microarchitecture, but even the end-users will be able to buy a long-awaited CPU in stores. I don’t think we should doubt Intel’s ability to meet this schedule: the company already has quite a few samples available, which indicates that there are hardly any architectural or production issues that could slow down Conroe’s coming to the market. Especially, since Conroe processors will be manufactured with well-debugged P1264 65nm technology. In other words, they will continue using the same technology.
The first Core 2 Duo processors that we will see in the market, will features 2MB or 4MB of L2 cache memory shared between the two cores. At first their frequencies will start with 1.86GHz and reach 2.93GHz for the top models. Later on, as they conquer more market share, the clock speed range of the product family will be expanded both ways.
CPUs on Core Microarchitecture will use Quad Pumped Bus that has already proven very efficient for all market segments. Core 2 Duo processors will have this bus working at 1067MHz at least at first. Of course, Intel couldn’t experiment with new processor packaging because of the old bus they used. Therefore, Conroe will be manufactured in the same LGA775 package, just like today’s Pentium 4 and Pentium D CPUs.
However, the use of the same packaging doesn’t automatically imply that the CPUs will be compatible with the older mainboards. The mainboard will have to allow clocking front side bus at 1067MHz to support the new Core 2 Duo processors. But this will not be all. Besides that, the mainboard will feature a new voltage regulator unit (VRM 11). That is why the manufacturers will have to make new mainboard modifications based on Intel 975X Express, Intel P965 Express, Nvidia nForce 5XX Intel Edition chipsets or ATI Xpress 3200 Intel Edition.
Core 2 Duo processor rating will be formed the same way as the rating of mobile Core Duo CPUs. It will look like EXXXX with the letter “E” indicates that the product belongs to the desktop family and the next 4-digit number reflects the performance level and technical advancement of the solution.
Note that Core 2 Duo family will also have an “Extreme Edition” model. This CPU will be called Core 2 Extreme and its rating will look like XXXXX. The main difference between the Core 2 Extreme and Core 2 Duo (besides the extremely high price) will be its higher clock speed.
By the launch date the Conroe processor family will look as follows:
Core 2 Extreme X6800
Core 2 Duo E6700
Core 2 Duo E6600
Core 2 Duo E6400
Core 2 Duo E6300