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So, Intel made another strong evolutionary move forward having prepared the launch of new Penryn processors with 45nm cores. Mastering new production technology alongside with introducing new SSE4 instructions, increasing the L2 cache and making other micro-architectural improvements allowed them to raise the processor performance by another few percent without increasing the clock frequency. Moreover, at the same time Intel engineers managed to reduce the new processors’ heat dissipation and power consumption although even their predecessors were quite economical already. The frequency potential has also grown a lot, which will please numerous overclocking fans.

As a result, Penryn processors make extremely good impression overall, they are far better than any of the currently existing desktop solutions from all standpoints. In fact, the only drawback of the newcomers is their absence in stores at this time. And the only processor that you will be able to purchase this year will be only the fastest and unjustifiably expensive Core 2 Extreme QX9650.

The market expansion of Yorkfield and Wolfdale complete lineups is expected to hit only in the beginning of next year. But at that time they will have to compete not only with their obviously slower predecessors, but also with the new AMD CPUs. We don’t know what the outcome of this rivalry will be; however, we don’t have even the slightest doubt that Intel is armed and ready for the launch of the competing Phenom processor family.

In conclusion I would like to point out only curious fact. Although for almost one a half years since the first CPUs on Core micro-architecture appeared and until today we have been talking of good frequency potential Core 2 cores have, Intel doesn’t hurry to raise the clock speeds of its new processors. Core 2 Extreme Q6800 processor launched in July 2006 worked at 2.93GHz, and the new Core 2 Extreme QX9650 launching officially in two weeks will work at the nominal speed of 3.0GHz. All this time the performance of Intel processors for enthusiasts increased totally thanks to other things: more processor cores, system bus overclocking, micro-architectural enhancements. Therefore, we get the feeling that Intel doesn’t speed up its CPUs on purpose, because there is simply no competition in the high-end market these days. Next year will show if this supposition is true, when AMD hopefully releases some new solutions to oppose the fast quad-core Intel CPUs. Anyway, the year 2008 promises to be extremely exciting.

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