This year has already brought us a lot of exciting hi-tech things, not the least interesting of which is the new mobile computing platform from Intel, previously known under the codename of Napa. Following the established tradition, the platform includes three components: central processor, chipset, and Wi-Fi adapter.
The most thrilling thing about the new platform is that it incorporates the world’s first dual-core mobile processor on the Yonah core, which is manufactured on 65nm tech process and contains 151.6 million transistors. So, the Pentium M brand is now being replaced with Intel Core Duo. The system bus frequency has increased by 133MHz over the Pentium M’s, to 667MHz. The processor still has 478 pins, but the sockets are made incompatible both electrically and mechanically so that you didn’t have a chance to burn your new Core Duo by trying to upgrade from your old Pentium M.
A shared L2 cache looks a very promising solution in the new processor. In desktop dual-core processors each core has a dedicated L2 cache and this raises the data coherency problem when both the cores are processing the same data. Desktop CPUs with a shared L2 cache are expected to arrive by the end of Q2, so this feature is currently available to notebook users only. The maximum frequency in the Core Duo series is 2.23GHz which is 0.03GHz lower than that in the Pentium M series, but models clocked at 2.33GHz and 2.5GHz are coming up soon. The bottom CPU frequency in the power-saving mode is 1GHz. Support for the third SSE set consisting of thirteen SIMD instructions has been added for more performance in games and multimedia applications.
The processor’s power-related characteristics have also been improved, and Intel’s engineers paid more attention to them than they had done when developing the Centrino-Sonoma platform. Besides the traditional Enhanced Intel SpeedStep technology which allows the software and the notebook’s BIOS to reduce the CPU clock rate at low loads, there is now Dynamic Power Coordination technology whose point is in adjusting the power consumption of each of the execution cores depending on the current CPU load. A situation is possible when one core is under full load while the other is in Deep Sleep, i.e. in a state of minimum consumption. The second core returns to work when needed. This feature is referred to as Dual-Core Performance on Demand. The processor’s cache memory occupies quite a lot of space in the die, so Intel has implemented Dynamic Cache Sizing technology which means that idle sections of the cache can be just powered off.
Intel Core Duo
Besides the dual-core models Intel is also offering a single-core version of the processor, called Core Solo, which features all the mentioned innovations, too. But today we are interested in dual-core processors as we’ve got two ASUS V6J (V6X00J) notebooks with such CPUs working at 1.66GHz and 1.83GHz. The processors are marked as T2300 and T2400. The letter T denotes an ordinary level of heat dissipation (for the Core Duo, it is 31 watts), the digit 2 means two execution cores, and the remaining three digits denote the processor’s relative performance in its class.
And now let’s see what the ASUS V6J (V6X00J) looks like and how it is configured. The two samples of the notebook are almost identical with very minor differences in appearance and configuration (they have different CPU and graphics core, to be exact). Our ASUS V6J (V6X00J) with a 1.66GHz CPU is an off-the-shelf sample and I’m going to describe its accessories in the appropriate part of the review. The notebook with a 1.83GHz CPU is an engineering sample we received for testing purposes. The performance of the two samples will be compared in the Tests section.