Intel Core 2: Better than AMD

ExtremeTech reviews the new Core 2 Duo E6700 and Core 2 Extreme X6800 (codenamed Conroe), Intel’s new set of processors for the desktop market. Core 2 promises efficiency improvements over the previous iteration of Intel desktop processors. Looks like they’re no longer fighting the Megahertz wars. These days it’s a question of the efficiency of a processor in terms of how it processes data and how much power it uses.

Core 2 owes much of its heritage to the Intel’s mobile Pentium M processor line. The first iteration of that architecture, known as Banias, was the creation of Intel’s Israeli design team. But Core 2 isn’t just another iteration of the Pentium M. Instead, it steals a little from the old NetBurst architecture and adds enhancements of its own.

The net result is a processor with a substantially shorter instruction pipeline than NetBurst (Intel’s name for the architecture of the Pentium 4 and Pentium D processors.) In Core 2, substantially more instructions are executed per clock cycle, so even though Core 2 processors run at a lower clock frequency than previous Intel desktop lines, they run applications faster. Core 2 is also more power efficient: Intel’s goals for the mainstream CPU is to maintain 65W, versus the 90W to 95W of the mainstream Pentium Ds or the 130W of the high-end Pentium D 940 or Extreme Edition CPUs.

Comparing the Core 2 against AMD’s Athlon 64 FX-62, in application, content creation and gaming benchmarks, the new Intel chips come out as the winner.

Core 2 looks like a winner, and will likely be the shiny new bauble that performance enthusiasts love to have dangled in front of them. We’re certainly impressed with what we’ve seenâ??high performance and low power utilization. And while Core 2 Extreme is pricey, the E6700 demonstrates that it’s no slouch, either.

Looks like it’s going to be a good year for Intel. Especially with Vista just around the corner, enthusiasts and casual users alike would have something to look forward to. The Core 2 is not cheap, though–the 2.66GHz E6700 costs $530 and the 2.93 GHz X6800 $999.

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