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  Intel's Core 2 Duo processors, leveling the playing field. 
  Jul 14, 2006, 09:30am EDT 


By: Sander Sassen

It has been out of character for Intel to comment on the performance of unreleased products, let alone make their prospective customers privy to what is in store by disclosing pre-release benchmarks. Nevertheless they did just that with Conroe, the codename for Intelís new Core 2 processors, which is based on a new architecture. If the pre-release benchmarks were an indication of prospective performance then Intel certainly managed to get back into the game, with a rather impressive display of performance by the looks of it.

In the past two and a half years Intel has npt been able to release a desktop processor that could keep pace with AMD's offerings, despite the huge clock speed advantage some of these processors offered. Not only did Intel's Pentium 4 and Pentium D processors come up wanting in the performance department, they also consumed a hefty amount of power making them the hottest desktop processors to date, hence a challenge to keep them running cool and reliably. This did not bode well for Intel, as AMD's processors did not run as hot and certainly bested them by considerable margins in terms of performance, hence for many people and businesses alike AMD became the obvious number one choice.

Intel's new Core 2 processor finally does away with the Netburst architecture that debuted with the introduction of the Pentium 4 and which has been the driving force behind all Intel processors to date. The same design team that worked miracles with Intel's mobile Centrino platform, which has been awarded for its winning combination of performance, clock speed and power consumption, signed up for the design of the Core 2 processor. And they certainly did not disappoint with the new Core 2 processor; combining all of the good bits of the Pentium M and first generation Core Duo processor.

The Core 2 processor is their greatest achievement yet, and is based on an architecture that makes us forget all about Netburst and the fact that Intel seemed lost for the past two and a half years. With the introduction of the new Core 2 processor Intel not just leveled the playing field, they introduced a new architecture that offers the best performance per watt and also the best performance to date. In the next few pages we will explore just how large of a performance gap there is between Intel's Core 2 processors, previous Netburst Intel processors and AMD's offerings.

1. Introduction
2. Core 2 Duo Internals
3. Core 2 Duo Testing
4. Conclusion

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