The Pentium D: Intel's Dual Core Silver Bullet Previewed

Intel's Changed Information Strategy

This is an overview of all multi core projects Intel is working on. Source: Intel.

Back at the Intel Developer Forum last month, Intel showed off a considerable number of dual core processor machines. In addition, the firm spoke with atypical directness about future products and technologies. The information they provided was so extensive that we were able to anticipate what the dual core machines would be like and began to plan a machine to use for our preview. However, Intel supplied us with a complete test system, which made our efforts in putting together our own dual core technology preview system obsolete.

However, our preparatory work was not in vain, since having access to systems from different sources makes it possible to compare test results. In addition, the high availability makes it pretty clear that Intel is working vehemently on introducing dual core technology to the mainstream.

Sorry Guys, Clock Speed Does Matter!

Of course, one can't help but wonder why Intel finally decided to make this change. From a technology point of view, dual core desktop products are ready, so the impetus here might be pressure from the competition.

Let's go back to performance levels at non-thread-optimized applications (e.g. games), since they will remain the driving force for upping processor performance for many months. In this sector, AMD scores better than Intel, with the Athlon 64 3800+ and 4000+ at 2.4 GHz keeping pace with any Pentium 4 processor, and even overtaking them in certain areas. In addition, AMD's energy management system, Cool & Quiet, is more efficient, since the core clock is reduced to as little as 800 MHz whenever performance is not required. In contrast, Intel remains at 2.8 GHz for "political reasons."

According to our information, Intel likely won't provide dual core Smithfield processors exceeding 3.2 GHz, as higher clock speeds would blast the 130 W thermal envelope of Intel's 2005 platform. This represents a reduction in basic clock speed of 600 MHz from the 3.8 GHz single CPU maximum. The interesting thing is that AMD's dual core Toledo samples have been seen at up to 2.4 GHz, which is pretty much the level an AMD desktop single core runs today (except for the FX-55). If AMD really managed to introduce a dual core that runs at close to or the same clock speed as its single core versions, it would likely outperform Intel's dual core portfolio in all areas. In addition, Intel requires a new platform and DDR2-667 memory, while AMD could wrangle impressive performance that is upgradeable to Socket 939 systems with only the addition of DDR400 SDRAM.

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  • How much can the Extreme Edition be had for now? $40? Sounds like a deal to me. Although, older, hotter, and slower in the long run. Best bet now. No?
  • I'd just go AMD or Core 2, the former having a much lower power draw and great overclocking potential than what you have here. My relative used to run Intel Extreme Editions like this, and the power draw was immense, he had to use water cooling. In the end he ditched it and got AMD. Not trying to say one is better than the other all the time (ie for media encoding the Intel was great), just some ideas to consider. Cheap dual-core AMD's based on AM2 are hard to beat at the moment.