Preview: Tom's Hardware benchmarks Intel's first quad-core "Kentsfield"

Culver City (CA) - Intel's first quad-core processor "Kentsfield" has found its way into the Tom's Hardware test lab. Several weeks before Intel will provide evaluation processors to the press, Tom's Hardware was able to obtain a qualification sample: The quad-core was sent through the entire test parcours and showed impressive performance.

By the end of this year, four cores will have replaced dual-core systems on the very high-end of enthusiast systems. AMD will be offering its 4x4 platform that enables the use of two dual-core processor and Intel will be first to offer a quad-core processor: Code-named "Kentsfield," the CPU was demonstrated first at this year's Spring IDF. Intel originally planned to launch the CPU in Q1 of 2007, but informed press and analysts during the Q2 earnings conference call that it will be introducing the chip for a late 2006 availability.

Details about the chip have been scarce. So far, Intel has declined to release specifications and performance data, but industry sources recently indicated that the processor will be clocked with 2.67 GHz and run on a 1066 MHz FSB. Since the CPU combines two Conroe dual-core chips, the chip will carry 2 x 4 MB L2 cache; Kentsfield will be a Conroe "drop-in" chip and work with the 965 and 975 series chipsets on today's Core 2 Duo motherboards.

Intel demonstrated an early version of Kentsfield at this year's Spring IDF

Intel is expected to offer press and analysts first access to the quad-core CPU at the Fall IDF, which will be held from 26 - 28 September in San Francisco. However, a so called qualification sample of the chip was provided by industry sources to Tom's Hardware's test engineers who did not waste any time to benchmark the processor.

Kentsfield, which industry sources refer to as "Core 2 Quadro," arrived as a 2.67 GHz version with a 266 MHz/1066 MHz FSB. The test engineers were able to adjust the FSB to 1333 MHz - which is still supported by the 975X chipset - and overclock the CPU by about 25%. The benchmarks were conducted with clock speeds ranging from 2.0 GHz to 3.33 GHz.

Kentsfield easily shattered previous benchmarks records and highlighted its horsepower especially in threaded applications such as audio and video processing. The chip was able to set new record levels in traditional benchmarks such as 3DMark 05 and 3DMark 06 as well. Overall, Kentsfield turned out to be about twice as fast as the Pentium EE 965, while consuming about the same power. And while power consumption is up significantly from the Core 2 Extreme, the chip still undercuts the Pentium EE 840.

Tom's Hardware will publish the full article with technical details and the complete benchmark result on Monday, 11 September.

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