Energy Efficiency: AMD vs. Intel
Buying a Core 2 processor with the L2 Stepping
It turns out that buying a Core 2 processor with a specific stepping is not as easy as it may seem. Here's what we did to simulate average customer behaviour: We ordered two Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 processors from a reputable online store. On March 22 2007 we received our two brand-new, boxed processors. One was an older B2 stepping, the other already used the newer L2 variant.
Our online shop of choice provided no additional information identifying the stepping we would be receiving before the order was placed. In other words, trying to shop for L2 stepping online is currently a matter of luck.
If you're set on getting the L2 stepping, we recommend going to your local brick-and-mortar store. There you'll be able to look at the parts in question and also get some advice from the salespeople.
The thing is, there's nothing stopping the online stores from giving us this information. In fact, they do - just after you've placed the order: For RMA purposes, online shops always specifically state the processor's serial number on any invoice they send out. So why can't these shops just provide this information (including the stepping) on their website to begin with, if all the information is already in the system anyway?
While a few online shops do provide this information, allowing buyers to specifically select a certain stepping, they tend to be among the pricier ones.
Since Intel does not give the more efficient processors their own designation, unlike AMD with its "EE" line, it seems likely that the L2 stepping is simply a product refinement or a tweak that was requested by OEMs, rather than a concerted green strategy. As such, Intel does not advertise these processors, meaning that the retail market is not the primary target and thus not as relevant to their advertising. However this may change in the future, as "green computing" becomes more popular.
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