Santa Clara (CA) - Intel today gave yet another glimpse of the capability of its soon-to-be-launched Core microarchitecture. While the processor will launch at 2.93 GHz, Intel shows the CPU already running at significantly higher speeds. Perhaps most interesting is the chip's lower than expected power consumption - which may give Intel enough headroom to break the 4 GHz barrier.
So, we have learned that it is not just Gigahertz or a platform that makes a great processor, but rather the performance-per-watt discipline. We also know that it's not just the clock speed that determines the performance of a chip. For example, widened pipelines, L2 cache and memory controllers play into that game as well. But don't expect the Gigahertz race to be over just yet - at least not on the high-end.
Sources told TG Daily that Core 2 Extreme is capable of breaking the 4 GHz barrier, while it is unclear, if off-the-shelf dual-core Core 2 processors (Conroe core) will ever reach that level as the quad-core desktop processor "Kentsfield" is on track to debut in Q1 2007. Intel today confirmed that Core 2 Extreme will launch with 2.93 GHz/FSB1066 next month and will be available with 3.2 GHz by the end of the year. At a presentation today in Santa Clara, Calif., the firm also demonstrated an overclocked version 3.5 GHz that, according to Intel, offers "impressive performance."
3.5 GHz and more may not be an unrealistic level for overclocked Core 2 Extreme processors - in fact, the processor may scale very well beyond that right from the start and without any extreme cooling requirements. One reason for that is the Core 2 Extreme's very low power consumption: Compared to AMD's current flagship, the 2.8 GHz Athlon64 FX-62, which is rated at a thermal design power of 125 watts, the Core 2 Extreme will consume a maximum of just 75 watts, according to Intel.
In that respect, we hear that a 4 GHz Conroe may consume about as much power as the current Netburst generation, which tops out at more than 130 watts. However, the performance gain for overclockers may be worth to sacrifice the power savings: Intel today claims that a 2.66 GHz Conroe processor will outrun a 2.6 GHz Athlon64 FX-60 by about 20%. The 2.93 GHz Extreme version will provide another 20% in added performance, Intel claims. Add to that equation an overclockable chip with 20 or 30% headroom and Intel may have a chip at hand that can cause more than just headaches for rival AMD.
AMD isn't standing still either. The company is expected to unveil details of its 2007-2008 roadmap and we would not be surprised, if the company had a compelling answer to counter Intel's Core 2 Extreme.