Intel Core 2, is that the same as Intel core duo? Not really…

As some of you know, Intel is releasing a new family of processors, the « Core 2 ». Here is a short explaination of what it is exactly.

Intel made several families of microprocessors:
– Pentium
– Pentium II
– Pentium 3
– Pentium 4
– Pentium M (for laptops, also known as Centrino)
– Intel Core
– Intel Core 2

These are families, based on different micro-architectures.
In 2000, Intel introduced the new P4, a completely new processor family, with a new micro-architecture called NetBurst. It was designed to be able to go very high in frequency. At the expense of a bad instruction/cycle rate. This had also the drawback that it used a lot of power, since the frequency was very high (as high as 4GHz). And also become very hot, needing BIG fans to cool it.

In parallel, Intel developped its Pentium 3 processor into the Pentium M, known as Centrino, for laptops. The P4 used too much power for laptops, so Intel used that good old P3 and redesigned it to be very power efficient.

Intel also has the Xeon family of processors, used in servers. It is based on the P4 design. The differences between a P4 and a P4 Xeon is the quantity of cache memory on the processor chip and the ability to be run as multi-processors.

Then Intel unveiled the « Intel Core » processors, which is a Pentium-M (aka Centrino) redesigned to be more powerful. They were used in laptops, but also in desktops, for not too demanding applications. Apple Intel based Macs use the « Intel Core » processors. These processors are available in 2 flavors:
– Intel Core Solo : 1 processor
– Intel Core Duo : 2 processors
The DUO is just like a Dual-processor computer (it’s like having 2 « Core Solo » processors), but the 2 processors are in the same chip (In the same piece of silicon).

So Intel has 3 lines of processors:
– Desktops (P4)
– Laptops (Centrino)
– Servers (P4 Xeon)

Since 3 years, AMD, the other microprocessor firm, has the lead in performance over Intel, with its Opteron and Athlon64 series of processors. They are more powerful, and use less power to do it. That’s all that companies want for servers. Less power means less climatisation and smaller power bill at the end of month! And that’s also all that gamers want for best FPS in games! So AMD got +16% market share from Intel last year only!
AMD has the lead in servers and desktops computers, but are quite insignifiant in laptops.

But now, Intel strikes back! They unveil the « Core 2 » microarchitecture. This is not the same as « Core Duo », this is a new architecture based on the « Intel Core ». So you have:
Intel Core
Core Solo (One « Intel core » processor)
Core Duo (Two « Intel core » processors)
Intel Core 2
Core 2 Solo (One « Intel core 2 » processor)
Core 2 Duo (Two « Intel core 2 » processors)

These processors are designed to get the lead back from AMD. After the first benchmarks (based on Games like Quake or UnrealTournament), they seem to be around 30% faster that AMD Athlon64 at the same clock speed! Done by independent reviewers of course:

« Core 2 » processors are declined in 3 versions:
– Laptops (Code name Merom)
– Desktops (Code name Conroe)
– Servers (Code name Woodcrest)
They are all based on « Core 2 » architecture, and they all come in Solo or Duo versions (which is 1 or 2 processors on the same chip). Core 2 processors are available now for Desktops and Servers, while laptops ones will arrive in september.

Voila. The goal of this (lengthy) mail was to explain that « Core 2 » and « Core Duo » are not the same thing as a lot of people tend to believe.

See you.

Jean-Eric Cuendet
Perso :

One Response to Intel Core 2, is that the same as Intel core duo? Not really…

  1. akosma dit :

    Four-core « Yorkfield » is coming in the second semester of 2007:

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