Processors

SolutionBase: Surveying the dual-core processor landscape

Dual-core processors are almost standard equipment on laptops and desktops today. There are so many different kinds, however, that it can become confusing to understand how the processors differ. In this article, Greg Shultz outlines the differences.
This article is also available as a TechRepublic download.

With the release of Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system, chances are very good that you've been thinking about getting a new computer. Whether you're looking for a new desktop or a new laptop, you've undoubtedly encountered systems with dual-core processors from either Intel or AMD. At face value, the idea of getting a system with two processors rather than one sounds like a no-brainer, especially when the price is reasonable.

However, you'll quickly discover a bewildering number of brand names and model numbers attached to dual-core processors available from Intel and AMD. For example, Intel's dual-core brand names include: Pentium D, Pentium Extreme Edition, Core Duo, Core 2 Duo, and the Core 2 Extreme. In the AMD arena: Athlon 64 X2, Athlon 64 FX, and Turion 64 X2. That no-brainer can quickly turn into a big headache.

In this article, I'll provide you with a generalized overview of the dual-core processor brands from both Intel and AMD. As I do, I'll explain the differences in each to help in your purchase of a new PC with a dual-core processor.

The genesis of dual-core technology

The road to dual-core processors really began when Intel and AMD discovered that the goal of improving processor efficiency and performance by increasing the clock speeds towards the 3-GHz mark and beyond was actually having the opposite effect. The faster clock speeds were producing more heat and consuming more energy, both of which were hindering the efficiency and performance of the processors. Both companies realized that they needed to move towards dual-core processor technology in order to continue to improve processor performance.

Dual-core processors contain two processor cores on one chip; consequently, they can simultaneously perform calculations on two streams of data, which increases efficiency and speed when running multiple programs. This is especially true when running new, multi-threaded software, such as video and audio editing applications.

Intel's dual-core lineup

To dramatically mark their break into the new dual-core technology arena, Intel decided to abandon the Pentium brand name in favor of a brand name called Core. In developing the Core brand of processors, Intel took the low heat and low voltage technologies developed for its recent mobile processor, the Pentium M, along with the EM64T 64-bit architecture technology, and combined that with its newly developed dual-core technology.

When you begin looking at the Core processors, keep in mind that the clock speeds are down a bit from the Pentium line. This is because the Core technology focuses on improving performance per clock cycle rather than on improving performance by increasing clock cycles.

The Pentium dual-cores

Before inventing the Core technology, Intel experimented with making Pentium-based dual-core processors. In early 2005, Intel released Pentium D and Pentium Extreme, which are essentially made up of two Pentium 4 dies placed together in a single package. You can still purchase a computer with the Pentium D and Pentium Extreme processors; however, keep in mind that while these Pentium dual-core processors are very powerful, they still fall victim to the high-heat generation and high-energy consumption problems that the Core technology was designed to overcome.

Core Duo

Intel's first processor in the Core lineup is called the Core Duo. At the time of the Core Duo's release, Intel was still focusing on the Pentium D for desktop computers, so the Core Duo was designed specifically for mobile computers. While the Core Duo utilizes the low heat and low voltage technologies of the Core technology, it doesn't incorporate the EM64T 64-bit architecture technology. As such, it is a 32-bit processor, something you might want to take into consideration when evaluating your dual-core options.

As of this writing, the current crop of Core 2 Duo processor's model number system use the 2000 series; the higher the model number, the higher the clock speed. The model numbers also contain single-letter prefixes to designate the processor's power consumption. The letter "T" is used for the Standard versions, and indicates 31 watts. The letter "L" is used for the Low Voltage versions, and indicates 15 watts. The letter "U" is used for the Ultra Low Voltage versions, and indicates nine watts.

Specifications for the Core Duo processors are listed in Table A.

Table A

Intel's Core Duo processors

Model

Clock Speed

L2 Cache

Bus Speed

T2050

1.66 GHz

2 MB

533 MHz

T2250

1.73 GHz

2 MB

533 MHz

T2300E

1.66 GHz

2 MB

667 MHz

T2300

1.66 GHz

2 MB

667 MHz

T2400

1.83 GHz

2 MB

667 MHz

T2500

2.00 GHZ

2 MB

667 MHz

T2600

2.16 GHz

2 MB

667 MHz

T2700

2.33 GHz

2 MB

667 MHz

L2300

1.50 GHz

2 MB

667 MHz

L2400

1.66 GHz

2 MB

667 MHz

L2500

1.83 GHz

2 MB

667 MHz

U2400

1.06 GHz

2 MB

533 MHz

U2500

1.20 GHz

2 MB

533 MHz

Core Solo

When manufacturing the Core Duo processors, Intel encountered defects that rendered one of the two cores inoperable. Since one of the cores was perfectly functional, Intel decided to disable the second core and call the processor the Core Solo. Like the Core Duo, the Core Solo is used exclusively for mobile computers and is not a 64-bit processor.

Taking advantage of a manufacturing defect is nothing new: Intel took 486DX processors with defective Floating Point Unit components, renamed them a 486SX, and sold them as lower cost processors.

Table B lists members of the Core Solo family.

Table B

Intel's Core Solo processors

Model

Clock Speed

L2 Cache

Bus Speed

T1300

1.66 GHz

2 MB

667 MHz

T1350

1.86 GHz

2 MB

533 MHz

T1400

2.33 GHz

2 MB

667 MHz

U1300

1.06 GHz

2 MB

533 MHz

U1400

1.20 GHz

2 MB

533 MHz

Core 2 Duo

The Core 2 Duo is the second iteration of Intel's Core-branded dual-core processor and is probably the best choice when purchasing a PC with an Intel dual-core processor. The major difference between the Core Duo and the Core 2 Duo is this new version combines the dual-core technology with Intel's EM64T technology, making the Core 2 Duo a true 64-bit processor. Further differentiating the Core 2 Duo is that it is designed for both desktops and laptops.

As of this writing, the current crop of Core 2 Duo processor's model number system uses the 6000 series for desktops and the 5000 and 7000 series for laptops. The higher the model number, the higher the clock speed.

The model numbers also contain single-letter prefixes to designate the processor's power consumption. On desktops, the letter "E" is used, and it indicates 55-75 watts. On laptops, the letter "T" is used, and it indicates 25-55 watts.

Table C lists the members of the Core 2 Duo family.

Table C

Intel's Core 2 Duo processors

Model

Clock Speed

L2 Cache

Bus Speed

E6300

1.86 GHz

2 MB

1066 MHz

E6400

2.13 GHz

2 MB

1066 MHz

E6600

2.40 GHz

4 MB

1066 MHz

E6700

2.67 GHz

4 MB

1066 MHz

T5200

1.60 GHz

2 MB

533 MHz

T5500

1.66 GHz

2 MB

667 MHz

T5600

1.83 GHz

2 MB

667 MHz

T7200

2.00 GHZ

4 MB

667 MHz

T7400

2.16 GHz

4 MB

667 MHz

T7600

2.33 GHz

4 MB

667 MHz

Core 2 Extreme

The Core 2 Extreme is a version of the Intel's dual-core processor aimed at gamers and digital media creation professionals. It has a higher clock speed than the Core 2 Duo, a fully loaded L2 cache, and a host of other features specifically aimed at enhancing graphics, video, and animation. To take gaming or digital media creation up another level, there is also a quad-core processor version of the Core 2 Extreme with twice the L2 cache.

Table D lists the members of the Core 2 Extreme family.

Table D

Intel's Core 2 Extreme processors

Model

Clock Speed

L2 Cache

Bus Speed

X6800

2.93 GHz

4 MB

1066 MHz

QX6700

2.66 GHz

8 MB

1066 MHz

AMD's dual-core lineup

Like Intel, AMD has several processors in its dual-core lineup. However, before AMD made the move to dual-core processor technology, it focused on integrating 64-bit technology into the Athlon XP processors. In doing so, AMD was able to take into account the transition to dual-core processors earlier in the design process. The lineup of AMD's dual-core processors is much easier to analyze when compared to Intel's lineup.

Athlon 64 X2

Athlon 64 X2 is the brand name for AMD's line of 64-bit, dual-core processors for desktop computers. The model numbers and clock speeds associated with the Athlon 64 X2 processors are closely aligned with model numbers and clock speeds of previous Athlon 64 processors. This is due to the fact that AMD's transition from 64-bit processors to dual-core processors was better engineered.

As of this writing, the current crop of Athlon 64 X2 processor's model number system starts with 3800+ and move up to 5600+. The higher the model number, the higher the clock speed. You’ll find the members of the Athlon 64 X2 family in Table E.

Table E

Athlon 64 X2 processors

Model

Clock Speed

L2 Cache

Bus Speed

3800+

2.00 GHz

1 MB

2000 MHz

4200+

2.20 GHz

1 MB

2000 MHz

4400+

2.20 GHz

2 MB

2000 MHz

4600+

2.40 GHz

1 MB

2000 MHz

4800+

2.40 GHz

2 MB

2000 MHz

5000+

2.60 GHz

1 MB

2000 MHz

5200+

2.60 GHz

2 MB

2000 MHz

5400+

2.80 GHz

1 MB

2000 MHz

5600+

2.80 GHz

2 MB

2000 MHz

Athlon 64 FX

Athlon 64 FX is a version of the Athlon 64 processor aimed at gamers and digital media creation professionals. It has a higher clock speed than Athlon 64 X2, as well a host of other features specifically aimed at enhancing graphics, video, and animation.

Athlon 64 FX is available in dual- and quad-core versions: Athlon 64 FX-60 is the dual-core version; Athlon 64 FX-70, Athlon 64 FX-72, and Athlon 64 FX-74 are the quad-core versions. (Model details are shown in Table F.) The FX-70 series of processors are actually dual-core processors specifically designed to work together via what AMD is calling the AMD Quad FX platform, which includes a dual-socket motherboard featuring Dual Socket Direct Connect (DSDC) Architecture for high-bandwidth processor-to-processor communication.

Table F

AMD's Athlon 64 FX processors

Model

Clock Speed

L2 Cache

Bus Speed

FX-60

2.60 GHz

2 MB

2000 MHz

FX-70

2.60 GHz

2 MB

2000 MHz

FX-72

2.80 GHz

2 MB

2000 MHz

FX-74

3.00 GHz

2 MB

2000 MHz

Turion 64 X2

Turion 64 X2 is AMD's 64-bit, dual-core, low-power processor designed for laptops. As of this writing, the current crop of Turion 64 X2 processor's model number system consists of two letters followed by two numbers: They start with TL-50 and move up to TL-60 (shown in Table G). The letters designate the processor class and the degree of mobility features (power consumption and heat generation.) The higher the numbers, the higher the clock speed.

Table G

AMD's Turion 64 X2 processors

Model

Clock Speed

L2 Cache

Bus Speed

TL-50

1.60 GHz

512 KB

1600 MHz

TL-52

1.60 GHz

1 MB

1600 MHz

TL-56

1.80 GHz

1 MB

1600 MHz

TL-60

2.00 GHz

1 MB

1600 MHz

Moving forward

When you begin investigating the current crop of dual-core processors from Intel and AMD, it's easy to get confused by the various brand names and model numbers. In this article, I've presented you with a general overview of the dual-core technologies from Intel and AMD. Of course, there is a lot more to these dual-core processors than I've presented here; but, now you have a good basis on which to continue your analysis.

About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

54 comments
wilsonagu
wilsonagu

Why don't you update this excellent article?

jvhulst
jvhulst

Why no Intel Xeon CPUs are mentioned? I own a HP X4000 Workstation with 2 Xeon 2.0 Ghz. CPUs, each of them having 2 cores... I think the system was build in 2001, I bought it second-hand in 2004 and it outperforms my newer single-core Pentium IV 2.0 Ghz. by great margins. No wonder...

thephpdeveloper
thephpdeveloper

well, it's true with the release of Vista, im buying a new computer. so should i buy dual-core?

binarypc
binarypc

Did you just miss this one on your charts? It's been out for a while.

jcelko212
jcelko212

Where are the programming languages for this? I would love to have an SQL engine with parallelism, but I would also like to write it in a high level language. There is a good article in DR DOBB'S JOURNAL on coding for the IBM chip to do a depth-first search for a general graph. The program is much bigger than its mono-processor, but also much faster.

hamads
hamads

Three pages dedicated to the haphazard Intel engineering (including selling a defect called Core Solo) and just one page for the superior AMD 64bit processors. Why? AMD has been suprerior in design, engineering and execution. They have lower prices and more stable dual-core processors due to a more mature presence. Go to Tom's Hardware for an unbiased benchmark of processors and them compare the prices like-for-like. AMD uses less power and is more efficient per clock cycle. Intel has a long way to go to catch up.

hgladney
hgladney

Includes NO benchmark results!

leemond
leemond

One element touched on in this article was the current crop of quad core CPUs from AMD. I expect these may have appeared as they are essentially a pair of dual core chips in one package. But I also note one of the Core Extreme CPUs listed was a quad as well and only mentioned very briefly. Which is a shame, as this chip has some real potential for anyone who can make use of multi-core tech. The Core 2 Quad (previously known as Kentsfield), listed as the QX6700, is essentially a pair of Conroe's welded onto the same die. It's not as fast but when used with multi-threaded apps (or several apps at once) it's brilliant, and out-performs the AMD two-chip solution by a reasonable margin. To make the headache worse, AMD are almost due to hit the market with their Barcelona quad-core chip, which this time will be on one die. I expect AMD are pinning their hopes on their more elegant design to make some headway into the performance gap Intel have created with the Core 2 chips; I would expect the increased memory bandwidth available should give AMD the edge in multi-core solutions, but I guess we'll have to wait and see.

pkearns
pkearns

As you do for every new PC, buy (a) the PC that does the job you need today and (b) the latest technology you can afford for tomorrow's jobs.

jessechoward
jessechoward

I have run a few migrations from XP to Vista at work and you will definitely see the difference in a dual core processor. Especially if you want to use the Aero Glass theme. What it really comes down to is what do you want to pay for? Obviously AMD is cheaper but the performance difference is debatable. A few years ago this was not the case according to this article concerning Intel VS AMD in servers http://reviews.cnet.com/4520-10442_7-6389077-1.html however as mentioned above you are the real benchmark. My own personal opinion is that the cost savings with AMD allow you to add more RAM which will in the end make your life easier instead of fussing over which processor when in actuality they are too close to tell in normal everyday use..

robtec88
robtec88

It takes three pages to explain the current Intel naming scheme and only one for AMD. There wasn't any imbalance nor was this about CPU superiority and benchmarks. You sound like the some people on here that have to turn every Windows discussion into a "Linux/MAC is better" battle arena. The whole article was purely to explain the name designation of each CPU, currently offered in a desktop and laptop, with either an Intel or AMD CPU...nothing more - nothing less! Let it go

ajole
ajole

But I gotta say, my E6400 2.13GHz Intel Core2Duo is 10-20% faster than my 2.0GHz Athlon 3800X2 on everything I've tested it on. Though the Athlon CPU was half the cost... and I still like AMD better...

Craig_B
Craig_B

Yes the article give some tables to help do an Apples to Apples comparison and gives a little history but it still doesn't really help you select which CPU is best for various OS's, Applications, etc. If you want Benchmarks go over to TomsHardware.com, a great site.

wb4alm
wb4alm

Most benchmarks are misleading and can be minipulated by venders... ...a perfect illistration occurred many years ago, when a mainframe vender proved that the only reliable benchmark is "owned" and maintained by the end customer. With a very small change external change to the battery of tests (and one that sounded perfectly reasonable) we proved that a mainframe system with a 1-engine processor ("single core") and twice the instruction cycle time tested out to be 16-times faster that a 8-engine system that had a twice as fast instruction cycle time. The only really valid benchmark tests are when the system is used to ryn a series of tasks that are truely representative of the type of tasks that the customer will be using the system for - and this includes the amount of main memory, cache memory, disk drives, networking and the internal channels or drive paths that any drives are attached too. Even the type and number of monitors and how they are attached will have an effect. So did the author need to run benchmarks? In my opinion, NO!!! /s/ Bill Turner, wb4alm

joseph.r.piazza
joseph.r.piazza

You finally have an article that describes all of the chips and includes tables of each chip specifications.....that is great. When you looks at advertisments for PCs....and you all you see is the nomenclature or clock speed and speed is the same for multiple chips....you become confuse. So this article does the JOB and is NO Way disappointing.

PhilippeV
PhilippeV

Neither Vista or XP are effectively ready for 64-bit processing, but if you buy a PC today, you'll immediately (or very soon) experiment problems with the memory limitation with XP and Vista 32 bit versions; and anyway, if you choose XP or Vista 32-bit, because it is effectively ready to support all today's applications, the main problem is that Microsoft made the future migration to Vista 64 bit really too costly and difficult. So it's time to try something else that will effectively support 64-bit processing correctly and immediately. Time to go with Linux or some other flavor of Unix (say: BSD for x64, or Solaris for x64). The transition to Linux is now simpler and less costly than the transition to 64-bit Windows (which simply does not work today!) Really, Vista is just for upgrades of today's 32-bit processors, if you want to experiment with future migration to Vista for your future 64-bit system, when you'll need it, on a new PC. But immediately for new PCs, nobody should invest any cent with a Vista licence; and really, for new PC, never buy 32-bit Vista, this is juste waste of money, given the huge price and compatibility problems you'll have to pay to upgrade to 64-bit Vista tomorrow (within the price I don't only include the price of the expensive Vista licence, but also the migration of all other software licences for 64-bit). Really, the fact that Microsoft released Vista in two separate and incompatible versions between 32-bit ans 64-bit is a nightmare, and it is really the major reason why you should not use it, except for upgrading some older or existing PCs that really need that. It's not worth the effort! So consider the wellknown and well-supported Linux distribs, buy a OS-free PC (forget Dell!) and start now with Linux or Unix. if you want to wait, just start converting your apps to avoid MS-Office, and go with OpenOffice for easier adoption of linux tomorrow. Note: when seriously giving a chance to Linux, don't choose one of those free distribs, because they are patchworks with various pieces of untested software packed together, and they will be difficult to maintain; choose a serious Linux distributor that maintains a good history of versions and patches. Then look at how it is easy and smooth to perform updates (rather than complete upgrades every 2 years with Windows) on Linux and feel the security and cumfort you get for its installation and daily maintenance, plus the lots of possibility you get when you want to evolve with your existing system, at any time. Linux is really a time-saver, after the first-time setup, and you have lots of way to customize yyour setup with just the tools you need, and nothing more to pay for additional tools and options. And yes, in Linux, the transition from 32-bit to 64-bit is really easy because almost all what is working in 32-bit Linux is also available immediately in 64-bit Linux, allowing you to convert not only your new system but also to reuse your existing PC as a supplementary resource for your local network (efficient, file server, domain server, firewall, media server, webserver, application server, backup server... or even as a test machine before you update your new PC... Final note: your new PC running Linux can become a server for your existing desktop Windows PC. Administrating one or more Linux servers is MUCH simpler than administrating a central, complex, and costly Windows server. Additionally Linux allows much easier integration with the new efficient and cheap appliances, or with other systems like Macs. If some of your uysers are reluctant to Linux desktop, you can still consider going with MacOSX. And here again, your Linux environment will integrate those Macs much more easily than a Windows server! All is smoother in the Linux world (and the hardware requirement for Linux compatibility are much less difficult to achieve than with Vista, where so many components are not supported, even in 32-bit mode!)

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'm in the middle of flopping between two mobo for my new machine. From what I read, AM2 cpu will continue to be released for a while but AMD isn't really doing anything with multi-core on the AM2 socket. With Intel supporting socket 775 through more releases, I'll be able to upgrade the cpu for longer before needing to upgrade the mobo (and resulting holly trinity; board, brains and memory).

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

It's in the title....

huoml
huoml

why chip manufacturers produce chips that are so close in running frequency. e.g. Intel's T2050 (1.66GHz) and T2250 (1.73GHz), rest (bus speed and L2 cache) being same. I hope this is not because consumers are demanding a new chip with additional .07Ghz speed!

tossup
tossup

Sorry to have to say this, but single core systems are not dead, not by a long shot. Dual-core systems run at a slower clock rate (2.6 GHz at most) to prevent overheating. Single core systems can run at a much higher rate (3.8+ GHz). Therefore, if you really need the processor speed rather than the throughput, single core systems are still the more viable option. Yes, for Web servers and a large number of small tasks, I'd choose dual-core systems. However, for tasks such as databases and heavy computation, I'd still choose a box with multiple, single-core CPUs. My opinion has always and will continue to be this: just because new technology exists, that doesn't mean that it's appropriate for every task that needs to be performed. Never forget to do your system engineering trade studies to determine what works best for your needs.

Dmystify
Dmystify

I'm still using a 486/33 running Win 3.11 to maintain some legacy hardware/software, and will be for at least another year. Meanwhile, I also get to have the joy of maintaining every freaking version of M$ crap that's come down the pipe since then. I was better off w/RMX and writing my own system and app codes.

zilvinas
zilvinas

Really - what is "tomorrow's" jobs ?

pivert
pivert

you mean: show the bling bling of vista in a proper way :-) you could also train programmers to write leaner programs

pmshah
pmshah

They hardly mean much to the end user. They are like thoroughbred horse racing. Pipped by a nose. In most cases the PC will be waiting for the user & not the other way around. The applications that really stress the CPUs are in almost all cases creative type. Even if the user has all his ideas at hand he still needs to see the visuals before the next step & think. So even in such cases benchmark differences of a few percentage points don't mean much. What is important is future proofing your purchase.

rhomp2002
rhomp2002

Most of what I do is not concerned with CAD or photo or gaming. what would work best for them may not work best for me. As the old saying goes, horses for courses.

markinct
markinct

While I think benchmarks would be cool, I also think they would be in an article with a title like 'Comparing dual core processors', not 'Surveying the landscape'. Maybe a subsequent 'buyer's guide' type of column/article could address benchmarks...

claude_jones
claude_jones

Is there some reason for the exclusion of the duo-opt?

joseph.r.piazza
joseph.r.piazza

Intel has proven they are not concern with standardize names or nomenclature when it comes to their chips. As this article points out, the model numbers of the whole array of "dual core" chips is confusing, so thanks for the tables. But what finally sent me over the edge is the original Core Duo Processors; the letter "T" refers to standard power/wattage consumption and the letter "L" denotes low power/wattage consumption....more in line for Laptops. But, Intel in its Next generation chip "Core 2 duo? assigned the letter "E" for standard power consumption and the letter "T? for low power consumption., again suitable for laptops. Why would they use T for Low power when it was assigned for normal power before? Either: (1) They want to confuse YOU; (2) Basic Engineering principles of standardization and configuration management are meaningless to THEM or (3) Both (1) and (2) apply. If you are an engineer and you think about this....you have to have LESS respect for INTEL. Add the fact that a FAILED CHIP is sold as "CORE SOLO" design and you just have to be amazed...Could they NOT have absorb the lost and KILL the chip design and whatever units were produce!!!! Ponder and think and reject all job offers from Intel.

leemond
leemond

I see what you're saying, but why would you buy a new PC just to have it sit there and serve stuff? Waste of money if you ask me. I'd much rather use the new box and relegate the old one to the role of a server. (And yes, I did say "relegate". Unless you're in a business environment, a server is not a critical system and can run on anything which has just enough grunt to do what you need it to.) You also say about not using free Linux distros. Why not? What's wrong with the free version of SuSE, or Fedora which have been around for a long time and have a level of maturity which makes them more dependable than, say, Vista. The only real difference with the paid-for distros is that you get a box, manual and telephone support. And what's wrong with Ubuntu? I've not used it yet but I know people who have and they rave about it. That said, you are completely right: we shouldn't limit ourselves to whatever Microsoft throw at us - especially at THAT price, and especially considering Linux would probably give your current, outmoded single core system a new lease of life, thus keeping your money in your pocket for a bit longer.

vtassone
vtassone

How is it that every topic covered in this forum eventually gets converted to a Linux rant? How do you get from a dicussion of the new processors (that I really needed) to selling Linux. I've got nothing against Linux and I run it on one of my boxes, but I realized a long time ago that mom and pop, or Joe six pack are NEVER going to.

ajole
ajole

I had a board die, so I decided to upgrade, got a great combo deal and I bought an AM2 board and a 4GHz Athlon with the newer RAM, wasn't that impressed with the speed changes over the old Athlon CPU and DDR1 RAM, though it is better; and for the price, it was a good investment. But then I got some money to build a 2.0GHz Core 2 Duo system, which cost about $150 more than the Athlon, (for the "basically same" MoBo/CPU/RAM) but is definitely faster at everything I've measured on it, but when you just USE it, you don't really notice it being any faster. Cost about $150 more than the Athlon rig, but I'd say it is a good deal, as well, especially if you want to do video or other CPU intensive stuff. You just gotta bite the bullet, decide who gets your money, and make the move. More speed is the Intel, better price is the AMD. And unless you are doing real intensive stuff or measuring everything, you'll never really notice the speed difference.

robtec88
robtec88

The way I understand this is, Intel and AMD build their current CPU's to meet the highest speed they are currently able to run. Now, not all the CPU's are able to meet the 'burn in tests for the given top speed so they re-run the tests at the next multiplier step down and see if it passes. If it does then it packaged as the lower speed CPU. If it doesn't pass that test then they lower the multiplier one more step and retry. That's why you end up with many speed options on the same pin package. It's also the reason why overclocking is popular and also why 2 identical processors won't necessarily overclock to the same speed as one another. This way here, Intel and AMD aren't throwing away CPU's just because they can't pass the fastest speed they were designed for. I hope that sort of clears up the seemingly different CPU speeds when the rest of the CPU package (pin array, L2 cache and bus speed) are the same.

bmcswain
bmcswain

Since the first dual core processors showed up, I have been waiting for software that can utilize both processors, software that can move the workload around to the unused processor. I am sick and tired of seeing my dual processor maxed out on one processor and the other one loping along at 15%. I paid for 100% usage and it ain't happening. Software is needed to balance the load (i.e. "load balancing") but even our new choice of OS's, Vista, apparantly can correct this problem. So rather than upgrade, I am better off keeping my 4 year old AMD 2500+. It smokes my new dual core Acer laptop.

ssac
ssac

Unfortunately a higher clock speed does not necessarily mean faster processing, particularly with a dual core (remember that two processors are in action as opposed to just one!) It also depends on the application and the OS. Unless you're doing something specifically clock-based with a purpose-configured OS, dual core is definitely the way to go...

ceilo007
ceilo007

I borrowed my Bosses Vista Business and installed it on my AMD Athlon XP 1800+, which runs at 1.53 ghz. it has a 256 kb L2. my system also has 1 GB of DDR Ram which runs at PC 2100. My system actually runs fine. My Vista rating is a 2.6 because of my gaming graphics. MY system is running fine so i can believe how good a system with a processor that came out today would run. My processor came out, what 5 years ago.

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

Two years ago and loving my AMD, I didn't think my standard working setup at home would be two OS run along side the installed host OS. Here I am two years later running three OS in parrilell on a daily basis and dreaming of how many core Intel can squeeze into a single 775 die. I think the comment is sound advice; buy the hardware that will do what you want today, put any extra budget into early adopter hardware to overpower your machine to grow into what it'll do tomorrow. Today, I'm getting by with a single core under 2ghz. I'm needing a dual core with upgraded video for the functions my machine is underpowered but currently doing. I'm planning for the cpu socket that will support updated cpu for longer because I don't know what I'll be pusing my machine to do tomorrow. So the question should correctly remain unanswered; q. "What is tomorrow's jobs?" a. 'who knows, that's why you buy big when you can.'

hjk4300
hjk4300

you can still put a Xeon or Opteron into most desktop/workstation configs. Should have been included. And on benchmarks, it is all about the application, beyond the scope of this article. It makes for a nice teaser article though - so let's propose another, a shootout for the only 3 apps that really stress us at workstation level: CAD, gaming, and photo/video editing...

ajole
ajole

Although I am just guessing at their reason; that would make sense for why they left out the Opt as well the Xeon.

joseph.r.piazza
joseph.r.piazza

Thanks for the reply. Yes I know it is a perfect engineering Econimics decision.....I just let my anger get in the way.

VBJackson
VBJackson

I would agree that using a T prefix for standard power CPUs for the Duo processor line, and then using the same prefix for low power processors in the Duo2 line is a poor choice, that is as far as I would go. If one core passes QC and the other fails it is just good business practice disable the failed core and sell the processor if possible. Processors have millions of transistors, and the failure of just one will disable the whole core. The amazing thing is that they are able to make functioning processors of that complexity at all. And talking about scrapping the whole design because they have failures that are weeded out in QC is absurd. I studied IC design at Purdue, and I can tell you that it is a massive, delicate, and time consuming process. As for rejecting a job offer from them, I am now a software consultant - but if I had a chance to join one of thier desing teams I would jump on it in a heartbeat!

ajole
ajole

If you have a product that works at some level, you sell it. The fact that one side failed doesn't matter, as long as the thing does compute and customers still are willing to buy the part that does work. You might complain about the ethics of not making it more widely known, but again, that's business. But I share your impressions of their nomenclature, what a mess.

pmshah
pmshah

There are a number of freeware Linux distros that will more than suffice for mom & pop & Joe six pack. All that my wife needs to do on the PC is check her email & chat & talk with my daughters in US over Skype. She does occasionally do a bit of surfing. She IS prone to getting virus/spyware on the machine by clicking on some not too safe links in the email she gets. I have setup a multi session live Puppy CD for her. Created single click links for her to access email & Skype server to meet her requirements. I am pretty sure the included software that can handle .xls, .doc files will suffice for all the moms & dads of this world. The best part is for the price of one of these windows OSes you can get a brand new very decent complete PC, OS included. At least we do here in India. Why don't you check it out & convince yourself?

ajole
ajole

Doesn't it suck that you can almost make two separate systems that are made for separate but specific jobs, cheaper than you can do one that is as good at both jobs? But as you said, at least it keeps you ahead of the curve for a little longer... Have fun!

Neon Samurai
Neon Samurai

I'll admit it. My initial search lead me to the Asus Crosshair and now on to the Striker Extreme. Only two pci slots sucks but I can't give up the read post LCD, daul gigabit lan and ddr2 800mhz. If it's enough to support a singline GPU only pushing 1280x1024 with a free pci slot for a hauppage tv tuner then I'm good. I may even go with onboard sound instead of a Blaster X-fi if Linux has support by then. I'm motivated partly by the desire to see modern games with more than four year old graphics, partyly by the desire to run multiple OS through multiple cores and partly to see what newer hardware can really do. I'm getting stuck with the premium priced gamer's mobo but this isn't the every-other-year-upgrade and I'll have a few years extra with cpu upgrades before a new socket forces the holly trinity upgrade again.

IAM.CA
IAM.CA

That is also why the E6300 and E6400 only have 2MB of L2 Cache instead of 4MB. The same thing occurrs in graphics processors with disabling parts that fail a test and selling a limited version as a different model number.

huoml
huoml

I guess, eventually it boils down to having minimum number of 'wasted' CPUs from production run.

Pringles86
Pringles86

What are the specs of your computer? RAM, Graphics Card, CPU, Version of Vista, etc... Also, maybe it isn't so much of "Dell junkware", but more of "Microsoft's junkware" (Vista), that is causing the problem?

tony.maine
tony.maine

I have just got a Dell Inspiron laptop running Vista and it is the slowest computer I have ever seen, though I have hardly ever seen the System Idle process at less than 90%. Why have GHz computing speed if there are so many delays and timeouts in the software, or is it just so full of Dell junkware that it is effectively paralysed? I would LOVE to uninstall as many of the processes as I can without crashing Vista but where can I find which ones can safely go and which ones must stay?

Greg Shultz
Greg Shultz

If you're having problems getting your software to take advantage of both your processors, then you need to investigate my article Automatically set Processor Affinity in Windows XP Professional http://articles.techrepublic.com.com/5100-10877_11-6168870.html to learn about THG Task Assignment Manager and the other programs that are suggested by readers in that article's discussion area.

rkuhn040172
rkuhn040172

I'd love to see you prove that statement.

IAM.CA
IAM.CA

Also, the efficiency of the processor makes a huge difference. AMD has known that for a long time and for a while was outperforming Intel - clock for clock. Intel has finally realized that more effiecient processors are necessary as there are limits to how high they can clock them, and are now outperforming AMD at the same clock speed. A Core 2 E6600 processor running at 2.4 GHz will run circles around a P4 670 running at 3.8GHz even in single threaded applications.

w2ktechman
w2ktechman

you have never made a spelling error? Just because of an occasional error you will not take advice? Even if it sounds like good advice that many follow already? How sad is that? My guess is that you are a mediocre tech at best

skadankthis
skadankthis

I would never take tech advice from someone who cannot spell or who does not have a grasp of the english language.

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