Core Duo Macs

When Apple made the switch from PowerPC CPUs to Intel in 2006, the state-of-the-art CPU was Intel’s Core Duo processor, which was based on Intel’s 32-bit Pentium M architecture, which was originally designed for mobile use. The Core Duo was Intel’s first dual-core mobile processor, and it was used in all first generation Intel Macs save one, the single-core Mac mini Core Solo.

Code named Yonah, the first generation of Intel Core processors came in single- and dual-core versions; the Core Solo is identical to the Core Duo except that it has one of its two processor cores disabled. There is speculation that Intel did this to unload CPUs with a defect in just one core. Apple used the Core Solo CPU only in the 1.66 GHz Mac mini.

One of the key design requirements of Core Duo was low power consumption, with a target draw of 25 Watts or less, although the top-end 2.16 GHz Core Duo ended up consuming 31 Watts. The Yonah processors use a 65 nm process and have a 2 MB level 2 cache, which is shared by both cores in the Core Duo processor. It accesses system memory using a 667 MHz data bus.

Going forward, Macs based on the original Core architecture had two significant drawbacks – they can only support up to 2 GB of memory and can only run in 32-bit mode, which means that they were left behind when Apple released OS X 10.7 Lion, a 64-bit only operating system, in July 2011.

Some Mac mini and iMac users have successfully replaced their CPUs with Core 2 Duo CPUs, which support 64-bit operation, but the standard firmware is strictly 32-bit.

In order of introduction, the Core Duo Macs are:

  1. Early 2006 iMac, 1.83 & 2.0 GHz, introduced January 10, 2006
  2. Early 2006 15″ MacBook Pro, 1.83, 2.0, & 2.16 GHz, January 10, 2006
  3. Early 2006 Mac mini, 1.5 GHz Solo & 1.66 GHz Duo, February 28, 2006
  4. Early 2006 17″ MacBook Pro, 2.16 GHz, April 24, 2006
  5. Mid 2006 MacBook, 1.83 & 2.0 GHz, May 16, 2006
  6. Mid 2006 17″ iMac (Education), 1.83 GHz, July 5, 2006
  7. Late 2006 Mac mini, 1.66 & 1.83 GHz, September 6, 2006

The consumer MacBook and Mac mini models use Intel GMA 950 graphics that share system memory, while the MacBook Pro and iMac models have dedicated Radeon X1600 graphics with their own dedicated video memory. The GMA 950 graphics processor runs at 400 MHz and doesn’t have a lot of the more advanced features (hardware transform and lighting, advanced vertex shaders) found in most graphics chips of the era. The Radeon X1600 is far better for 3D gaming and handling video codecs, especially at higher resolutions.

Keywords: #coreduo #yonah

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