The Macintel Report

Core 2 'World's Best Processor', but When Will It Come to the Mac?

Compiled by Charles Moore and edited by Dan Knight - 2006.08.03

This Week's Macintel News

Intel claims to have the "world's best processors" for personal computing with their Core 2 family, and The Register's comparison with AMD's Athlon 64 seems to bear up that claim.

The new chips begin shipping this month, and we'll undoubtedly see new desktop and notebook PCs with Core 2 by the end of the month. Apple moving to Core 2 in the iMac and MacBook Pro would be a good way to differentiate their midrange models from the entry level Mac mini and MacBook. It's just a question of when, and our guess is that Apple will move the MacBook Pro and iMac to Core 2 at the same time it announces the Power Mac replacement.

PowerBook, iBook, and other portable computing news is covered in The 'Book Review. General Apple and Mac desktop news is covered in The Mac News Review.

Intel Unveils Core 2: 'World's Best Processors'

PR: Intel Corporation today unveiled 10 Intel Core 2 Duo and Intel Core 2 Extreme processors for consumer and business desktop and laptop PCs and workstations, reshaping how computers perform, look and consume power - and most importantly - transform how people use them.

"The Core 2 Duo processors are simply the best processors in the world," said Paul Otellini, president and CEO of Intel. "Not since Intel introduced the Pentium processor has the industry seen the heart of the computer reinvented like this. The Core 2 Duo desktop processor is an energy-efficient marvel, packing 291 million transistors yet consuming 40% lower power, while delivering the performance needed for the applications of today and tomorrow."

The highly anticipated processor family already has very broad support with more than 550 customer system designs underway - the most in Intel's history. Ultimately, tens of thousands of businesses will sell computers or components based on these processors.

The Intel Core 2 Duo processors are built in several of the world's most advanced, high-volume output manufacturing facilities using Intel's leading 65-nanometer silicon process technology. The desktop PC version of the processors also provide up to a 40% increase in performance and are more than 40% more energy efficient versus Intel's previous best processor. According to multiple independent review organizations, the processors win more than nine out of 10 major server, desktop PC and gaming PC performance benchmarks.

The Intel Core 2 Duo processor family consists of five desktop PC processors tailored for business, home, and enthusiast users, such as high-end gamers, and five mobile PC processors designed to fit the needs of a mobile lifestyle. Intel Core 2 Duo processor-based workstations will also deliver industry leading performance for such areas as design, content creation and technical computing.

The processor family is based on the revolutionary Intel Core™ microarchitecture, designed to provide powerful yet energy-efficient performance. With the power of dual cores, or computing engines, the processors can manage numerous tasks faster. They also can operate more smoothly when multiple applications are running, such as writing e-mails while downloading music or videos and conducting a virus scan. These dual-core chips also improve tasks, such as viewing and playing high-definition video, protecting the PC and its assets during ecommerce transactions, and enabling improved battery life for sleeker, lighter notebooks.

Consumers and businesses will have the option to purchase Intel Core 2 Duo processors as part of Intel's premier market-focused platforms, which are made up of Intel hardware and software technologies tailored to specific computing needs, including Intel vPro™ technology for businesses, Intel Centrino Duo mobile technology for laptops, and Intel Viiv™ technology for the home.

Many of the products will also offer a selection of Intel-designed and integrated technologies such as Intel Virtualization Technology and Intel Active Management Technology that make the PC more secure and manageable. Also, support for 64-bit computing now expands to notebook PCs. The new processors can be paired with the Intel 975X, 965, and Mobile Intel 945 Express chipset family. The Intel 965 Express chipset includes the latest integrated graphics and Intel Clear Video Technology. All these chipsets are Microsoft Windows Vista(a) Premium Ready.

Advanced Innovations

Intel Core 2 Duo and Intel Core 2 Extreme processors include many advanced innovations, including:

  • Intel Wide Dynamic Execution - Improves performance and efficiency as each core can complete up to four full instructions simultaneously using an efficient 14-stage pipeline.
  • Intel Smart Memory Access - Improves system performance by hiding memory latency, thus optimizing the use of available computer data bandwidth to provide data to the processor when and where it is needed.
  • Intel Advanced Smart Cache - Includes a shared L2 cache or memory reservoir to reduce power by minimizing memory "traffic" yet increases performance by allowing one core to utilize the entire cache when the other core is idle. Only Intel provides this capability in all segments.
  • Intel Advanced Digital Media Boost - Effectively doubles the execution speed for instructions used widely in multimedia and graphics applications.
  • Intel 64 Technology - This enhancement to Intel's 32-bit architecture supports 64-bit computing, including enabling the processor to access larger amounts of memory.
  • Mobile PC Processor Unique Features
  • Intel Core 2 Duo mobile processors include many advanced innovations, including:
  • Intel Dynamic Power Coordination - Coordinates Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology and idle power-management state (C-states) transitions independently per core to help save power.
  • Intel Dynamic Bus Parking - Enables platform power savings and improved battery life by allowing the chipset to power down with the processor in low-frequency mode.
  • Enhanced Intel Deeper Sleep with Dynamic Cache Sizing - Saves power by flushing cache data to system memory during periods of inactivity to lower CPU voltage.

Intel has been shipping production-ready Intel Core 2 Duo processors for all segments in advance of today's unveiling. Initial Intel Core 2 Extreme processor-based systems are now available from system manufacturers, resellers and integrators, including Intel Channel Partner Program members. Intel Core 2 Duo desktop processor-based systems will be available beginning in early August. Intel Core 2 Duo processor-based notebooks will be available at the end of August.

Link: Welcome to the World's Best Processors

Core 2 MacBooks for the Holidays?

The Apple Core's Jason D. O'Grady says:

"It's pretty easy to deduce that Merom, Intel's successor to the Yonah (a.k.a. Core Duo) chip, will find its way into a speed-bumped MacBook Pro. The question is when.

"Intel will be announcing the Core 2 Duo chips at a press event tomorrow (Thursday) at company headquarters in Santa Clara, CA according to a spokesman. Although the event will focus on the desktop Core 2 Duo chip (Conroe) the notebook version (Merom) is expected to debut as well, with the caveat that it won't be available until August.

"Although I originally reported that Merom may appear in the MacBook Pro as early as August, sources close to the project have their doubts."

Link: Merom MacBooks for the Holidays?

Core 2 Laptops to Ship Late August

The Register's Tony Smith reports:

"Intel has published the details of the first 'Merom' mobile Core 2 Duo processors, though the chips will not ship in notebooks until toward the end of August, the chip giant revealed this morning."

Link: Merom Laptops to Ship Late August

Intel Inside, but Still a Mac's Richard Hill reports:

"Here's what all the fuss has been about. In a blaze of headlines, Apple has abandoned its long-standing use of the PowerPC processor in favour of new chips from Intel. A key factor in the switch has been the lack of a competitive PowerPC chip that runs cool enough to fit in Apple's famously slim portables, making the MacBook Pro's release a defining moment.

"Given the transformed architecture and instruction set driving the MacBook Pro, its most remarkable trait is how much like the PowerBook G4 - its immediate predecessor - it feels. Only small details indicate any change, most notably the built-in iSight video camera over the display - an overdue catch-up with rival manufacturers. The screen itself has 60 pixels shaved off its resolution to make room for the iSight's circuitry, but otherwise meets Apple's high standards, presenting deep blacks....

"...the MacBook Pro is responsive, quiet and elegant in use, enabling you to work without distraction. (It does run significantly hotter than its predecessors, however.)"

Link: Intel Inside but Still an Apple Mac

Core 2 May Save Christmas

CNET's Tom Krazit reports:

"Without a new operating system from Microsoft, the performance delivered by the new chip could be the selling point for PCs this holiday season.

"It might be the chip that saves Christmas.

"Intel is finally ready to launch its Core 2 Duo processor Thursday at an event at its Santa Clara, Calif.-based headquarters, after months of talks and PowerPoint slides. And based on the early reviews, it appears as though Intel has a winner on performance."

Link: 'Tis Finally the Season for Intel's Core 2 Duo

Intel to Ship New Desktop, Laptop Chips in August

Reuters' Aiko Hayashi reports:

"Intel Corp. said on Thursday it plans to start shipping new processors for desktop and laptop computers in August, betting the energy-saving chips would help the world's largest semiconductor maker regain share from rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

"Intel, which has been losing market share in computer processors to AMD, is introducing a series of new products with all-new designs this year. It says the chips bring better performance and lower power consumption, counting on them to help halt several quarters of falling sales and profits....

"The Core 2 Duo series, previously codenamed Conroe and Merom, is the second in a range of products that use a more efficient design after the Xeon 5100 series, a new chip for computer servers that hit the market last month."

Link: Intel to Ship New Desktop, Laptop Chips in August

Intel Core 2 Duo vs. AMD Athlon 64 FX-62

The Register's Lars-Göran Nilsson reports:

"Although Reg Hardware published benchmarks for the new Intel Core 2 Duo and Extreme chips almost two weeks ago, it has taken that long for Intel to launch the product formally. If you've got the cash, you should be able to pick one up today. But the question many folk - particularly those with a preference for AMD's processors - are still asking is, why? There's no doubt that Intel has produced an impressive successor to the Pentium D, but can it beat AMD's latest offerings?

"We should point out that we wanted to include full benchmarks for AMD's Athlon 64 FX-62 in our Core 2 Duo review. AMD, alas, was unable to supply us with one for testing. Too busy buying ATI to make any chips, eh, lads?

"So, to give you an idea of how much faster the Core 2 Duo architecture is, we've compared our benchmarks from the Core 2 review with those we recorded for our FX-62 review...."

Link: Intel Core 2 Duo vs. AMD Athlon 64 FX-62

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