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Intel Pentium E2140 Dual Core Processor
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Date: May 29, 2007
Section:Processors
Author: Alex Evans
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Introduction and Specifications

Intel has spent millions making their "Core" brand synonymous with high performance processing. In these days of the Core Duo, Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Quad, and Core 2 Extreme, it’s pretty easy to find a Core microarchitecture-based processor to match nearly any possible price point. The performance levels of the Core 2 product lineup have been so dominating that Intel really didn’t have to spend a penny if they didn’t want to, although big time marketing campaigns are good for converting those who just want the latest and greatest and don’t necessarily read enthusiast sites like ours here.

Despite the Core 2 being a successful lineup from top to bottom, Intel’s Pentium product name is still a valuable asset. Intel’s last Pentium-branded product launches happened mid last year, with the “Presler” core based Pentium-D processors hitting the market at speeds in excess of 3.0 GHz. Soon afterwards, the first generation Core 2 processors hit the streets and (more or less) dominated the Pentium-D in terms of performance, all the while consuming far less power and creating much less heat. From that point forward, many had figured the Pentium name would be essentially dead, simply living out its final days as inventory in warehouses until the Core 2 made it obsolete.

Apparently, this is not what Intel had in mind. A while back, we started to hear rumblings of a “new” Pentium processor. While the Pentium had always targeted the performance crowd, it appeared that Intel would be taking the name in a new direction, pushing it to the value sector where their Celeron brand typically resided. As the Celeron name does not have a strong following, replacing it with an aging (but still well known) brand like Pentium does make quite a lot of sense. The question is, what really is this “new” Pentium processor? Is this a new architecture, or simply a new chip based on something we’ve already seen?

The answers to those questions are finally here, as the first “new” Pentium processor has arrived and is running in our lab. This new processor is shipping at two speeds, 1.6 GHz (E2140) and 1.8 GHz (E2160), is based on a dual-core architecture, and ships in the same powder-blue box we’ve come to associate with the Core 2 Duo.

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Intel Pentium E2140 Shipping Box - Front

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Intel Pentium E2140 Shipping Box - Rear

  • Dual Core Processor at 1.6 GHz Clock Speed

  • "Conroe" Core Architecture

  • 65nm Manufaturing Technology

  • 64k L1 Cache (Per Core), 128 kB L1 Total

  • 1 MB (Shared) L2 Cache (Full Speed)

  • 800 MHz Front Side Bus Speed
  • Socket-775 Form Factor Design

  • 1.35V Default Core Voltage

  • Supports Intel 64-bit Technology

  • Supports SSE/SSE2/SSE3/Execute Disable

  • Supports Intel Speedstep / C1E

  • Includes Aluminum Alloy Heatsink/Fan

So what exactly IS the Pentium E2100 series? What we basically have here is a stripped down, low-clocked “Conroe” processor, which is the architecture used in the initial Core 2 Duo product lineup. “Conroe” cores typically have 4 MB of shared L2 cache and start at clock speeds of 1.86 GHz and higher. Low-end Conroe processors like the Core 2 Duo E6320 start at about $170 today. Pentium-E2100 processors are starting at around $90, however, almost half the cost of the cheapest Core 2 Duo.

The Pentium E2140 drops the Conroe clock speed down to 1.6 GHz at its lowest, and has 1 MB of shared L2 cache. Cutting out L2 cache dramatically decreases transistor count and die size, and lowers power consumption and heat production. Intel has always decreased cache amounts for their low-end Celeron lineup, which further solidifies the theory that Intel will be dropping the Celeron brand in favor of the Pentium as their new low-end brand.

The Pentium E2100-series also runs at a slower 800 MHz front side bus, in comparison to the Core 2 Duo’s 1066 MHz FSB and the newer / upcoming 1333 MHz FSB. This cuts down on bandwidth, but at stock speeds this should not be a major issue. Of course, a low stock front side bus speed also bodes well for overclockers, who should be able to push this chip far higher through FSB tweaking in comparison to chips which have a high stock FSB.

Beyond the cache size and front side bus speed decrease, the Pentium E2100-series is more or less identical to a Core 2 Duo. Both these chip lines are manufactured at 65nm, use Socket-775 interfaces, and support 64-bit processing. The “Conroe” processor is still very efficient per clock, and if your application is not cache heavy, performance will be close on a clock for clock basis to a similarly clocked Core 2 Duo. The Core 2 Duo is obviously a superior processor, but that’s not to say that the new Pentium E2100 lineup is slow, however.

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Design and Features

As we mentioned before, this new Pentium utilizes Socket-775, which Intel has used for the past several years now. At first glance, this processor looks identical to the Core 2 Duo, which isn’t surprising as they are so closely linked to each other. A quick glance at the S-SPEC and surrounding codes shows the Pentium dual-core nomenclature, along with the clock speed (1.6 GHz), shared cache (1 MB), and bus speed (800 MHz). These processors should be compatible with all Socket-775 Core 2 ready motherboards on the market, although it's likely that many motherboards will require a BIOS update in order to see this new processor correctly. The chip did indeed work in all of the Socket-775 motherboards we attempted to use it in.

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Pentium E2140 - Top

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Pentium E2140 - Bottom

The E2140 runs at a native clock speed of 1.6 GHz, while Intel will also be announcing an E2160 model which runs at 1.8 GHz. The E2140 has a stock multiplier of 8x, which factors out to 1.6 GHz at a 200 MHz bus speed (800 MHZ FSB quad-pumped). The processor also supports Intel's C1E and Speedstep clock speed throttling technology, which will slow down the chip when processing loads are low. The chip will clock its multiplier down to 6x, which means that when idling, the chip will run at 1.2 GHz. At this level, the Pentium E2140 sips power and creates very little heat, running at sub-90F temperatures when idling. Even under peak loads, our chip only reached a bit over 110F with its stock cooler. In short, it runs cool, so it can be reliably cooled with near silent solutions.

The stock clock speed of 1.6 GHz isn't anything to get excited about, as Intel's high-end chips are now pushing 3.0 GHz with up to eight times the amount of cache. However, even at 1.6 GHz with 1 MB of shared cache, the Pentium E2140 was able to run Windows Vista Ultimate with all the bells and whistles. Even for moderate gaming, this processor handles the loads surprisingly well. Far better than any Celeron-class processor we've seen in the past.

CPU-Z identifies this new processor correctly, including the smaller 1 MB cache and new processor name. Here's a quick glance at the processor's spec sheet as reported by CPU-Z, if you're into that sort of thing.

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Pentium E2140 - Core Information

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Pentium E2140 - Cache Information

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Overclocking and Power Consumption

Intel ships the Pentium E2140 with a standard Socket-775 heatsink/fan cooling unit which looks identical to the Core 2 Duo cooling units we’ve seen in the past. However, since these processors don’t push the thermal limits of this heatsink design, Intel has gone for a simple aluminum alloy core instead of a full-on copper core like Core 2 bundled coolers. Beyond this fact, the cooler is the same between the two chip lines. The fan appears to be manufactured by Foxconn, which is a 4-pin PWM enabled fan which runs at very low noise levels by default.

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Stock Cooler - Top

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Stock Cooler - Bottom

We had high hopes for overclocking this chip, as rumor had it these chips could hit 3.0 GHz and beyond with some exotic cooling methods. We were curious to see how well we could do with air cooling, as we feel like this is likely more in line with what potential buyers of a $99 processor will use.

With our eVGA nForce 680i LT SLI motherboard (a terrific overclocker), we set out to push this chip as far as we could, step by step. At default voltage levels, we were able to push the chip to an impressive 2600 MHz by increasing the front side bus speed from 800 MHz to 1300 MHz. This represents a 62.5% increase in clock speed with almost no work at all - a good start.

When we started pushing the chip further, we needed to crank up the voltage levels in order to keep the chip running smooth and stable. The end result of our overclocking efforts (on air-cooling) had our processor clocked at 2900 MHz with a core voltage of 1.5V. This represents an 81% increase in clock speed with just a few changes in the BIOS. We were able to push the chip up to 2.93 GHz (the same clock speed as Intel’s fastest shipping desktop Core 2 processors) and complete some benchmarking, but it ended up being unstable over our long term tests. We’ve included benchmarks of the chip at 2900 MHz throughout the following pages for reference, however.

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Stable Overclock - 2.9 GHz

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Peak Overclock - 2.93 GHz

Power consumption was tested with C1E/EIST disabled. Idle power load levels were tested with the system sitting at the Windows desktop, whereas full processor load levels were taken with Orthos Prime 95 (dual-core CPU stress testing utility) running and both processor cores maxed out.

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As you can see, in its stock configuration, the new Pentium E2410 conumses the least amount of power. While overclocked and running under a full load, its consumption is higher than the Core 2 Duo processors referenced here, but please note that the E2140 was running 500MHz+ higher than the other chips and with a slightly increased core voltage.

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SiSoft Sandra XI

Test System Details
Specifications and Revisions

  • eVGA Nvidia nForce 680i LT SLI Motherboard
  • Kingston HyperX DDR2-800 Memory (2 x 1 GB, CAS 4-4-4-16)
  • ATI Radeon X1950 GT 256MB (ATI Catalyst 7.4 Driver)
  • Maxtor DiamondMax 10 Serial ATA Hard Disk
  • Plextor PX-755SA DVD+/-RW Drive
  • Corsair HX620W 620W Power Supply
  • Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate Edition (32-bit)

  • Intel Pentium E2140 (1.6 GHz / 1 MB L2)
  • Intel Core 2 Duo E6300 (1.86 GHz / 2 MB L2)
  • Intel Core 2 Duo E6420 (2.13 GHz / 4 MB L2)
  • Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 (2.4 GHz / 4 MB L2)

Synthetic CPU and Memory Benchmarks
SiSoft Sandra XI

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Our raw CPU synthetic tests show both sides of the Pentium E2410. At stock speeds, we see a 10-15% performance gap between it and the slowest Core 2 Duo, which is right in line with what we expected (considering the Pentium is running at a slower clock speed and has half the cache).

When overclocked, however, we see the performance of this chip skyrocket. In these synthetic tests, we’re seeing nearly double the performance with a simple air-cooled overclock, allowing this dual-core chip with 1 MB of cache to easily outperform Intel’s mid-rage Core 2 Duo lineup with 2 MB and 4 MB of cache.

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Futuremark 3DMark and PCMark

Synthetic Benchmarks
Futuremark 3DMark05, 3DMark06 and PCMark05

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Both 3DMark05 and 3DMark06 deem the Pentium E2410 as nothing incredibly special, as even when overclocked, this processor will only show performance levels similar to the Core 2 Duo E6600, since these gaming tests are so cache intensive.

PCMark05, however, is less cache heavy, and therefore we see the higher clock speed of the overclocked E2410 processor really deliver solid performance. At stock speeds, of course, the E2410 is the lowest of the bunch, although the performance gap is not incredibly large between this chip and our low-end Core 2 Duo processors.

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Stalker and Half Life 2

Stalker : Shadow of Chernobyl
Maximum Quality Settings, No FSAA/Anisotropic Filtering

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Half Life 2 : Episode One
Maximum Quality Settings, No FSAA/Anisotropic Filtering

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Stalker appears to be GPU-bound, even at 1024x768, as swapping out different processors did not affect our tests too greatly. Half Life 2, on the other hand, showcases how a lower amount of cache can affect performance. Games are usually very cache intensive, and as such, the smaller L1 cache of the Pentium E2410 hurts it in this type of environment. Even when overclocked to nearly 3 GHz, the E2410 can only match the performance of a Core 2 Duo E6420, which is nearly a GHz slower in frequency, but has four times the cache.

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Photoshop CS3 and Windows Media Encoder

Adobe Photoshop CS3 Filter Benchmark
Cumulative Time Of Filters Run on 3072 x 2048 RAW Photo

 
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Windows Media Encoder 9 Video Encoding
1080P Movie File Encoding Test (In Seconds)

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Neither Photoshop CS3 or Windows Media Encoder 9 appear to be reliant on the processor’s cache all that much (which is surprising, honestly, especially for Photoshop). While the stock clocked Pentium E2410 is the slowest of the bunch, it doesn’t fall behind by much. When overclocked, however, this chip screams in these two applications, as we see nearly double the performance from this processor in an overclocked environment.

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7-Zip and WinRAR

7-Zip 4.42 File Compression Test
Integrated Benchmark (Measured In KBps Compression Rate)

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WinRAR 3.70 File Compression Test
Integrated Benchmark (Measured In KBps Compression Rate)

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7-Zip appears to be somewhat cache heavy, as the stock E2410 processor falls well behind the competition. When overclocked, this chip can only compete with the Core 2 Duo E6420 processor, which runs at a far lower clock rate compared to our 2.9 GHz overclocked Pentium chip. WinRAR is less cache dependant, and as such, our overclocked Pentium running at a higher clock speed delivers faster file compression performance.

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Conclusion

For a $95 (USD) processor, the Intel Pentium E2140 put up a surprisingly solid performance, which is a testament to this chip's overall value. Albeit under a new name, Intel is finally moving their Conroe dual-core architecture down to the budget markets, bringing true modern dual-core performance to low-end systems, which is something everyone can appreciate.

In terms of raw performance, the Pentium E2140 only runs about 10% slower in most cases than Intel’s cheapest Core 2 Duo processor, the E6300, which is impressive considering it has a lower clock speed and half the cache. However, the Pentium E2140 ($95) is currently 42% cheaper than the Core 2 Duo E6300 ($165), making it a better value compared to low-end Core 2 Duo processors. We should also note that, AMD does have dual-core Athlon 64 X2 processors which are as inexpensive as $55 in some cases, so if you’re looking for extreme low-budget dual-core processing, AMD still delivers the lowest price. For Intel-based dual-core computing though, the Pentium E2100-series chips are excellent choices for those with limited budgets.

When looking at the benchmarks, we also see that the Pentium E2140 can provide extremely good performance when overclocked. Notably, the chip performs great in workstation and basic office-class applications, where the smaller amount of L2 cache does not hurt performance as much as one would expect. Gamers, however, would be better served by a chip with a larger amount of L2 cache, as the smaller L2 compliment on the Pentium E2100 series does hurt its clock-for-clock gaming performance against the Core 2 Duo. While others have pushed these chips further with more exotic cooling, we pushed our chip to 2.9 GHz with the stock cooler. At this level, the Pentium E2140 processor can provide performance similar to a Core 2 Duo E6700 ($320) in best case scenarios. The Pentium E2140 can push very high clock speeds with very little work, and the stock cooler which Intel bundles is whisper silent most of the time, which makes for a great combination.

When a Pentium E2100 series processor is purchased with one of the many bargain-priced Socket-775 motherboards, coupled with a gig or two of inexpensive DDR2 memory, it can make the backbone for a very solid dual-core Vista-capable system for an extremely low price at this time. While it’s not the fastest thing on the market, we have no qualms recommending such a chip for a budget-level system. The new Pentiums are great for those looking for a cheap, overclockable dual-core processor.  And because they're so inexpensive, relatively speaking, it's quite fun to push them as far as they'll go without the fear of frying an expensive chip. Definitely a fun processor.

  • Bargain Price ($90-$100)
  • Efficient Conroe Architecture
  • Superbly Overclockable
  • Low Noise Stock Cooler
  • 1 MB Cache Hurts Gaming Performance
  • Low Stock Clock Speed
  • Not Widely Available Yet
  • May Require MB BIOS Update

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