To say this year has been a bit of a whirl-wind adventure would be an immense understatement. We've seen Intel move from a back-seat position versus the Athlon 64 X2 with their Pentium D architecture, to commanding virtually all of the lime-light as of late with Core 2 Duo, not to mention running away with nearly all of the performance benchmark wins. If 2006 was the year of the dual-core CPU, then Intel left its mark deep in PC processor history as probably the biggest come-back story the industry has ever seen. Core 2 Duo's steep volume ramp in the market was also indicative of the success of the new processor, which was marked as the strongest in the company's history. Speaking of which, "history" seems to be a recurring theme here. If Intel left their mark on the year of the dual-core processor, they're about to literally usher in the year of the multi-core Desktop system with the new Core 2 Extreme QX6700 processor we have on our test bench today. History in the making? Perhaps. But that's what cutting-edge semiconductor technology is all about -- moving forward at a relentless pace, never pausing to look back.
Today Intel is officially launching a new Quad-Core processor, formerly known by the company's internal code name, "Kentsfield". Kentsfield is the direct result of Intel's immense manufacturing and process technology prowess. Based on the company's 65nm manufacturing process, one of the very few fabs of its kind in high volume production at this time, the Core 2 Extreme QX6700 is an integration of two Core 2 Duo dual-core processors on a single substrate for a total of 4 CPU cores in a single LGA 775 socket. Targeted at serious PC Enthusiasts and Workstation Power Users, this new quad-core CPU is poised to set new land-speed records in benchmark test suites. On this first day of November (PST, for our East Coast readership), Halloween may be over but the gory details of Intel's Quad Core Assault are next.
Over the course of the past year or so, we have posted a wealth of information related to Intel's Core microarchitecture and Core 2 Duo and Extreme processors here at HotHardware.com. For more background on the technologies employed by the Core microarchitecture and Intel's platform as a whole, we suggest taking a look at few of these related articles. They contain detailed explanations of some of the features common to Intel's legacy products, compatible chipsets, and the new Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme processors:
- Core 2 Extreme QX6700 IDF Preview
- Core 2 Duo E6700 & Extreme X6800 Evaluation
- AMD Athlon 64 FX-62 and 5000+ Evaluation (AMD's most recent competitive launch)
- Pentium Extreme Edition 965 Evaluation
- Pentium Extreme Edition 955 & i975X Express Chipset Evaluation
- Pentium Extreme Edition 840 Preview
- Pentium D 820 & i945G/P Evaluation
We cover some specifics regarding Intel's 65nm manufacturing process in our 955XE / i975X evaluation and outline Intel's AMT (Active Management Technology) and IVT (Intel Virtualization Technology), among other things, in our July Core 2 Duo Performance and Chipset update. The other articles listed above will also give you some background as to how the Core 2 Duo's performance has changed over the last few months, leading up to today's official launch of the new quad-core Core 2 Extreme QX6700 processor.
Beyond these various data points there really isn't too much more to know about Kentsfield, other than the fact that the chip is simply a pair of dual-core, Core 2 Duo E6700 processors at 2.66GHz, on a single package substrate, sharing a single 1066MHz QDR (Quad Data Rate) System Bus connection to the Northbridge. That's four cores and 8MB of on-die cache all in a single LGA775 socket. In other words, double the cores, double the cache and double the fun, but of course that also takes the QX6700's TDP (Thermal Design Power) up a notch from the Core 2 Duo's 65-75 Watt range to roughly double to 130 Watts. This puts this new Intel quad-core CPU within range of Intel's legacy Pentium Extreme Edition 965 dual-core chip from a power and heat dissipation perspective. Not too shabby at all, when you consider how much faster the architecture has proven itself to be over the past few months and the fact that we're talking four cores in total here, versus only two in the Pentium EE 965.