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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [03.15.06]
Manufactured by: AMD, Intel

 

4 Processors, 2 Price Ranges

By now it's clear that Dual Core is officially The Way To Go when shopping for a new CPU. If you've ever used a system with 2 processors, you'd agree; there is no going back. Unless your system is being used for one thing, and one thing only, there is little reason not to build a system around dual core.

Both AMD and Intel offer dual core CPU's, and in similar price ranges, although Intel does offer more entry-level dual core chips. The way they go about getting two processors working on a single core differs as well.

Intel's Method

Intel's method is a simple approach - stick a couple cores onto one CPU. Each core gets its own 2MB of L2 cache, but any communication done between the cores is done on the external Frontside Bus, which has a bandwidth limitation of 6.4 GB/s on an 800 MHz FSB.

The 65nm Presler core we're looking at today goes one step further - it literally has a pair of dice on a single package, as opposed to one larger die containing both cores. This will improve their yields even further.

AMD's Method

Thanks to AMD's on-die north-bridge and HyperTransport bus, they are able to have the two cores communicate internally. This gives them a major bandwidth advantage between the two. This advantage should show up in the most heavily threaded tasks.

It's obvious that Intel is going for cost effectiveness over pure performance potential, especially with the move to 65nm of the CPU's we'll be looking at today. This way, they can simply bin similarly clocked cores together. This is what allows them to go a bit lower on the entry-level scale with their dual core products.

Prices

We won't be looking at pure entry-level processors today, but rather the upper-mid range and high range dual core CPU's from each. We won't be including the Extreme Edition from Intel this time around.

Here is how the prices compare for the four processor's we're looking at. Prices are those found on Newegg.com as of March 15, 2006.

So the X2 4800 matches up pretty close to the Pentium-D 950, and the X2 4400 and P-D 940 are essentially equal. This should make the performance comparisons clear...

Compatibility

When Intel first introduced their dual core processors, a new chipset was required for it to be supported - the 945 and 955 series. When they introduced the Presler core, they also brought in yet another chipset - the 975X, but Presler will still work any 9xx chipset. 3rd party chipsets such as NVIDIA C19 also support Presler.

AMD's compatibility is a bit better - the main choice for Socket 939 is obviously NVIDIA NFORCE4, and all that is required to support X2 processors is a BIOS update.

Next Page: (Test Setup; SiSoft Sandra)