Intel® Core™2 Extreme Quad-Core Microprocessor
Intel’s Core 2 Extreme QX9650’s scores were something of a mixed bag in our testing. Certain titles, such as Wolves of the Pacific and World in Conflict, were clean sweeps, with the new processor’s larger caches and design enhancements enabling higher performance under all tested settings. Other titles, such as GTR2 and GRAW2, however, saw little if any gains under high game settings at 1280×1024. This isn’t an indictment against Intel’s new processor, though, since it’s reasonable to expect other system components to become the performance bottleneck when testing under certain conditions and when certain features, some quite graphically-intensive, are enabled. It is simply worth pointing out that these conditions exist and can often ameliorate expected performance gains from a high-end, quad-core processor.
If the benchmark numbers produced for this review don’t exactly blow open the barn doors, it’s because Penryn is an evolutionary architectural update that was never expected to shame Intel’s previous Core 2 processors. It is, however, a shining example of Intel’s rather considerable process technology lead over the competition, one that will be put to further use in the latter half of 2008 when Intel launches its truly next-generation Nehalem processors. Nehalem is expected to finally see Intel integrate on-die a memory controller supporting DDR3 with scalable memory channels, use a point-to-point interconnect that retires the aging front side bus, and sport a tiered cache system that will be shared among the one to eight cores Nehalem processors are expected to offer.
Furthermore, Nehalem cores will each be able to manage multiple threads, akin to the Pentium 4’s Hyper-Threading, and certain models of these processors will include integrated graphics; though Intel remains dodgy if the graphics offering will be on the same die as the CPU or not. In the meantime, we suspect Intel is holding their cards rather close to their collective vest, and if AMD’s upcoming Phenom quad core emerges as a viable threat to the performance crown Intel has worn for the past 1.5 years we could see the company leverage their 45nm high-k/metal gate technology and offer processors clocked well above 3.0 GHz.
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