It’s amazing how much the desktop CPU landscape has changed since this time last year, when Intel was still on the receiving end of a rather lasting pummeling from AMD’s Athlon 64 processors. With the launch of the Core 2 Duo, a design that received SimHQ’s Hardware of the Year Award, Intel forced AMD into the position of being the company releasing new products based on an aging architecture that relies upon higher clock speeds (and higher TDP ratings) to compete… and yet still loses in most, if not all, performance tests! While the X2 6000+ should have an initial street price of $30-40 less than a Core 2 Duo E6700, looking back at the benchmark numbers above it’s hard to recommend this new CPU over Intel’s offerings; particularly when those performance numbers are also contrasted with the power consumption differences between the tested processors. For those with AM2-based systems, however, the X2 6000+’s higher core speed should provide a significant upgrade over earlier 940-pin CPUs.
If released specifications for AMD’s quad-core design, code-named Barcelona, are any indication of the direction of the company’s upcoming architecture then we should see greatly improved SSE performance, faster floating point operations, higher IPC efficiencies, and improved memory bandwidth. Yet Intel has also been busy re-organizing itself and has no intentions of relying for too long on its Core 2 Duo lineup as it did with Netburst; a 45nm-based next-generation update to Core 2, code-named Penryn, is slated to begin production in the second half of this year, a design boasting much larger L2 cache sizes, higher clock speeds than current Core 2 Duo processors, and SSE4 instructions. And with Intel’s substantial process technology and manufacturing capacity advantages, AMD could very well have a difficult road to pave in the coming year. Yet the company has in the past sailed turbulent seas due to an excellent management team, and 2007 looks to be an interesting year for AMD fans.
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