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Intel's Conroe Previewed and Benchmarked 261

DrFishstik writes "Anandtech has a few preliminary benchmarks on Intel's new Conroe architecture. From the article: 'As far as we could tell, there was nothing fishy going on with the benchmarks or the install. Both systems [AMD 2.8Ghz OC and Conroe] were clean and used the latest versions of all of the drivers.'"
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Intel's Conroe Previewed and Benchmarked

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  • Wait and see (Score:5, Informative)

    by xming ( 133344 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @07:51AM (#14873879) Homepage
    As pointed out by Ars .html [] I think we should wait and see for the more objective benchmarks. Anyway 2006 will be a good year for CPUs
  • Re:The Conclusion (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @08:32AM (#14874022) Homepage
    by the time this new intel is out, AMD should already be well and truly released. probably also embedding themselves more in Dell's good books and taking more than 80% of the market. Intel are fighting the loosing battle.

    1) AMD has something like 20% of the processor market, including OEMs. They couldn't deliver 80% of the market in many years even if the market wanted it.
    2) AMD has no major process/architecture shifts between now and Conroe's release.
    3) The AMD chip was already overclocked (but then again, they may have gotten a golden sample from Intel).
    4) It's losing, not loosing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @08:34AM (#14874030)
    Did they really expect around 20% better performance, while using 66% faster RAM? That seems at least unfair to me... Especially the encoding tests, whose results depend heavily on RAM access.

    If you read the various benchmarks over the years, changing memory architecture or increasing it's speed directly does very little to increase most benchmarks more than a percentage point or two. Inceasing FSB also hasn't done much. Rather increases in processor performance are directly responsible for the disparity between the new Intel cpus coming.
  • by iainl ( 136759 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @08:37AM (#14874042)
    The AMD was overclocked to the timings of the one that won't officially be released until June - unsurprisingly, AMD won't let them have a pre-production chip to demonstrate how their one is even faster.
  • by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @08:46AM (#14874075) Homepage Journal
    I got a cheapy 64 bit sempron system with crappy onboard 6100 nVidia graphics card (theres an empty pci-e slot available for the summer)

    I held off playing half life 2 because I didn't think it would run (I had a 5900 agp previously than ran it really well)

    I am running now at 800*600 with full details enabled and 2x AA and I've only noticed one point where it even shudders (the chimney blowing up and falling whilst in the airboat), if anything its smoother on this card than before, and the shaders are tonnes better (water, and nobbly glass doorways especially).
    The only thing I'm missing is the ability to go to super resolution, but considering what I have gained I'm willing to wait.

    I was very pleasantly surprised :)
  • Re:Wait and see (Score:3, Informative)

    by mcbridematt ( 544099 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @09:02AM (#14874151) Homepage Journal
    But isn't Conroe based on the new Intel Core (Not the current Solo or Duo) design, which is similar but not the same to the P-M? See the dirt on Wikipedia []
  • Re:Wait and see (Score:5, Informative)

    by hattig ( 47930 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @09:23AM (#14874225) Journal
    The K8 core is as similar to the K7 core as the conroe core is to a PIII core.

    I.e., at first glance there are similarities which can lead to the obvious thought that the K8 core is just a K7 core with memory controller, but actually they're completely revamped, overhauled, enhanced and redone.

    I agree that it is time for AMD to get a "K9" out of the door as the K8 as it is won't compete against Intel's offerings unless AMD somehow get 3.6GHz out of 65nm at launch (which is extremely unlikely). Of course, K8L will probably put AMD back into the lead in terms of floating point anyway, but integer is going to be very weak.

    Unless AMD is sandbagging - but that's a faint hope for even the most ardent AMD fanboy. I think they miscalculated Intel this time around.

    Which of AMD or Intel has the most fangirls?
  • Re:Is it 64-bit? (Score:3, Informative)

    by layer3switch ( 783864 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @09:30AM (#14874254)
    old article indicated that it's actually x86 extension on 64bit processor, Conroe.
  • Re:Wait and see (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @09:31AM (#14874255)
    I R'd TFA and that's exactly how the Ars editorial came across. What the writer seems to ignore is the F.E.A.R. benchmark that Anandtech ran. It used their own demo instead of an Intel provided one (like the other benches) and it still trounced the AMD chip.

    I agree that we should wait and see until truly independent benchmarks are done, but I don't see a reason to be as dismissive as the Ars writer.
  • Prices (Score:3, Informative)

    by Namarrgon ( 105036 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @09:36AM (#14874277) Homepage
    According to this [], the Athlon FX60 was released in Jan '06 at a price of US$1031, in 1000-unit quantities. The next FX-series chip (the 2.8GHz version) will probably debut around June, at somewhere near this price.

    According to this [], the 2.66 GHz Conroe will be released in Q3'06 at a price of US$530, in 1000-unit quantities.

    With these prices, combined with the apparent performance and power differences (Conroe has a predicted TDP of 65W, compared to the FX60 at 110W), it looks to me like we'll finally see some heavy competition from Intel. Of course, a lot can happen between now and then - Intel have had manufacturing issues in the past, AMD have a new memory controller on the way and a 65nm die shrink due early next year, and can probably squeeze out two or even three speed bumps before Conroe really hits. Who knows, they might even drop their prices a bit.

    Come Q3, I'll be sitting in the ringside seats with popcorn, ready to watch the fun :-)

  • Re:Wait and see (Score:2, Informative)

    by adsl ( 595429 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @09:53AM (#14874366)
    Here's a thought and a question: It seems top me that Intel's "new" platform CPU design can be used across most sectors. i.e. Laptops, PCs and Servers at 65 nanos. They also admit that it's as cheap to produce in dual core as the Pentium single core is at 90 nanos. So here we have excellent computing power, great power saving and MASSIVE cost savings in production. Conclusion and question: Given the above will this give Intel, what looks like, a huge price advantage in terms of production and enable them to realise much greater margins than ever? This of course would enable them to underprice anything AMD could offer..... If so, for the consumer it looks like second half 2006 will be a great time to build/buy a new PC.
  • Re:Shock news. (Score:5, Informative)

    by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @09:55AM (#14874369)
    Also, the forthcoming AMD processors are a new core architecture and will support faster RAM with an onboard memory controller.
    The review did address that, as best they could:
    While we're still comparing to Socket-939 and only using RD480, it does seem very unlikely that AMD would be able to make up this much of a deficit with Socket-AM2 and RD580. Especially looking at titles like F.E.A.R. where Conroe's performance advantage averages over 40%, it looks like Intel's confidence has been well placed.
    As for your assertion that MHz don't mean anything, that's just wrong. Within a single architecture, speed is nearly proportional to MHz. For a 2.66 GHz Intel to crush a 2.8 GHz AMD so convincingly, does not mean good things for AMD if the Intel can easily reach 3 GHz. It means AMD would have to be at about 3.8 GHz to keep pace: 2.8*(3/2.66)*1.2 = 3.7895 assuming these benchmarks show a 20% lead for Intel.

    The real hope for AMD here is that these results won't hold to other benchmarks in general. Apparently this set of benchmarks was handpicked by Intel, so that's almost certainly the case to some degree.

  • Re:Wait and see (Score:2, Informative)

    by acidblood ( 247709 ) <[ten.ppced] [ta] [oiced]> on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @10:07AM (#14874433) Homepage
    And Intel's new chips are based on the Pentium-M, which is still heavily based on the Pentium-PRO that dates from the early 90s...

    Never mind that the AMD K7 was a carbon copys of the P6 microarchitecture, with incremental tweaks most probably applied to account for P6 shortcomings found in the field. That's an euphemism for `AMD stole Intel's field experience.' The K8 core is only an incremental tweak of K7, the major feature being the on-die memory controller.

    So really, AMD can't blame Intel for using P6-derived cores since they're doing the same (not to mention the ethics of stealing a competitor's design). Also, their incremental tweaks aren't really that significant -- process technology changes account for the larger share of performance increase.

    Intel tried to raise the bar with the P4 designs, applying some risky design features like hyperpipelined design, and unfortunately the strategy didn't work out all that well, in no small part due to power issues. Moreover they had to endure fanboy cries of `designed by marketing!', but that's the price one pays for exploring new ground in computer architecture. Meanwhile AMD will be content to follow on Intel's successful footsteps as they've always done.

    I'm sorry if that's not a fashionable opinion in Slashdot groupthink, but there you go.
  • by Namarrgon ( 105036 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @10:12AM (#14874464) Homepage
    the number of concurrent threads

    If you're referring to "Hyperthreading", Conroe has none that I'm aware of. One thread at a time, in hardware (whatever you like in software of course).

    the power consumption and with that the heat output

    Conroe is supposed to have a Thermal Design Power of only 65W. Compare this to the current 3.6GHz P4's TDP of 115W. AMD rate the Athlon FX60's TDP at 110W; however AMD quote the maximum possible thermal dissipation while Intel quotes "typical", usually 75% of maximum (which would make the FX60 about 82W by Intel's reckoning) .

    of course the expense of both the processor and the ram it needs

    The 2.4GHz and 2.6GHz Conroes are expected to sell for US$316 and US$530 respectively, in 1000-unit quantities (the FX60 was released at US$1031). RAM is harder; reportedly Conroe chipsets will use DDR2, but possibly packaged as new FB-DIMMs. I don't have pricing for those yet, but they'll probably cost more. Consumer motherboards may just use standard DDR2 DIMMs.

  • by Aaron Isotton ( 958761 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @10:12AM (#14874470)

    You should not forget that Intel supplied both the hardware and the benchmarks. Obviously, they will only supply benchmarks where they win, and not the ones where the Athlon is better (if there are any). The F.E.A.R. benchmark seems to confirm that Conroe is really faster, but that's just one benchmark, which is not enough to convince me of Conroe's superiority.

    That being said, I think it is in everybody's best interest if the benchmark results actually represent a real advantage; 20% more speed is indeed a big step forward.

  • Re:Shock news. (Score:2, Informative)

    by DaFrogBoy ( 519141 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @10:27AM (#14874577) Homepage
    The article compared a AMD Athlon 64 X2 *NOT* a FX.

    FX is known to be better in gaming than the X2.
  • Re:Wait and see (Score:5, Informative)

    by mooingyak ( 720677 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @11:03AM (#14874902)
    ars technica != Anandtech

    Good summary of the Anandtech article though.
  • Re:Wait and see (Score:4, Informative)

    by imsabbel ( 611519 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @11:06AM (#14874925)
    Well, thats certainly not correct.
    The internal differences between p6 and k7 are enormous.
    From microops sheduling (k7 using packed microops, in some kind of on the fly VLIW ) to the execution units (fully piplelined and superscalar FPU, for example, compared the non-fully piplelined scalar one), virtually the only thing thats the same is the fact it eats x86 opcode.

    But the fact is that the changes between p6 and the new p-m derivates are VERY much larger than the change from 99s k7 to the latest k8.
    Just look at a current die-photo of a k8... back in 99, the core transistor count was at the edge of what was possible economically, with l2 cache externally implemented. Nowadays, the nearly unchanged core is just a small lump on the side of the large and not very dense l2 cache-array...
  • Re:Wait and see (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sketch ( 2817 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @11:07AM (#14874930) Homepage
    The Core is basically a redesign/relayout of the P6 on a modern process, with some things learned from the P4 thrown in.
  • Re:Shock news. (Score:5, Informative)

    by fitten ( 521191 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @12:13PM (#14875683)
    The things that AMD has said that they have are F, G, and H revisions of the K8 core (the core that the Athlon64, Turion, Sempron64s, and Opterons are based on) which, other than DDR2 support, not much more information is available. There is another revision called the K8L which will supposedly have 2x the FPU units for about a 50% gain in FPU performance. These will most likely be HPC blade Opterons or some such.

    DDR2-800 support, which is the known upgrade, basically adds bandwidth to a chip that isn't bandwidth starved as it is. Current speculation is that the new DDR2-800 Athlon64s will show up to a 10% performance increase on extreme bandwidth benchmarks (synthetics and HPC crunchers, for example).

    THe simple fact remains that intel needed to do these tests at all, side by side. That's an admission on their part that AMD is beating them and beating them hard.

    Intel has publicly stated (admitted) this already. This demo is to show that the chips they have planned for Q3'06 release (speculation is that they will be delivering machines based on it in July which is the very beginning of Q3, which is only 4 months away) perform well.

    By the way, if speculation is that machines will be selling in July, this would imply that the chips are in manufacturing even as we speak. This means that Apple is most likely to announce availability of the new Intel based Power Macs around this time, as well and the various benchmark sites to have their hands on 'pre-production' machines in two to three months tops. We'll be able to see the real story then.

    The only announced things from AMD even remotely in this time frame (specifically July and Q3'06) are the AM2 socket for DDR2-800 and a speed bump of the FX-62 to 2.8GHz (which is the equivalent of the overclocked part in the demo). Given that DDR2-800 is expected to be a 10% speed bump at most in most cases and that Conroe will be available at 3GHz (if not higher as rumored - 3.33GHz), I predict (a rather easy prediction to make) that AMD will be playing catch-up for once in the past few years.
  • Re:Shock news. (Score:3, Informative)

    by fitten ( 521191 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @12:24PM (#14875792)
    Oh... another thing that I forgot was that somewhere in the F, G, and H revisions (and probably the L), HT was supposed to be bumped up to 333MHz (1.333GHz effective) from the current 200MHz (1GHz effective). Given that tests have already shown that 800MHz effective HT performance is statistically equal to 1000MHz effective HT performance, boosting HT speed will probably give a small (1% to 3%) performance increase at best. In actuality, the HT speed increase is required for DDR2-800 to run at its best so the performance gain for it is probably inclusive to any gains shown by DDR2-800 adoption.
  • by Wesley Felter ( 138342 ) <> on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @01:23PM (#14876442) Homepage
    As I explained yesterday, [] the TPM is not actually in the processor, but the processor has a few new features that allow it to cooperate with the TPM. If you buy a motherboard with a LaGrande-enabled processor but no TPM, LaGrande will not be able to work its evil magic on you.
  • Re:Shock news. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @03:22PM (#14877579)
    You missed the part where the parent said "within a single architecture".

    Intel's heat issues started when they introduced Prescott, which was effectively a new architecture that didn't really deserve the moniker "Pentium 4".

    When you compare the current P4 to the original P4, they have very little in common. Intel just stuck the P4 name on all of them for marketing reasons. In fact, if I'm reading all the coverage of Conroe correctly, they are going to call it a P4 too even though it is a completely different architecture derived from the Pentium M (which is itself derived from the Pentium III).

    So the parent's point remains valid. When you compare the various initial speeds of the Conroe, since they will all be based on the same core, comparing performance based on clockspeed (between Conroe chips) will be a valid comparison.
  • Re:Shock news. (Score:2, Informative)

    by trilliwig ( 558395 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @04:26PM (#14878145)
    It was an FX-60 (overclocked to 2.8 GHz), which is pretty much identical to the Athlon64 X2 series with the sole exception of having unlocked multipliers to support overclocking. Hexus did a review of the same machines over at [].
  • Re:How many cores? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Cornelius the Great ( 555189 ) on Wednesday March 08, 2006 @04:45PM (#14878331)
    Intel has already stated that the Conroe will be dual-core only []. The quad-core chip is called the Clovertown, and is due out next year (early 2007).

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