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Linux Hardware Looks at Core 2 192

Penguin Lover writes "Linux Hardware has just posted a new story on how Intel's new Conroe performs under Linux. From the article: 'Now is a great time to be CPU shopping because no matter which side of the isle you look on, you have great choice for both CPUs and motherboards. Along with Intel's chipset offerings, keep in mind that NVIDIA has the nForce series for Intel CPUs which would give you SLI support for all your Quake Wars and UT2007 gaming needs.'"
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Linux Hardware Looks at Core 2

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  • by njvic ( 614279 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @08:26AM (#15961528)
    Isle? Come on /. editors! It's aisle!
  • Bang for the buck (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ritz_Just_Ritz ( 883997 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @08:29AM (#15961543)
    The Core2 E6600 seems to be a nice bang for the money as it is right around the middle of the currently available speed grades and is the cheapest iteration with 4MB of L2 cache. It also seems to be competitive with dual core AMD products (my usual choice) that are substantially more expensive. It's definitely a buyer's market these days...let the price war begin! :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Depends on the usage I guess. I can pick up a 1ghz duron at my local university surplus for next to nothing, and it will run MS Word and Mozilla just as well as the latest octa-core processors.
      • by qortra ( 591818 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:49AM (#15962058)
        Of course it won't run them as well. Clearly, you've never tried to open a large document (100+ pages) with pictures, tables, and indexes using Word (or especially OpenOffice which saves more money than a hardware upgrade would cost). It's a nightmare; imagine trying to drag an 18 wheeler with a Geo Metro. Even webpages can be a bit taxing these days. A sufficiently complex flash animation (yes, I hate flash too), or even AJAX webapp can bring a 1Ghz duron to its knees, especially when the rendering gets complex; Google fortunately has fairly simple AJAX pages, but others are not so kind.

        Moreover, there is nothing like using an SMP system: either two processors or a single dual-core (hyperthreading is exempt from this comment). Having all those piddly little background tasks on one core means that the second core is available just to obey your whims. The latency in executing business and web apps with a dual-core is unparalleled.

        Clearly you're cheap, and I can respect that (heaven knows I'm almost as poor as they get). Perhaps you have a point that the $350 processor that the grandparent spoke of is not in the optimal point of the price/performance curve, but even for people that just use Word and Firefox, you can't claim that a new $150 dual-core won't run stuff significantly faster than Duron; and you don't even have to blow that extra imaginary money on an octa-core[sic] processor to get the extra horsepower.

        In either case, I consider your minimalist elitism offtopic.
        • by Wolfrider ( 856 )
          --Virtual environments are where multi-core processors will really start to shine. One processor running the VM(s), other processor running the Host.

          --I've ben running Vmware Workstation 5.x for a couple of years now on a 900MHz Amd Duron with 512MB RAM, Linux host (mostly Knoppix/Debian, but also Ubuntu.) Just upgraded to a Pentium-D 2.66Ghz dual-core with 2GB RAM, and it's night and day. Even with Gig Ethernet, the thing just flies.

          --Trying out XUbuntu 64-bit ATM; seems pretty nice so far, altho I've o
      • by TheLink ( 130905 )
        I've had problems playing certain videos with a 1GHz Duron - some of the "project offset" videos for example.

        Looks like soon would be a good time to replace that machine...

        The Core 2 is a better performing CPU than the X2, but I'm not too confident about the chipset or the first release yet...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by subsolar2 ( 147428 )

      The Core2 E6600 seems to be a nice bang for the money as it is right around the middle of the currently available speed grades and is the cheapest iteration with 4MB of L2 cache. It also seems to be competitive with dual core AMD products (my usual choice) that are substantially more expensive. It's definitely a buyer's market these days...let the price war begin! :)

      Actually if you include the motherboard price AMD X2 chips are more competetive since my looking around show Intel Core2 compatible MB cost

    • if all Core2s didn't have built-in TPM.

      'fraid that rules it out for me.
    • In wanting the highest performance while maintaining a great bang for the buck, I'd agree that the E6600 looks great, performing well as-is, and also being great for overclocking (especially with added cooling). However I wonder if the quad-core chips reportedly coming next year will be drop-in compatible. If that is the case and there is a strong likelihood of upgrading again so soon, going with the low-end E6300 now seems more cost effective. The E6300 is a good overclocker too, but it does have the sm
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Dwedit ( 232252 )
        Hyperthreading is only found in the Pentium IV series of processors, the Architecture of core 2 duo can't support it.
    • by ozbird ( 127571 )
      It also seems to be competitive with dual core AMD products (my usual choice) that are substantially more expensive.

      Based on prices here in Australia, I assume you're talking about AMD FX or Opteron processors. The Core2 E6600 is listed at around A$500; the Athlon64 X2 5000+ lists for around A$50 less.
  • the isle (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anoraknid the Sartor ( 9334 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @08:30AM (#15961547) Homepage
    which isle would that be?

    Penguin Isle?

    Isle be going now...
  • by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @08:39AM (#15961592)

    I like the "NOW is a great time to buy..." argument for anything that improves steadily over time. Can you point to a time in recent computer history where "NOW" wasn't the best time to purchase a new rig? It can't possibly be news to readers here that the processor-power-to-dollar-ratio is at its best point ever, can it? It would be like saying "NOW is the best time to buy a new car", as if there has been a point in the last 20 years where the general trend of car quality has dropped, but even more ridiculous because of Moore's Law.

    • by AcidLacedPenguiN ( 835552 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @08:47AM (#15961628)
      I know a friend of mine got burned when buying his rig about 2 years ago, PCI-e had just come out, and he didn't expect it to kill AGP in a matter of days. So, I'd say that was a bad time to buy a midrange system. (PCI-e was at the expensive end at the time)
      • by Danse ( 1026 )

        I know a friend of mine got burned when buying his rig about 2 years ago, PCI-e had just come out, and he didn't expect it to kill AGP in a matter of days. So, I'd say that was a bad time to buy a midrange system. (PCI-e was at the expensive end at the time)

        Yep, I'm currently living that. I got stuck with no real upgrade path that didn't involve ripping out pretty much everything in order to upgrade my cpu and vid card. So now, on top of the cpu and vid card, I also have to buy a new motherboard, RAM, a

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      386sx, 486SLC, P60-wienie-roaster-edition, early Intel-EM64T. I think those were points not to "Buy Now".
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MightyYar ( 622222 )

        I guess I wasn't calling 1993 "recent". I had a similar experience, buying a $3000 Macintosh 68040 just before the PowerPC came out.

        There is always bad hardware out there, but the prices for existing stuff have consistently trended down. When the P60 came out, it was expensive as all hell, but that was a great time to buy a 486 machine - there was serious competition between Intel, AMD, and Cyrix. The prices were at historic lows. Yeah the Prescott with 64-bit extensions was crap, but that didn't make it a

    • Yes, I can. (Score:5, Funny)

      by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <> on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @08:58AM (#15961694) Homepage Journal
      Can you point to a time in recent computer history where "NOW" wasn't the best time to purchase a new rig?

      Say it with me now: Itanium.

      • Say it with me now: "Nobody bought those."

        Seriously, what was it about the introduction of the Itanium that made it a bad time to buy a PC? I mean, I don't even think it was even marketed as a consumer product.

      • Even Itaniums had their place. For us they marked the end of buying big Sun servers.

        But yes, unless you lived in Duluth, Minnesota and were too cheap to pay for oil or gas heat, then there was no reason to buy an Itanium.
    • by Konster ( 252488 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:03AM (#15961715)
      Yeah... 4 weeks ago the AMD 3700+ was $200.

      Now it's $99.

      NOW seems to be a pretty good time to pick up on decent processing power. NOW I can get a decent CPU for $99, a 320 GB drive for $95. ...and the list goes on. Silent 7600 GS for $110. Top name DVD recorders all day long for $28.

      I just built that system for less than $600 and it uttlerly vaporizes the box I built last year at double the price.

      But you are still on a 486 waiting for the right NOW time to upgrade.
    • The time where I bought a 16MB dimm for 400 Euro's and two weeks later they were selling at 50 Euro's in the same store? But that was so long ago that the Euro didn't even exist yet.
      • by Snorpus ( 566772 )
        I think the $1K I spent on a 425MB HD for my '030 Mac IIsi was perhaps sub-optimum... even for 1992.

      • by psicic ( 171000 )
        I still think the £125 I spent for an extra 512k of RAM for my ST was good value!!!
    • Actually, I always say the opposite to my friends and family -- if you can do without it, don't buy it till you need it because it will be faster & cheaper by then.

      Don't need that new hard drive right now? Wait a little and you might get a 500GB drive for what you would've paid for that new 200GB one. Ditto on CPUs, etc. If you think you might like it later, buy it later. It'll be better or at least cheaper by the time you get it.
    • by dc29A ( 636871 )
      I like the "NOW is a great time to buy..." argument for anything that improves steadily over time. Can you point to a time in recent computer history where "NOW" wasn't the best time to purchase a new rig?

      Plenty of times. Usually when new architectures are coming out, Socket 754, 939, 775, AM2 and whatnot. During these times the generation of sockets before the "new" one is pretty cheap. Also the new socket might be a transitional socket like 754 that won't last for long time.

      Now is NOT always the best tim
    • Well, there really are "NOW is a great time to buy..." moments. It's not when the vendor's say it, and not necessarily when a reviewer says it either.

      It's a great time to buy when: at least one competitor is under scrutiny for investors to show performance (incentive to do anything to boost sales), when product quality and features reach a level of parity (price becomes dominant deciding factor in purchase), when volume sales approach parity (more price pressure plus looking for new market angles), and as a
    • by cnettel ( 836611 )
      Uh, what about a Pentium D a month ago? (before the most recent price cuts)
      • And so you think that these processors are "bucking the trend", and that if you don't buy them now you will miss the boat? If that is your opinion, then back it up by hoarding them. If they are more expensive next year you could make quite a bit of money. Personally, I believe that processors will continue to get cheeaper and faster, and that there is nothing special about "Now".
    • Can you point to a time in recent computer history where "NOW" wasn't the best time to purchase a new rig?

      Of course i can !
      For example do you think buying an AMD X2 just before Jully 24th of this year was a good idea ??
      Their price was announced to be cut by half at this date so clearly buying one the jully 23th, or even one or two months before would have been a very bad move, don't you think ? We're talking about a $200 price cut for a X2 3800+ (very approx converted from euros).
      Also that's the d
  • Constant Battle (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarkNemesis618 ( 908703 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @08:40AM (#15961593) Homepage
    This only extends the constant battle between AMD & Intel. Intel comes up with something better than AMD...shortly thereafter, AMD comes up with something that beats that out...and so on and so on. While I have not personally tested any of the Conroe chips, I do have 2 linux boxes, one using an Intel P4 & the other an AMD Athlon64. Both run Ubuntu perfectly. Pretty much what I'm trying to say is simply that in a month or two, or when AMD comes out with their next line of CPUs, the discussion will just restart.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I think the significance of the Conroe is that it is an entirely new architecture and it caught AMD off guard as their new architecture won't be out until next year. Because of this newer better chip by Intel selling at a moderate price and AMD has no product to counter it, the only defence they have is extremely reduced prices. Reduced prices means that it is a better time to buy, say an AMDx2 4200+ now than it was say, 3 weeks ago. I imagine that Intel is reducing prices on their current lines to counter
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by fitten ( 521191 )
        You realize that a 4x4 machine with cost several thousands of dollars (USD) and that there are only a couple/three games that are multithreaded, right? Not only that but from everything that has been released so far, the 4x4 looks like a panic stricken kneejerk reaction to Core 2 Duo and seems to be nothing more than a (potentially cheaper) dual socket, dual core Opteron that uses unregistered memory on a motherboard with two PCIe x16 slots on it... these already exist except for the 2xx(x) Opterons that u
        • I'm just saying that Intel has this shiney new processor and AMD doesn't have one to compete with, so until they release one, they have to cut the price in an effort to get the people who want a decent machine for low price.The only one we know about is the 4x4, I assumed that since it is the only new processor from AMD, that it would be (or have a model directed at) made for consumers.
          I don't understand your argument that only a couple games are multithreaded. If this is your argument against multicore, wh
      • Caught off guard? Um, try again. Just because a company doesn't releae a new core every 8 days doesn't mean they're not cooking something up. A big part of my job at AMD is performance analysis. We do a lot of studies which get fed through various channels to better optimize the final design.

        I've known about Core 2 for at least the better part of this year now. I suspect [*] that AMD mgmt knew about it as well, just a hunch.

        I have to object to the "no product to counter it". Aside from the shared L2,
        • by TheLink ( 130905 )
          Well currently the X2 seems to lose most benchmarks to the Core 2 Duo (in all sorts of apps too). And this is for the same clock speeds.

          Any significant new architecture lined up for AMD cpus in the near future? I don't see signs of any. Going quad core would be reducing the X2 advantage of higher memory performance per core. I don't think the volume market is going to snap up quad cores at prices that will make AMD happy.

          Unless the X2 can clock WAY higher than the Core 2 Duo, it's going to be a slower CPU i
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by tomstdenis ( 446163 )
            Well clearly I can't comment about future plans from AMD. Just that the next revision beyond F will address some of the Core 2 specific optimizations.

            But also keep in mind benchmarks can say anything. You think Core 2 is the better processor? Ok, drop 8 of them in a HPC system and run 50 independent tasks on them from researchers all over the world. You think your 4MB cache helps when you have so much pollution? There are applications where K8 is STILL the better choice by far.

            Most benchmarks Intel pic
        • I see. . . Though you can still look at it from a consumer standpoint. . . Intel releases new next-gen cpu x (c2d), AMD releases same gen cpu y (am2). Some people who don't know any better will buy the Intel cpu simply because it is newer without any consideration as to which processor they need/can afford.
          • Agreed. However, releasing a new cpu more often also carries costs and risks. Ramping up production of a processor costs a lot of money, if the processor doesn't live long [core 1] or is a flop [IA] then you lose money. Worse, because you're spending less time on testing you have the increased probability of fatal non-workaroundable errata. Not that AMD processors are perfect but I don't really any bugs in AMD processors that can't [or aren't] fixed with appropriate BIOS updates.

  • Back and forth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LaughingCoder ( 914424 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @08:48AM (#15961636)
    There was one really important point at the end of the article that should not be overlooked:

    Also keep in mind that AMD has yet to go to a 65nm manufacturing process.

    AMD remains competitive with Intel, even though they are still at 90nm. Speed goes up and power goes down with die scaling! Now, clearly the Core2 is the fastest processor you can buy today, and Intel is (smartly) offering speed grades in the mid-price range in order to try and "buy back" the enthusiasts. But AMD will get a nice speed bump when they bring 65nm on line. Of course Intel is not standing still either, as they are aggressively moving towards 45nm.

    I love capitalism.
    • Re:Back and forth (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MrFlibbs ( 945469 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:33AM (#15961940)
      A good point, but keep in mind that the performance and power differences between Prescott (90nm) and Cedarmill (65nm) were decidely underwhelming. The greater leakage current in Intel's 65nm process ate into most of the gains from the smaller process. It did make the die smaller and thus cheaper, but not much better in either performance or power consumption.

      Perhaps the AMD/IBM SOI process will do better at 65nm in controlling leakage current and provide the needed performance boost. Intel plans to release the 45nm Penryn in 2H07, and claims to have greatly improved the leakage current situation. AMD needs to leapfrom Conroe's performance with their 65nm part to remain competitive. Schedule is critical here: if Intel is late, AMD will regain momemtum; if AMD is late, Penryn will make the 65nm AMD part unattractive.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      as someone from a related industry, I know thatr what intel calls '65nm' by virtue of gate length, is not 'as small' as your next fabber's '65nm'. It serves to impress the shareholders, though. Take these numbers with a grain of salt.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by fitten ( 521191 )
      Don't forget also that there are plenty of people who are getting 3.6GHz and higher on Core2Duo on standard air coolers (some hit 4GHz) and all this is on 65nm processes. Intel has clearly and obviously launched these at competitive speeds (just enough to trump AMD parts) while still having lots of headroom. As soon as AMD launches their 3.0GHz or 3.2GHz parts, Intel will release 3.33GHz Core2Duos... just enough to stay a little ahead of AMD. Intel has enough headroom to do this for the next year with cu
    • Speed goes up and power goes down with die scaling!

      This isn't automatic. Intel basically changed their whole architecture and that IS a big reason why the power went down. They used Pentium-M's core low voltage design, and since power is the square of voltage (P=V^2/R) reducing voltage a little bit will tremendously reduce power dissipated. If anything, keeping power a constant and reducing area will decrease heat dissipated, and you can now cook 2 eggs instead of 1. Anyway, changing manufacturing process

  • by MarcQuadra ( 129430 ) * on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @08:59AM (#15961701)
    I'm going to buy an e6600-based desktop in the winter, and I'm wondering if GCC will add tuning for the Core 2 processors. My guess is that '-Os -march=pentium-m -msse3 -mfpmath=sse' is the way to do it now in 32-bit mode, but there have been enough changes in the Core 2 to make for a new DFA profile, no? I thought they radically revamped the Pentium3 core, adding execution units and such.

    I just rebuilt my Core (1) Duo laptop with the aforementioned options and it seems to get me the most bang for my buck.

    From what I've read, compiling and running in 32-bit mode is still the best choice for now, the Core 2 is a lot better than the EM64T pentium 4 at running 64-bit code, but still not as fast as just using the 32-bit code (stuff like video encoding is happening in the 128-bit vector unit anyway, and I don't need more than 4GB addressable space).
    • by Agelmar ( 205181 ) *
      No, the way to do it is -march=nocona

      Then, if you want to do 32-bit, just do -m32, and -m64 for 64-bit
      • by Agelmar ( 205181 ) *
        Also, you should note that in 64-bit mode, there are more registers available. If you're running a native 64-bit environment, there's a good chance the same app recompiled as a 64-bit app will run marginally faster.

        At least, that's been my experience. (Running core 2 extreme on gentoo)
        • I've been looking at benchmarks and such and 64-bit is faster by a few percent, because of the extra registers and some ops fitting into one instruction rather than two, but the difference in convenience for me is HUGE. I primarily use this machine as my workstation, and I encode a fair amount of video on it. If my encoding takes a few extra minutes and I can still use the Adobe Flash plugin and VMWare Workstation 5, I'm a happy camper. Its worth staying in 32-bit mode until everything I need is 64-bit nati
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by MarcQuadra ( 129430 ) *
        I thought 'nocona' would get you all the instruction sets you wanted, but the execution core and scheduling of the Core 2 are much closer to the Pentium-M. You might be better off specifying 'Pentium-M' and using switches to enable SSE3. The Core and Core 2 are much closer to the i686 (P3) than they are to the NetBurst (P4) under the hood, even though the Core series can chew on a lot of the newer SIMD instructions and shares an FSB with some Pentium 4s.
    • by fitten ( 521191 )
      Don't forget that Core 2 Duo's SSE unit can retire an instruction per clock now (as opposed to every other clock as previous Intel chips (and AMD ones)). I'm not sure if gcc 'knows' about that, though, so it may not schedule SSE instructions back-to-back as it should (resulting in lower SSE/fpu performance than it could achieve).
      • That's exactly what I'm worried about. The GCC developers still allow new DFA profiles to be added during point-releases. Someone ought to write one for these new CPUs so we can get the best buck:bang ratio.
  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:41AM (#15961998)
    >>> 'Now is a great time to be CPU shopping... you have great choice for both CPUs and motherboards.... keep in mind that NVIDIA has the nForce series for Intel CPUs which would give you SLI support for all your Quake Wars and UT2007 gaming needs

    Umm nope. Iv'e been trying to buy the bits to make a no-compromises gaming PC and can't get anywhere at all.
    Products that have been actually reviewed, benchmarked and advertised for weeks but are still not available to actually buy include:
    * a retail core2 X6800 CPU (I want the official fan too)
    * any motherboard with Nvidia 590 sli intel ed. chipset
    * the fastest memory (corsair 6400c3)
    and finally not yet reviewed but:
    * the new Nvidia GPU that will do directX 10 (for vista comaptability)
    If you were to buy a non-directx 10 top-end GPU now you'd be crazy.

    The worst offender is Intel. I don't know why even now about a month after the core2 launch you still can't find a retail x6800 extreme anywhere. I'm guessing intel are just letting the big builders like Dell grab the entire supply still. Intel shouldn't just feed those guys without putting some out on the street too.
    • Actually, retail x6800 extremes at least the easiest to find. They were avaliable a week before any of the others. But then the price was $1200+.

      I personally bought a OEM E6600 on August 7th. The store, MicroCenter, only had four of them.
      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )
        For the last month of I've been searching all the online stores, froogle, and anantech RTPE every day.
        Ironically, right after writing the comment above I did my usual daily search and found newegg now have actually got some in stock (at least according to their website).
        woo hoo! order placed.

        Now all I have to do is find the rest of the stuff :-)
  • These programs may not fork() but they probably pthread_create() so I wouldn't go around saying that they are single threaded, esp the ray tracer.

    What I found to be the most interesting finding is the performance of athlon64 and core2duo in 32 vs 64bit mode. Athlon64 have better 64bit performance/price even if they have slightly slower benchmarks. Also I think we need more benchmarks for low cost processors, you know the ones that average users purchase. I'm sick of benchmarks of ferrari's vs lamborghini's
  • by matt me ( 850665 ) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @01:04PM (#15963707)
    Using Linux we're very lucky that we can build a kernel and applications optimised to our *specific* hardware utilising any special features and experience greater performance gains compared to users of most other operating systems say windows who are stuck with a generalised kernel that has to run on a majority of hardware from the last ten years and are stuck with a single set of binaries. Even with 64 bit windows most the applications you use will have to be run in emulation32 mode, so you won't get the same performance gains in the places you really need them, not explorer but video processing etc.
  • I have a Conroe E6600 running FreeBSD. Those of us who use FreeBSD often use the 'make buildworld' process as a poor-man's benchmark. With -j2, I am now getting 20 minute buildworlds, which is, in my view, remarkable for both the power and monetary budget of the machine.
  • by smilindog2000 ( 907665 ) <> on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @03:26PM (#15964805) Homepage
    AMD is apparently already making 65nm parts for Dell, supposedly available next month! See: []

Basic is a high level languish. APL is a high level anguish.