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Ars Evaluates Core 2 Duo in Latest System Guide 88

RevDobbs writes "I always take a peek at the Ars Technica System Guides before white-boxing my next PC. Well, today I hit the site and see that they recently published their first post-Core 2 Duo System Guide." From the article: "The new Intel Core 2 Duo processors bring a swift change to the Hot Rod, making the lifespan of Socket AM2 very brief in the Hot Rod. Performance from the Core 2 Duo (aka, Conroe) appears to be excellent in all regards, from pure performance to heat output. Overclocking prospects also look excellent, with an overclocked Core 2 Duo being an amazingly fast chip for the money."
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Ars Evaluates Core 2 Duo in Latest System Guide

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  • by Cybert4 ( 994278 ) * on Friday August 25, 2006 @04:11PM (#15981754)
    Intel is doing a lot of things right. This is a common core from laptop to server. Keeping it simple--AMD has a lot to worry about. I wonder about what a giant leap in energy issues would do. For example, greatly reduce power reduction at the transistor level. The whole issue of power usage would go away--and you'd have Intel and AMD racing for performance as they did in the late 1990's. The Conroe is a great processor, but a lot of effort went toward being miserly.

    And I'm still waiting for an architecture change. How about finally retiring the byte as a base logical unit? In return, just use the bit, or whatever word length the machine is.

    • by bwthomas ( 796211 ) <bwthomas@NoSPAm.gmail.com> on Friday August 25, 2006 @04:17PM (#15981810)

      Yeay! do away with the byte!

      Also, i can't wait until we've got clockless quantum holographic computers booting off of non-volatile ramdisks and cooled by eskimo flatulence ...

      By the way, your hover car is getting towed.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by rtaylor ( 70602 )
        cooled by eskimo flatulence

        Dude, you're getting a Smell!
    • by tomstdenis ( 446163 ) <tomstdenis@gmail . c om> on Friday August 25, 2006 @04:20PM (#15981840) Homepage
      Um, the laptop processors were the same as the desktop in the 754 pin category. And in the Socket A they were ALSO compatible with the desktops.

      And the move from K7 -> K8 brought about 90nm SOI which greatly reduced power and heat issues. A similarly clocked K8 would easily run 10-15C cooler than a K7 at idle.

      AMD has plans to move to 65nm and 45nm. I won't say when [cuz that's secret and frankly I don't remember anyways]. They're just not rolling out a completely new core every other month to avoid wasting time supporting really short lived products.

      Conroe seems like a decent design. Until I build a box with one I can't really say. If all the hype is true though it's a good competitor to AMD K8, not a replacement, certainly in a lot of server oriented computing tasks.

      Tom
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        AMD has plans to move to 65nm and 45nm.


        Intel is already on 65nm. The last I read about AMD's move to 65nm on the tech sites was that it was next year, by the time Intel will already be moving to 45nm. AMD is officially a generation behind in that department.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by tomstdenis ( 446163 )
          Intel is the first but not always the best. Their move to 90nm for instance led to Prescott processors hotter than the sun. Granted their move to 65nm was a lot smoother, being first isn't always the goal.

          Frankly, even given where I work I'm happy that Intel is turning out good [or at least better] hardware. We all win when technology is getting neatoer.

          Tom
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Intel is already on 65nm. The last I read about AMD's move to 65nm on the tech sites was that it was next year, by the time Intel will already be moving to 45nm. AMD is officially a generation behind in that department.

          I'm reading rumor and news leaks that say more along the lines of Q4/2006 for the 65nm production. The new Opteron socket F CPUs are due out soon and I'm not sure whether they're going to be 90nm or 65nm. And that could slip until 1Q/2007 or later of course. (I confess that I mostly sca
    • by Surt ( 22457 )
      And I'm still waiting for an architecture change. How about finally retiring the byte as a base logical unit? In return, just use the bit, or whatever word length the machine is./i?

      This has already happened. The base logical unit on conroe is the 64bit longword. You can access bits and bytes (and 32bits) within that of course, since that's a necessity for various kinds of programs.
    • Energy Issues (Score:2, Insightful)

      by DaveWick79 ( 939388 )
      With the Core 2 Duo processor, there has been quite a significant leap in energy issues. While the current trend for the past 4 or 5 years has been to beef clock speeds and performance at the expense of power consumption, Intel's major stride has been to drastically increase performance while cutting power consumption in half. If AMD can match this power consumption (Intel's chips currently run at 40W according to their information), then we can concentrate again on having a speed war. The effort that we
  • by SeanTobin ( 138474 ) * <byrdhuntrNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Friday August 25, 2006 @04:18PM (#15981818)
    from the can-i-have-a-god-box-please dept.
    Wait just a minute! A "God Box" wasn't mentioned in the article summary. This can only mean one thing... Zonk must have read the article before posting. What is this world coming to?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    But to save some money, I'm going to put linux on it.

    Jesus Christ, under what circumstance would you build a desktop machine that powerful and use linux?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Phillup ( 317168 )
      Jesus Christ, under what circumstance would you build a desktop machine that powerful and use linux?

      Seems like, if you are building a god box... you simply want the very best.

      The real question is: which Linux.

      ;-)
    • by 5pp000 ( 873881 )
      Jesus Christ, under what circumstance would you build a desktop machine that powerful and use linux?

      That's right! Clearly, the only way to go on a box like that is Solaris!

      • Interesting suggestion. How fast does Solaris 10 run these days?
        • by 5pp000 ( 873881 )
          Well, I was only half serious -- I'm running Solaris on my quad Opteron, but most people probably wouldn't want to. Indeed, I would really rather run Linux myself, except that the Linux kernel has a terrible performance problem on the particular workload I care most about. It's a data mining application written in Lisp; I routinely run process sizes between 5GB and 20GB. Even at the low end of that range, the Linux kernel, under certain circumstances, bogs down badly and the machine becomes unresponsive.
    • Under what circumstance would you build a desktop machine that powerful and not be able to boot into a zillion different OSes?
  • We have a God Box (hideously old campus tour picture here) [iit.edu] at IIT [wikipedia.org]. It's the only building designed by "less is more" Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for purely religious purposes. It's not really for sale, though if someone would like to pay for the renovation, I'm sure we could work something out.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      We have a God Box at IIT. It's the only building designed by "less is more"

      I had a God Box that was a modded commode (water cooled too). It was inspired by my roommate -- "more or less" -- who used to pray to the porcelain god around 2am every Sunday morning.

      • ...and while they are scarce admidst the legions of slashdotters, any of them who have gotten lucky have had a god box, too. "oh god, oh god!"
  • I'm set on getting a E6600, but am still unsure about what motherboard I should get. The Asus P5B Deluxe WiFi-AP looks alright Seems like a lot of them aren't in stock yet, any other recommendations for one in the sub $300 category? thanks, Chris
    • by Ayanami Rei ( 621112 ) * <rayanami@gma i l . com> on Friday August 25, 2006 @05:19PM (#15982251) Journal
      There isn't a decent board for the Conroe that's under $250.
      Either they don't support DDR2800 (anything less is a waste), or they don't have SLI, or they're missing amenities like firewire or decent onboard sound.
      A "budget" Conroe system is difficult to spec since unless you go DDR2800 you aren't going to have much over a DDR400/DDR500-based AMD K8 system (and I'm not talking AM2, but the same logic applies). Memory bandwidth is a bottleneck for performance and usability. Despite Conroe's advances in CPU power, most situations where you wait for the computer are not CPU bound (unless you are heavy into movie/music decoding/compression). An bus-overclocked low power K8 (like the Opteron Denmark) can still beat a Conroe system in memory throughput.
      DDR2800 brings this to parity but then you are not talking about a cheap system anymore; it's everything EXCEPT for the CPU that costs too much.

      Hopefully in the next few months we'll see price drops in DDR2 memory and more competetion in the Core-2 Duo compatible motherboards. This should make them more affordable and help to shake out the gold implementations.
      • There isn't a decent board for the Conroe that's under $250. Either they don't support DDR2800 (anything less is a waste), or they don't have SLI, or they're missing amenities like firewire or decent onboard sound.

        If you aren't a hardcore gamer (but want instead a workstation or light-duty server), no reason to care about no SLI. And not that many people use Firewire (I have a Mac and even I haven't used it in quite a while).
      • DDR2 is already cheaper than DDR. Go price 1GB of each on newegg.

        Your idea of "decent" in motherboards is crazy. You are talking a very high spec board here. These kind of boards will cost a lot, for any platform. I looked on Newegg, there are only two Conroe boards that cost over $250, and each includes a WiFi interface with built in access point! Similar boards to these for AM2 cost $200, so the difference isn't all that much anyway.
        • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Your idea of "decent" in motherboards is crazy. You are talking a very high spec board here. These kind of boards will cost a lot, for any platform. I looked on Newegg, there are only two Conroe boards that cost over $250, and each includes a WiFi interface with built in access point! Similar boards to these for AM2 cost $200, so the difference isn't all that much anyway.

          You're out of touch. Most of the boards out there that say they support Conroe actually don't. They're either very unstable or have fe

          • by bsims ( 895751 )

            You're out of touch. Most of the boards out there that say they support Conroe actually don't. They're either very unstable or have features that don't work with it, and/or require BIOS updates in order to run with a Conroe chip at all. Even then there's no indication of how stable they'll be.

            That's why I am looking at the Intel D975XBX.

            Intel says it does Conroe and I guess they should know. All that and great Linux support, what more do you need? Well besides a IDE controller card (I intend to reuse

            • by quag7 ( 462196 )
              I am typing on a system right now using the Intel "Bad Axe" D975XBX with an E6700 Core 2 Duo.. I am not an overclocker or anything, but so far this system has been rock stable and Gentoo Linux slid onto it like butter. I only have one hard drive and don't use RAID so I haven't tested that but onboard sound, all of the drive controllers, firewire, and so on were automatically detected by Linux.

              *** Make sure if you are ordering the Intel D975XBX that it has a BIOS revision of at least 204. *** I've read th
          • But it isn't true. I priced the same mobos for both platforms. The AM2s aren't half price, they are $60 cheaper. These are top of the line boards, as the parent suggested, they are stable and the features work.

            If you want to compare across brands, go ahead. We'll never settle that argument because you'll say that the comparisons I make aren't proper because the cheaper boards I suggest aren't stable but the cheaper ones you suggest are. I've been there before, done that argument.

            I wouldn't buy an ASRock eit
    • Wait for the motherboards based on the NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI chipset [anandtech.com]. According to this article [anandtech.com], their release is only about a week or so away. As far as price goes, I would expect them to be somewhere between $200 and $250, like their AM2 counterparts. As soon as these boards hit the street, I'm gonna pick me up one and a E6600 and build my first Intel-based system since my Celeron 300 (overclocked to 450, remember those?).
      • When I first saw the NForce 4 SLI boards for LGA775 it was on NewEgg, and I thought, that can't be right.
        But apparently the NForce MCPs were quite readily converted into an SPP and are giving the stock Intel chipsets a run for their money (while being essentially compatible with your AMD64 Nforce drivers).

        Your idea sounds pretty good. I'd probably aim for a 6300 or 6400 though, I hear they can hit 2.8, 3GHz without a voltage increase or water cooling. And while I'm too young to have experienced the Celeron
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by LIGC ( 974596 )
      If you're an overclocker, the Asus P5B's new BIOS revision supports multiplier unlocking for non Extreme Core 2 processors, as http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=2822 [anandtech.com] points out.
    • by snuf23 ( 182335 )
      I went with the one they recommend in the Hot Rod system - the Asus P5N32-SLI SE Deluxe [newegg.com].
      Fanless design, 2 x16 PCI Xpress slots for SLI, 8 phase power, 2 SATA RAID controllers, dual gig-Ethernet, firewire etc.

      Although I've heard some issues, I believe with outdated BIOS and the Conroe chips. I guess I'll see when it comes in.
    • Personally I would wait. We have review board coming in from Abit, the AW9D Max http://www.abit-usa.com/products/mb/products.php?c ategories=1&model=326/ [abit-usa.com] which looks to be a good board that I will be testing out shortly here. Between that and the upcoming Nvidia 590, and ATI's r600 chipsets, if you don't absolutely need a upgrade wait it out a bit longer. DFI's 590 board is looking promising. http://www.hexus.net/content/item.php?item=5939/ [hexus.net]
  • Or did my recollection go down?

    I seem to remember the Budget Box at $600, the Hot rod $1300, and the God box costing unholy amounts of money.

    Otherwise, we all knew that the core2 duo would get the nod: Low Power, fast, x86x64. (does the last one sound like an old memory chip?)

    $.02
    • Yes! It's almost as if the prices have grown larger over the past few years, "inflated" if you will. I wonder what strange economic force is causing the cost of these items to rise.
    • Yep, prices went up when building your own.

      Me, the local store is selling a AMD 64 X2 w. 2GB RAM AMD, dual layer DVD, 300GB HD, video card with digital and analog outputs with a 19" wide screen flat panel. As far as I can tell, the one I am looking at has workable Linux drivers for all the devices and costs $1000 CDN.

      Yes, I used to build, in fact built about 12 systems over the years. You can build them better than you can buy, but not cheaper. It does not seem like you can build them cheaper than you

    • No, prices haven't really gone up. It's just that everyone who is building a whitebox computer nowadays wants nothing less than dual core, so that's all that they are paying attention to. Dual core chips are still in the upper midrange of the CPU lineup, and even a low end dual core box is not what I would consider a budget computer. You can still build a reasonable budget box for $500-$600, it'll just be a single core system, that's all.
  • by MarcoAtWork ( 28889 ) on Friday August 25, 2006 @05:23PM (#15982279)
    I remember not that long ago when socket 939 came out that AMD said that this was going to be the socket they were going to stay on for a looong time and that the sacrifices of obsoleting the 754 and 940 were totally worth it: when AM2 came out so soon after it really made me wonder, why is there a need for a new socket right now? It's not like X2AM2 chips are that much different from X2939 ones...

    And btw, I can't believe they put only 8gigs on the highest-end box, I would think 16 would be the bare minimum, heck, I'm thinking of going to 4 gigs on my pedestrian x2-4800, you'd think that something of that calibre would be a bit better equipped.
    • by WuphonsReach ( 684551 ) on Friday August 25, 2006 @06:20PM (#15982614)
      I remember not that long ago when socket 939 came out that AMD said that this was going to be the socket they were going to stay on for a looong time and that the sacrifices of obsoleting the 754 and 940 were totally worth it: when AM2 came out so soon after it really made me wonder, why is there a need for a new socket right now? It's not like X2AM2 chips are that much different from X2939 ones...

      I sorta remember that too, so I went and looked. Socket 939 came out in June 2004 (or thereabouts). This could be part of the downside of having a built-in memory controller. Since DDR reached the end of it's reach (PC3200 seeming to be the fastest commonly available) and DDR2 commonly available, they decided to go with a new pin-out so that you couldn't mistakenly mix/match the wrong CPU with the wrong memory. Less confusion for the customer.

      At least, I think that's why the pin-out was changed... (according to the AMD FAQ it was).

      What AMD has said at this time is that the new AM3 chips (which support DDR3) will be compatible with AM2 and AM3 motherboards. So you can put an AM3 chip into an older AM2 motherboard, but not the other way 'round. We'll see if that holds true...

  • I thought it was pretty cool until I saw:

    Windows 2003 Server is an excellent OS for those seeking to use the full power of the God Box as a server.


    No, actually, to use the full power of the God Box requires something with fewer root exploits and journaling file systems...
    • No, actually, to use the full power of the God Box requires something with fewer root exploits and journaling file systems...

      Last time I checked, it was called NTFS, and it predates ext3 by almost a decade (1993 versus 2001.)

      • OK, my bad. "Something with fewer root exploits" would be enough for me. Something with lower overhead for process spawning, and with a usable scripting interface, would be nice too.
      • Re:NTFS (Score:5, Informative)

        by Russ Steffen ( 263 ) on Friday August 25, 2006 @07:21PM (#15982927) Homepage
        NTFS wasn't a journaling filesystem until v5, released with Windows 2000. Ext3 is not the only other journaled file out there. SGI's XFS, IBM's JFS, Sun's UFS logging, Veritas's VxFS, NetApp's WAFL, BSD's soft updates, and ReiserFS all predate journaled NTFS, some of them by quite a few years.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Hal_Porter ( 817932 )
          Umm, what do you mean be "wasn't journalling until v5". It's always had a transaction log file from the initial release. Check here for NT 3.1.

          http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=101670 [microsoft.com]

          The idea is it can rollback partially completed transactions and recover from bad shutdowns. Also it can do it quickly without searching the whole filesystem for inconsistencies. That's the whole point to NTFS.

    • What complete shills! How dare they mention something from Micro$hit! Makes me sick to my stomach.

      I will never browse their site again from my GNU server, no sir! It's dead to me.
  • Two things (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iamsolidsnk ( 862065 ) on Friday August 25, 2006 @05:32PM (#15982325)
    1. Core Duo will be faster than anything AMD has released currently. That is primarily because it is manufactured with 65nm process unlike all of AMD processors which are made with the 90nm process.

    2. The push to the socket AM2 architecture was to enable DDR2 support for AMD chips. Socket 939 could not support the faster memory that is hitting the market now, such as the DDR2 800Mhz (cheaper) or the brutal DDR2 1066Mhz (save your pennies).

    AMD has stated that the AM2 platform motherboards will be able to support their next generation of chips. So if you are like me and made the plunge, your mobo won't be obsolete for a good long time.

    snake
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MrNemesis ( 587188 )
      The crazy thing is that, despite being on a seemingly ancient 90nm process, the AMD chips still seem to consume less power at idle that the core duo, at least according to Anand [anandtech.com]. That's why I'm currently sticking with my AMD's in my 24x7 boxes, which spend 99% of their time idling away.
  • I'm not entirely sure i have faith in the 'This just ups the game for AMD' argument since their stopgap measure, the 4x4 platform just seems like a bad idea. The C2D looks great and is now at a very reasonable price, but do we really need it? Speaking as someone who is still on sktA, can we really expect businesses and home users to buy into it when a ~2 year old machine still handles pretty much most things you can throw at it. I'm all for progress, but i think that at this point Moore's law has outstripp
    • It's not necessarily the business or even home users who have 2 year old systems who are upgrading to the latest technology. It's those who have 3 to 4 year old systems already in need of upgrade, those who want a system that is going to carry them through the OS'es and software that will be released in the next 3 to 4 years. In that regard, Core 2 Duo is an excellent buy, especially in a few months when prices will drop even more and Core Duo will be the entry level system. A good deal of Core 2 Duo pur
      • It's not necessarily the business or even home users who have 2 year old systems who are upgrading to the latest technology. It's those who have 3 to 4 year old systems already in need of upgrade, those who want a system that is going to carry them through the OS'es and software that will be released in the next 3 to 4 years.

        Precisely; this is why I just built a C2D 6400 to replace my frigging old P3 600MHz. The C2D, at 2.13GHz, encodes a DVD twice as fast as my other decent machine (a P4 2.8GHz). The C2D w
  • Soundcard (Score:2, Interesting)

    by edbob ( 960004 )
    I just checked out the system guide for the "Hot Rod". Since the Asus P5B Deluxe motherboard has Dolby 7.1 channel audio on board, why would one need to spend $110 on a separate audio card? Is there really a difference between on-board audio and the audio cards that are mentioned in this article?
    • by cciRRus ( 889392 )

      Is there really a difference between on-board audio and the audio cards that are mentioned in this article?

      There may be a difference in the CPU utilization of your audio (sound) processor.

      I have a MSI K8NGM2-FID motherboard that came with a Realtek 880/860 onboard sound processor. Basically, the frame rates of 3D games became noticebly lower when I had used the onboard sound processor as compared to the times when I had used a Creative Soundblaster Live! PCI card. I suppose this has to do with the contenti

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