10 things you need to know about Intel's Core 2 Duo (aka "Conroe")
This summer, Core 2 Duo is coming to a PC near you—and it's fast. Lead analyst Joel Santo Domingo dishes on what Conroe is—and isn't—all about.
By Joel Santo Domingo
1. Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Extreme will be the fastest processors available. Faster than the Pentium EE, thanks to new techniques like Smart Cache and Wide Dynamic Execution—and, according to preliminary results, faster than the AMD FX62.
2. Core 2 Duo overtakes the Pentium as the name in processors. Farewell Pentium: There will never be a Pentium 5, 6, or XX. A brief moment of silence, please.
3. For the first time, Intel has specifically created one unified Core architecture for all categories: Conroe (desktops), Merom (notebooks), and Woodcrest (workstation/servers). All are based on Intel's Core technologies, and all three are dual-core processors with shared enhancements.
4. All three variations (Conroe, Merom, and Woodcrest) will provide more computing power and use less energy. This will help laptops extend their battery life. It will also enable system builders to come out with thinner desktops and workstations, since lower energy means less heat, which results in fewer fans hogging case space.
5. Expanding on that, lower power also means that the fans used will be slower, so your system will be quieter. With more PCs landing in the living room or in quiet dens, "quiet" is more important than ever.
6. Core 2 Duo is, for now, engineered to drop right into current Pentium D/EE (LGA775) motherboards. This will make upgraders happy—especially those who bought the latest and greatest PC last summer—and system manufacturers, who don't need to buy a bunch of different parts—yet.
7. Multitasking moves to the next level. With Core 2 Duo's virtualization technology, you can turn one physical PC into several virtual systems, all running different applications and OSs. For example, theoretically you could run an FTP server on one, a Web server on another, have a database running on a third, and still be playing a game or surfing on a fourth. This is a boon for developers who want to keep "clean" virtual machines running.
8. Today, only business PCs have the TPM 1.2 protection chip built in. With Core 2 Duo, all PCs will be protected. TPM (Trusted Platform Module) protects your passwords, logons, and personal data at a hardware level from hackers, spyware, and identity thieves.
9. About the lame code-naming convention: Conroe, Merom, and Woodcrest don't exactly call to mind "speed" or "kickin' performance." Intel's desktop and workstation CPU design offices are in Oregon, California, and Texas, so it makes sense that the towns of Conroe (Texas) and Woodcrest (California) are represented in Intel's code names. And Merom? That's an ancient lake in Israel, so two guesses where the laptop chips are engineered.
10. When can you get one? Intel wants its Core 2 Duo processors in systems within a few weeks of the official launch, which rumor mills have as the last week of July. Look for systems in early August.