Under the big top (we're in a giant air-conditioned tent), Intel released Core 2 Duo, its latest line of processors. Core 2 Duo marks the first time Intel has used the same architecture across its entire line of server, desktop, and notebook processors. The company is billing the Core architecture as the biggest launch since the Pentium processor first went on sale 13 years ago. And rightfully so. By abandoning NetBurst, which was the architecture introduced with the Pentium 4, Intel-based desktops now enjoy some of the same performance and power savings that Intel notebooks have known since the introduction of the first Pentium M. According to Intel spokespeople onsite, Core 2 Duo Extreme Edition desktops are both 40 percent faster and 40 percent more efficient than prior-generation Pentium 4s.
Demonstrations showcased both the multitasking performance and the raw speed of these new CPUs. One machine equipped with a 2.93GHz Extreme Edition managed to keep Quake 4 pumping out 139.7 frames per second (fps) while running a virus scan. Another similarly equipped rig managed a maximum frame rate on F.E.A.R. that topped out at more than 500fps and averaged 169fps. A demo during the keynote used a new gaming engine under development by Offset to render what Intel chief sales and marketing officer Sean Maloney called "Shrek-like" character animation in real time. An incredible streaming video of the demo is available.
If you're not a gamer and the Extreme Edition (along with its extreme price of more than $900 for the processor alone) sounds like a bit much for you, fear not. Intel's other Core 2 Duo desktop configurations should make their way into home and office desktops, with performance increases as well. The first batch of systems to pass through CNET Labs has been impressive, with prices ranging fromto .
Though Intel PR had little in the way of hard numbers to share, it ran a Microsoft Office demo that recalculated an Excel spreadsheet while simultaneously conducting a virus scan. The recalculation took about 20 seconds on a 2.66GHz Core 2 Duo-powered machine and about a minute on a 3.8GHz Pentium 4. Non-Extreme Edition configurations include 1.86GHz and 2.13GHz chips with 2MB of cache in addition to 2.4GHz and 2.66GHz chips with a whopping 4MB of cache. Extreme Edition chips are in stores today, while other Core 2 Duo desktops will start shipping throughout August.