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Clarkdale's Efficiency: Core i5-661 Versus Core 2, Athlon II, And Phenom II

Clarkdale's Efficiency: Core i5-661 Versus Core 2, Athlon II, And Phenom II

Intel’s new Core i3 and i5 dual-cores arrived with a bang, offering more performance than the Core 2 Duo family they’ll eventually replace. The integration of a graphics unit into the processor may be a key enabler to maximizing efficiency of LGA 1156 systems, but just how much more efficient is Intel’s new platform? We grabbed an H55-based motherboard and the Core i5-661 (centering on the Clarkdale core) to compare with Intel's Core 2 Duo E8600 and G45 chipset. We also compared against an AMD 785G-based system running both an efficient Athlon II X2 240e and the fast Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition.

Intel is working towards greater integration. The H55/H57/Q57 platforms with Core i3/i5 Clarkfield CPUs now move the graphics unit and the memory controller out of the chipset and into the processor. The memory controller was already relocated on the Core i7 (Bloomfield) in the high-end market and Core i5/i7 (Lynnfield) in the upper-mainstream. The low-end Atom platform also follows with next-generation Pine Trail, which also transitions the platform from three to only two chips. Today, though, Intel is focused on the lucrative mainstream desktop and mobile segments. For purposes here, we’ll concentrate on the desktop side.

Our technology launch article by Chris Angelini already covered all aspects of the new processors, such as the integrated HD Graphics unit, Turbo Boost in the context of integrated graphics, the additional instructions to accelerate AES encryption and decryption, and specifications and clock speeds. Now it’s time to have a closer look at system power consumption and efficiency in terms of performance per watt. Intel now has its 32nm silver bullet, which should make the dual-cores much more efficient at base clock rates. Most people expected Intel’s new dual-cores to dominate in efficiency, but we wanted to have a close look at the power characteristics.

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  • 2 Hide
    reidd105 , 6 January 2010 12:44
    I'm still trying to figure out why you're comparing a new $196 intel chip against sup $100 AMD offerings?
  • 0 Hide
    mikehunt80 , 6 January 2010 19:27
    @ reidd105
    The only answer I have now is to make Intel win on all fronts.

    I spent time yesterday writing a comment, pointing out how in Anandtech's review of the Athlon 435, they found the 240e actually uses 10 watts more power versus the 605e. The 605e can be had for around $170 and might beat the i5-661 in some video and 3d rendering tasks.

    I logged on this morning to check to see if anyone else had posted, to find that the link from the home page brings be here and the comments are missing. Below is a slightly different link to the older article.,review-31772.html

    Can someone from Toms please answer why this is going on?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 10 January 2010 00:47
    intels turbo boost + built in gpu + hyperthreading vs not oced black edition cpu + northbridge = unfair battle?

    i5-661 - 200$
    core 2 duo E8600 - 280$
    H55 mobo ~ 100$

    phenomII X2 550 - 100$
    athlon x2 240e -
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 14 January 2010 00:20
    QUOTE: "The Core i5-661 is a unique model from Intel with the family's fastest graphics clock. Its HD Graphics unit runs at 900 MHz, as opposed to the 733 MHz found on all other Core i3/i5 processors. Other than that, there are no differences between the models."

    Actualy there are, see: page 16.
    Beside the difference in graphics speed the 661 has none of the advanced hardware virtualisation technologies that the other i5's do have.
    For some that might not make any difference but it might be something to keep in mind when choosing between the i5's
  • 0 Hide
    jacky89 , 14 January 2010 21:40
    I don't understand how the performance of the Clarkdale is so much faster than the Wolfdales in this article but is about the same speed in clock for clock in other test articles such as the ones on anandtech and xbitlabs. Particularly look at the gaming fps. It is not consistent at all.