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Dual-Core Versus Quad-Core

Comparing Intel Core 2 Duo/Quad processors of new and old generations.

May 26, 2008



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This time we'll try our new test procedure in an interesting but "academic" research. This article won't feature many new processors. All the four contenders belong to the Intel Core 2 family, and the main problems addressed in this article have nothing to do with the question which model is the fastest.

It's very interesting to compare quad-core processors with dual-core ones, as the cheapest Intel Core 2 Quad (Q6600) already costs about $200. This price border separates CPUs for well-off users from popular processors on the Russian market. So common users may be tempted to buy a real quad-core processor, even if it does not operate at a high clock rate. We only have to find out whether it's an objectively expedient decision. Of course, a quad-core processor will always be more expensive than a dual-core processor on the same core operating at the same frequency, it will consume more power and get hotter. Besides, a quad-core processor needs a more efficient and thus either a more expensive or noisier cooler, and probably a more powerful power supply unit... So, if the above-mentioned issues are not compensated by a serious advantage in performance, this whole idea will make no sense. That's what we'll find out in this article.

Our contenders include only two relatively new processors - Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 on Wolfdale core and Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 on Yorkfield core. If you are interested in details, you can read our article about Core 2 Extreme QX9650, which describes differences between Yorkfield and older quad-core Kentsfield. What concerns differences between Wolfdale and Conroe, they fall within the description in this article for the only exception - they are dual-core processors.

Hardware and Software

Testbed configurations

CPU Motherboard Memory Video
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 ASUS Maximus Extreme Corsair CM3X1024-1800C7DIN GeForce 8800 GTX
Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 ASUS Maximus Extreme Corsair CM3X1024-1800C7DIN GeForce 8800 GTX
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 ASUS Maximus Extreme Corsair CM3X1024-1800C7DIN GeForce 8800 GTX
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 ASUS Maximus Extreme Corsair CM3X1024-1800C7DIN GeForce 8800 GTX
  • Memory: 4 GB (4 x 1 GB modules)
  • HDD: Samsung HD401LJ (SATA-2)
  • Cooler: Thermaltake TMG i1
  • Power supply unit: Cooler Master RS-A00-EMBA
Processor Core 2 Duo E6600 Core 2 Duo E7200 Core 2 Quad Q6600 Core 2 Quad Q9300
Codename Conroe Wolfdale Kentsfield Yorkfield
Process technology, nm 65 45 65 45
Core clock, GHz 2.4 2.53 2.4 2.5
# of cores 2 2 4 4
L1 cache, I/D, KB* 32/32 32/32 32/32 32/32
L2 cache, KB** 4096 3072 8192 6144
FSB clock***, MHz 266 (1066) 266 (1066) 266 (1066) 333 (1333)
Multiplier 9 9.5 9 7.5
Socket LGA775 LGA775 LGA775 LGA775
Heat dissipation**** 65 W 65 W 95 W 95 W

* - in multi-core processors - per single core
** - "X x Y" means "X KB per each of Y cores"
*** In AMD processors this is memory controller bus clock rate;
**** Measured differently for Intel and AMD processors; impossible to compare directly.

Software

  64-bit application Multi-threaded application*
Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP2 + +
Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 + +
Autodesk 3ds max 9 SP2 + +
V-Ray 1.5 SP1 + +
Autodesk Maya 2008 Ultimate + +
NewTek Lightwave 3D 9.2 + +
SolidWorks 2007 SP0.0 + +
PTC Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 3.0 M120 + -
UGS NX5 5.0.0.25 + +
Wolfram Research Mathematica 6 + +
MapleSoft Maple 11 - +
MathWorks MATLAB 2007 + +
Adobe Photoshop CS3 10.0 - +
Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 + +
Apache HTTP Server 2.2.8 - +
PHP 5.2.5 - +
MySQL Community Server 5.0.51a - +
ACDSee 10 Photo Manager - +
xat.com Image Optimizer 5.10 - -
IrfanView 4.10 - -
XnView 1.93.4 - -
Paint.NET 3.30 + +
7-Zip 4.57 + +
WinRAR 3.71 - +
UltimateZip 3.2 - -
FLAC 1.2.1 - -
LAME-MT 3.97 + +
Musepack MPC Encoder 1.16 - -
Nero Digital Audio Encoder 1.1.34.2 - +
Ogg Encoder 2.83 (Lancer) - +
Canopus ProCoder 3.0 - +
DivX Codec 6.8.2 - +
XviD Codec 1.1.3 Final - -
x264 Codec rev 807 - +
VirtualDub 1.8.0 - +
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (Patch 1.5) - +
Call of Juarez (Patch 1.1.0.0) + DX10 Enhancements Pack - -
Crysis (Patch 1.2) + +
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. (Patch 1.006) - +
Unreal Tournament 3 (Patch 1.2) - +
Company of Heroes (Patch 1.71) - +
World in Conflict (Patch 1.007) - +

* Means that two or more simultaneously active threads are actually present during tests; not just the fact that a process generates several threads.


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