CPU Buying Guide


What is the Core micro-architecture?

The Core micro-architecture is Intel's catch-all name for a group of technologies found in its Core 2 CPU lines. These technologies include Wide Dynamic Execution, which allows Core 2 Duo CPUs to process up to four instructions per clock cycle, and Advanced Smart Cache, which is technology that optimises the cache for use by multiple cores. More specifics on what the Core microarchitecture offers can be found at Intel's Web site, but in short, they're all technologies designed to lower the latency of a given CPU and thereby increase data efficiency.

Core 2 Duo vs Core 2 Extreme

The Core 2 Duo is a solidly performing CPU for Intel, but it's not the company's boutique chip for power users. That title falls to the Core 2 Extreme. The Extreme uses the same technology as the regular Core 2 Duo, but its clock multiplier is unlocked so it can be overclocked quite easily by power users. The first Extreme edition CPUs were released during the days of the Pentium 4 and were based upon a modified version of the Gallatin core used in Intel's Xeon processor line, but then switched to the Prescott core, which was also used in the Pentium 4 CPUs.

The differences between Extreme and non-Extreme CPUs can be numerous and can be identified by their model names. An 'X' identifies a CPU that is Extreme; for example, the Core 2 Extreme X6800 is a CPU with a 2.93GHz speed. The Core 2 Extreme QX6850 is an Extreme CPU that is also a quad-core CPU, as signified by the 'Q' in the product name. It runs at 3GHz.

What is Hyperthreading?

Hyperthreading is a technology that was used in many of Intel's Pentium 4 CPUs. As a precursor to dual-core CPUs, Hyperthreading is a technology that allows a single CPU to process multiple threads simultaneously, giving the processor a theoretical application speed boost. It shouldn't be confused with dual-core processors that actually do feature multiple CPUs in the same CPU package, and can thus perform true multi-threaded computing. Hyperthreading relies on having software that can intelligently use the Hyperthreading resources, and while plenty of applications -- including Windows XP and Vista -- are multithreaded applications, in most real-world testing Hyperthreading hasn't really been seen to generate much extra oomph.

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