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The Core 2 Duo Evolution

Santa Rosa will feature an all new Core 2 Duo chip with a number of enhancements over the outgoing processor. Like the Merom chip before it, the new Core 2 Duo will feature up to 4MB of on-die cache, but there are plenty of other changes. First up, the new chip utilises an 800MHz Front Side Bus, while the outgoing one was limited to a 667MHz FSB. This will speed up overall system performance, although there’s more to the new FSB than just its speed.

In an effort to promote even better battery life at every opportunity, Intel hasn’t just increased the FSB speed, it has also made the FSB dynamically switching. This means that when the notebook is in a low power active state, as when playing back a DVD, the FSB can throttle back, thus saving battery life.

Intel has also improved the power saving when in an idle state. With the Enhanced Deeper Sleep state, both the CPU cores and the chipset will power down, thus drawing as little power as possible, without actually shutting the system down completely.

But for me one of the best features of the new chip is Intel’s Dynamic Acceleration Technology. Despite the fact that dual or even multi-core environments are clearly the way forward, Intel is well aware that a great many applications still execute via a single thread. When this occurs you end up with one core running at full whack, while the other sits there twiddling its thumbs.

Now, Intel started to address this problem with its Smart Cache technology that was first seen in the Core Duo chip over a year ago. Rather than allocating cache to each CPU core, Smart Cache was a single pool of memory that both cores had access to, the upshot being that if only one core was under load, it had access to all the cache rather than just its allocated portion.

Dynamic Acceleration takes the model a step further by balancing the allocation of resource even more carefully. When a Santa Rosa platform is executing a single threaded application it will actually switch off one of the CPU cores, thus eliminating wasted cycles. But the innovation doesn’t stop there, once the second core is idle, the clock speed on the active core will be increased to improve performance. Intel has also been very careful not to affect the TDP envelope, so increasing the frequency on the active core will produce the same amount of heat as if both cores were running at the standard clock.

With Dynamic Acceleration Intel has created an extremely versatile mobile platform that will perform as efficiently as possible, regardless of what type of application is being executed. Gaming notebooks will obviously benefit from this technology, where most games run in a single threaded environment. Firing up a game will, to all intents and purposes, give you a faster CPU to play with.

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