Eaglerulez's guides to building a computer Version 2.
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The Core 2 Duo: The Core 2 Duo utilizes the Conroe architecture which is intel’s newest architecture that was released very recently. Instead of sacrificing everything for speed the Core 2’s are extremely efficient. In fact one of the cheapest Core 2's the E4300 which only clocks in at 1.80 Ghz can outperform an Athlon 64 X2 4200 which is clocked at 2.2 Ghz, a way faster frequency. So why can this baby out perform an Athlon? Well for one it has a shared L2 cache. In most other dual core processors, each core was given only a fixed amount of cache. This meant if a core needed more memory it would have to use slower alternatives by borrowing the memory from other sources. If an equation didn’t require all of the L2 cache memory, the whole L2 cache memory would still be used, although it had no effect on the performance, meaning more heat would be produced, and more energy would be drawn. However with a shared L2 cache, each core can take however much it needs. So if it needs more for a certain equation, it is readily available. While if it doesn’t need a lot of memory, power can still be saved by not dedicating the whole cache. The two cheapest Core 2’s have a shared 2MB L2 cache, while the later ones have a shared 4MB cache. In older processors this would mean each core would get 1 or 2MB, but now each core can use however much it needs. The Core 2’s are the best buy you can get today. The cheapest one is only about 100 dollars; it is a fast dual core processor, and is extremely energy, and information efficient. It is said to have roughly a 30% performance increase against its’ priced equivalents. The other value of the Core 2 Duo's is that they can overclock very well, allowing a budget 1.8Ghz Core 2 Duo to reach speeds of 3.3Ghz.
Finally, the last and most minor form of determining a CPU’s speed is its process type. What this means is how close the transistors in the CPU are together. Generally the closer together the transistors the less energy they have to use to communicate, meaning less heat, and overall better efficiency. The way this is expressed is in nanometers or NM. Meaning the transistors are only a certain number of nanometers apart. Most Athlon processors run on a 90NM process, while the new core 2’s run on a 65NM process (also contributing to why they are so efficient). As time goes on the processes will get smaller and smaller, meaning more cores can be fit into a single CPU wafer. For instance the new quad core processors that are out run on a mere 45Nm process which is why they can fit 4 processing cores on a single waffer, since everything is so compact together. The advantage of smaller process types is usually found when overclocking, since cores with smaller process types draw less energy and produce less heat, and are therefore ideal for reaching higher clock speeds.
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