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New Intel Penryn Mobile Processors

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MattSlagle View Drop Down
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  Quote MattSlagle Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: New Intel Penryn Mobile Processors
    Posted: 06 May 2008 at 2:04pm

New Intel Penryn Mobile Processors

Intel's newest mobile line of processors, Penryn, have been available since January 2008.  It is a successor to the first Core 2 mobile processor, Merom.  The Penryn features faster clock frequencies while keeping the power usage within the same limits as the older models.  This means more performance for laptop users while keeping battery life to the maximum.  Intel is able to achieve this by shrinking the die size to 45 nm from 65 nm.


Now the Penryn is not just a die shrink of the Merom.  Its architecture has been tweaked to allow faster execution of of commands while running at the same clock speed.  The 50% bigger (4 MB to 6 MB) of L2 cache also allows for more efficient multi-threaded execution.

Die Shrinkage

The die shrink from 65 nm to 45 nm.  This allows for faster clock speeds while keeping within the thermal limits.

Dynamic Acceleration Technology

Penryn processors are able to increase the clock speed while running single-threaded applications.  It does so whenever it has the thermal headroom to do so.  It is in essence overclocking itself whenever its other core is sitting idle.  Most of the time the thermal headroom is very small so running at a higher than normal clock speed happens only every few seconds for short bursts.

Deeper Sleep State

Penryn is able to achieve a deeper sleep state with only the bare essential electronics powered.  This happens when the processor is idle and saves power when the processor is not needed.

SSE4 Support

This processor is now able to fully take advantage of SSE4 commands.  This new command set includes more efficient instructions for multi-core processors which allow for faster application and gaming performance.

Lets go over the different models and variants of the new Penryn series.

Core 2 Solo

Release Date:     May 2008

Model Numbers:  U3XXX

TDW:                  5.5 W


The Core 2 Solo is a single-core processor based upon the architecture of the dual-core chips.  It is designed for minimal power consumption while providing adequate processing performance.

Core 2 Duo

Release Date:     January 2008

Model Numbers:  T9XXX (6 MB L2) and T8XXX (3 MB L2)

TDW:                  35 W


The Core 2 Duo version of the Penryn is the main attraction for laptop processors.  This is the version that is directly replacing the Merom version.  It features a bigger L2 cache and higher clock speeds that match the Extreme versions of the Merom.

Core 2 Quad

Release Date:     September 2008

Model Numbers:  N/A

TDW:                  N/A


This is the version that everyone is waiting for.  There are laptops featuring quad-core processors, but they have been using desktop versions which use more than double the power of a mobile chip.  These processors will offer the performance of a quad-core but offer the power savings of a mobile processor.

Core 2 Extreme

Release Date:      January 2008 (dual-core) / September 2008 (quad-core)

Model Numbers:  X9XXX (dual-core) and QX9XXX (quad-core)

TDW:                  44 W


The Extreme Edition processors are the top performing processors that Intel makes.  These processors have to achieve unbelievable clock speeds and performance to achieve this status.  The mobile versions are able to do this while consuming only 40% of the power of their desktop counter-parts.


Performance and Battery Tests


Lets see some performance numbers and see how they match up.  These results were taken from a popular hardware review website.



On the performance tests, it is obvious that the Penryn is soundly faster than the older Merom.  It is 6.4% performance increase when running a mobile performance test.  The second test shows that the DAT really does improve performance, although not by much.



Battery life is just as important or if not more when it comes to discussing notebook performance.  While it is 6.4% faster in performance, it also offers a 16.5% improvement in battery life as well during the performance test.  DVD playback also shows an improvement in battery life as well.  However the difference is less due to the DVD drives sucking away power and thus negating the efficiency of the processor.



Using two popular programs that do use SSE4, we can see that this processor offers close to double the performance when programs are optimized using the SSE4 instruction set.  While programs written with support for SSE4 take some time to materialize, they will come in time.  Using a Penryn processor will future-proof yourself when that time comes.


While all this seems fun and exciting, the best news is that Intel is releasing the chips at the price that the older Merom chips were released at.  This means having a choice of the Penryn will cost you absolutely nothing more.  Intel has once again shown everyone that its chips are fast yet are able to deliver amazing efficiencies and power savings for laptop users everywhere.

Edited by MattSlagle - 07 May 2008 at 5:29pm
Matt Slagle
AVADirect Research and Developement
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