Courses/Computer Science/CPSC 203/CPSC 203 2008Winter L03/CPSC 203 2008WinterL03 TermProjects/T19 Group 2 - Intel Core 2 Duo CPUs vs. AMD Athlon 64 X2 - Perplexed about which Processor to Purchase?

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Info about the project

Group Members

Arif Karmali

Fernando Ponce

Danny Vuong

Kavita Patel

Initial Project Statement

To be succinct, our goal is to examine the differences between current processors made by Intel and AMD, specifically, Intel's Core 2 Duo and AMD's Athlon 64 x2. Through our research, we hope to determine which brand of processor is better for which function, and ultimately provide enough information for each brand, such that a buyer would be able to purchase a computer with sufficient knowledge of its processing capabilities.

Definition of a Processor


What is it you ask? It's the brains of the operation. Processors are what control the notebook or the desktop, also known as central process unit (CPU). Reads sofwares and relays the messages of what you want your computer to do for you. Generally measured in MegaHertz (MHz) and GigaHertz (Ghz), and usually, higher the GHz, the faster your computer will run.

Info on the companies


Started in 1969 by Jerry Sanders, III, Ed Turney, John Carey, Sven Simonsen, and Jack Gifford. AMD or Advanced Micro Devices is a semiconductor manufacturing company based in California. The company is the second largest supplier of processors based on X86 architecture and has approximately 16000 employees worldwide. After acquiring ATI Technologies in 2006 the company became the third largest supplier of graphics cards. AMD has history of producing some very good processors like AMD K5,AMD K6,Athlon XP. The companies main rival in the processor segment is Intel Corporation and Nvidia in the graphics card segment.


Intel or Integrated Electronics Corporation was founded in 1968 at Santa Carla by Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore. Its early business comprised of making SRAM and DRAM chips. It was not until the developement of Intel's first microprocessor, "4004" that Intel decided to give the production of microprocessor their primary focus. Today Intel is the world's largest semiconductor company, employing around 86,300 people and the biggest seller of desktop and mobile processors. Intel has history of producing the most successful CPU architecture "X86", and some great processors like 8086, Pentium, Pentium 4, Intel core 2 duo.

The Brains of the Operation


Athlon 64 X2: The first dual-core processor by AMD, the "Athlon 64 X2". Those processors are made up of two Athlon 64 cores residing on one die. Both cores share one dual-channel memory controller and perform calculations on two streams of data to increase efficiency and speed, resulting in a big increase in performance when using many programs at the same time. Athlon 64 X2 processors are the industries first true on-die dual core processors. They provide dual core system compatibility in single core system configuration. Being a 64 bit processor Athlon 64 X2 processors can address more than 4 GB of memory. They have a high bandwidth, low latency integrated DDR memory controller and have support for 64 bit DDR2 memory. They support memory bandwidth up to 12.8 GB/s and have up to 1mb of L2 cache for improved system performance. They also incorporate ‘cool n quiet’ technology for reduced power consumption and quieter operation.


Core 2 duo is Intel's next generation processor and is based on Intel Core microarchitecture. The new architecture incorporates the best elements of the Netburst architecture and the winning features of Intel's Pentium M and core duo mobile range of processors. The initial fabrication method was 65 nm which now has been reduced to 45 nm with the discovery of high-k metal gate silicon technology. Core 2 duo processors have Intel's advanced smart cache which is optimized for dual core and multi core processors and provides significant boost in performance. These processors are energy efficient and provides better battery performance.



These first graph measure the general performance of the CPUs with price and the second graph measures the performance when gaming with price.

Power consumption.gif

These two graphs measure the power consumption of each CPUs in idle mode and during peak performance mode.

Advantages of AMD 64 X2

Some of the youngest Athlon 64 X2 can compete successfully against dual core Celeron E1200 and even Pentium E2160 and some top AMD solutions are a little ahead of Core 2 Duo E4000 processors. They can perform well against Core 2 Duo E4000 and three processor models with 5600+, 6000+ and 6400+ ratings manged to outperform Core 2 Duo E4600.

It is a feature-rich, no-compromise experience. A visible difference for consumers in performance versus the competition. Lower costs to the consumer to operate thanks to energy-conscious processor design. Better wireless connectivity. Outstanding Windows Vista™ performance tomorrow on mainstream PCs available today.

AMD’s Athlon 64 FX-53 has a lower average running temperature than Intel’s Pentium 4, it’s TDP (thermal design power) is substantially better than Intel. Meaning the AMD processor can more efficiently cool itself, after running the same amount of time as the Intel model. Also the AMD 64 Athlon X2 runs at a lower wattage than Intel’s Pentium D 940 at 235W oppose to 253W.

Advantages of Intel Core 2 Duo

Currently AMD processors are being overpriced as Intel has started to upgrade the Duo CPUs. The Core 2 Duo are made up of smaller chips that are also cheapter to make then the previous generation, and also much smaller than the AMD X2. You can see right away that some AMD processors are overpriced compared to Intel processors that offer better performance at a lower price. Today's best buys are the Core 2 Duo E8200 and E8400 because of the price-to-performance prospective.

Dual Core CPUs lead their Athlon 64 competition, but this is a much tighter contest. But for now, Dual core is the best choice for gaming. L2 casche memory has a very big influence on gaming performance and Core 2 Duo E8000 is the only series that has a 6MB L2 cache while the other Core 2 Duo processors have 2MB or smaller L2 cache. Most Intel processors work at about the same level in games, and prove much faster in all other applications, which makes them more attractive than AMD. Overall, all Duo Core processors do very well in audio and video content encoding applications. Intel processors are also very strong in Adobe applications, even the Celeron E1200 that is usually in last place on result charts managed to outperform Athlon 64 X2 4200+.

The Core 2s now have a slight advantage in idle power consumption but not more than 10 watts. They also lead in terms of both peak and idle power draw, so they do well over the total duration of the test period. The new Intel processors on 45nm cores set the new power efficiency standards, which make it harder for other processors to reach. Even the older Intel Core micro-architecture based on 65nm don't look too bad. This way, competitors from AMD will be less appealing for quiet performance systems.

Disadvantages of AMD 64 X2

For the Mac lover, Intel beat AMD to the punch, in 2006 Intel signed a contract to install the Intel Core 2 Duo in each Mac. The venture has been so successful that although it was initially predicted to take two years to fully make the conversion, it was done in just one year. Now every new Mac ships with Intel Core 2 Duo, making Intel more available to the Mac and PC user. Apple claims that since they have adapted the Intel processor in all of their new computers, they run 58% times faster then the previous generation without.

Disadvantages of Intel Core 2 Duo

Intel’s Core 2 Duo has two L2 Cache at 2MB or 4MB, however this is less efficient then having one single shared L2 Cache because having only one can “simplify cache coherency, and allows the two cores to use different amounts of L2 cache, with the amount being used by each core changing over time based on memory utilization.”1 The L2 Cache is an area aside to the processor, which can store memory. This is generally used for excess downloads such as those off the Internet.

General Conclusion

As a result of their low power consumption and fair pricing, Core 2 Duo E8000 will be a popular choice. This is especially true for Core 2 Duo E8200 and E8400 models. Seeing as these promising models have not yet flooded the market, retailers keep the prices up. After the launch of the new Core 2 Duo E8200 model, the top Athlon 64 X2 processors turned out extremely overpriced. Currently, they can only compete against Core 2 Duo E4000 and Pentium E2000. In order for AMD Athlon 64 X2 processor to perform as fast as a Core 2 Duo E4000 or Pentium E2000, it should run 20% faster than it currently does. This means that with regard to performance, AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ should cost as much as Core 2 Duo E4600, and Athlon 64 X2 5000+ shouldn’t be priced higher than Pentium E2200. Furthermore, the power consumption rates should be disregarded because regular Athlon 64 X2 cannot be considered economical. Thus, the results clearly indicate that Intel processors are the “Best Buy” in every price range, and this will remain so until AMD reduces the price on its Athlon 64 X2. Overall AMD INTEL.png