Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

Intel Westmere 32nm & Clarkdale Core i5-661 Review

Intel fuses its new 32nm Westmere processor along with its 45nm GPU onto one package. This is Intel's new Clarkdale CPU that will be officially known as Intel Core i5-6XX and Intel Core i3-5XX series processors. Today we look at the Core i5-661 which we compare to the Core i5-750, Core i7-965, and AMD Phenom II X4.

Introduction

Today marks Intel launching its first 32nm processor into the market. Considering that only two years ago we saw the 45nm process come to market in the form of a QX9650, there is no doubt that Intel is staying on target with its Tick Tock cadence. As promised in Q307, Westmere core processors are now upon us sporting 32nm process technology.

Westmere is Here

While the Westmere 32nm core represents new technology, it is still very much based on Nehalem architecture. So far in the Nehalem family we have seen the original 45nm Bloomfield part, represented by Core i7 LGA 1366 processors. Then we saw the 45nm Lynnfield cores launch for both Core i7 and Core i5 LGA 1156 processors. Now we are seeing 32nm Westmere cores launch for Core i3 and Core i5 LGA 1156 parts.

Today we have a Core i5-661 processor that is codenamed "Clarkdale." The Clarkdale name has been designated to the new Intel Core i3 and Core i5 processor families that have an Intel 45nm graphics package with the 32nm Westmere execution core, giving us a Clarkdale processor.

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As you can see from the pictures above, there are actually two different dies on the "CPU" package that will be tucked under the heat spreader.

Below are photographs of both dies; our 45nm graphics chip, and our 32nm processor.

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You will notice that the graphics processing unit is not alone on the 45nm die. The memory controller and PCIe controller also ride about with the graphics as well as a few other things.

Clarkdale Transistor and Size

Number of 32nm transistors: 383 Million

Number of 45nm transistors: 177 Million

Die size: Westmere Processor (32nm) = 81 mm2 - Graphics (45nm) = 114 mm2

Meet the Clarkdale Family

As mentioned above, the Clarkdale family of processors will be sold both under the Core i5 and Core i3 branding. All of these new Core i5 and Core i3 processors launched today are dual core processors. All these Core i5 and Core i3 processors will have HyperThreading enabled, allowing for 4 thread multithreading. Unlike its 8MB predecessors in the Lynnfield family, the Clarkdale processors will have on 4MB of on-die cache.

The "big" feature that will differentiate the Clarkdale i5 and i3 processors is that the Core i3 processors will not have the Turbo Boost featureآ…and the Core i3 processors will be rated for lower clock speeds. The product hierarchy is shown below.

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آ…with Intel Graphics Media Accelerator HD

Let’s just cut to the chase here and tell you that the Clarkdale CPU/GPU combination is in no way meant to be used by any hardware enthusiast, or anyone slighted interested in 3D at all in a gaming capacity. Even Intel thinks so.

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As you can see in the slide above, Intel states that the graphics processor on its Clarkdale processors is "designed to play casual and mainstream PC games with a responsive, attractive visual experience on these titles." WoW and Sims 3 are noted. I looked up the spec that these two games were tested at by Intel and both games were tested to be able to be "gameable" at 1024x768 resolution with a lot of the eye candy turned off.

The fact of the matter is that Intel’s "GPU" is not meant for any sort of 3D gamer that we at HardOCP write for and we are not going to waste our time telling you any more about it.

That said, we are going to be talking about what Intel Graphics Media Accelerator HD can deliver to a computer hardware enthusiast, but rest assured, it is not gaming. Nor did anyone here expect it to.