The cheap Intel Core 2 Duo E4400 CPU is going to get a new stepping and new thermal specifications. This will give the chip more overclocking headroom and will enable system builders to scale back case cooling solutions:
The E4400 with Allendale core is one of two currently available Core 2 Duo processors with FSB800 (instead of the FSB1066 of the E6000 series) and 2 MB L2 cache. According to a product change notification sent to system builders on Tuesday, the processor will transition from the L-2 to the M-0 stepping and bring a visually different package, which, however, will be pin-compatible with the preceding CPU generation.
The M-0 stepping processors allow a maximum case temperature of 73.2° Celsius, up from 61.4°C in the preceding L-2 generation. The extended halt power specification is reduced from 12 watts to 8 watts. The product change will require “minimal re-qualification” of the processor, according to Intel: The M-0 stepping calls for a BIOS update and a new thermal qualification is necessary if system builders choose to change a qualified cooling solution to take advantage of the adjusted maximum case temperature.