Intel Arrandale and Clarkdale CPUs storm onto the scene

Posted on Monday, January 04 2010 @ 17:39 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
Intel has unleashed the Clarkdale and Arrandale 32nm processors, this includes six new dual-core desktop processors (Clarkdale) with frequencies ranging from 2.93GHz to 3.46GHz and eleven new dual-core notebook processors (Arrandale) with frequencies of 1.06GHz to 2.66GHz and TDP between 18W and 35W. Lets take a look at a couple of reviews to see how these chips perform.

First up is a review from The Tech Report, they took a closer look at the Core i5 661 and conclude the Clarkdale CPU technology is excellent. However, they do argue that the Core i5 661 is too expensive for the performance it offers.
As a consumer product, though, the Core i5-661 is simply overpriced for its performance. I'm not sure why Intel chose to price it comparably to the Core i5-750 and the Phenom II X4 965, very fast quad-core processors. Perhaps they were thinking of the nice premiums commanded by the Core 2 Duo E8600 when its single- and dual-threaded performance was prized for the absolute best gaming experience. With the advent of Windows 7 and a new crop of games, though, those days are long gone. I would choose the Core i5-750 over the i5-661 ten times out of ten. Against the Phenom II X4 965, the i5-661's only advantage is lower power consumption—much lower, don't get me wrong, but you'll be sacrificing performance substantially to get there.
The site also took a look at the ASUS K42F, this Arrandale-based notebook features the Intel Core i5 540M. You can check out the test over here, the reviewer concludes the mobile Arrandale isn't much slower than its Clarkdale desktop equivalent and delivers a nice improvement in power efficiency.
Perhaps more important than Arrandale's performance is the relative improvement in power efficiency that it brings to Intel's mainstream mobile platform. Moving the north bridge onto the CPU package and into the processor's thermal envelope has dramatically lowered the overall TDP ratings for Intel's mobile CPU and chipset combos. With the Core 2 Duo, you were looking at 10-35W for the CPU, another 12W for the north bridge, and 2.5W for a south bridge chip. With Arrandale, you have 17-35W for the CPU plus a 3.5W PCH like the HM55 Express. All in all, you're looking at 20.5-38.5W for Arrandale, versus 24.5-49.5W for the old Core 2 Duo platform.
The guys from Firingsquad reviewed Intel's Core i5 661. They conclude this model is too expensive at $196, as you can get the faster Core i5 750 for about the same amoutn of money.
Where Clarkdale could be more compelling is on the low end with Core i3. With prices of $113 and $133, the Core i3-530 and Core i3-540 don’t encroach on Lynnfield’s price point, and although they do lack Turbo Mode support, this can easily be overcome with a little bit of OC’ing. We’ll have to try and get our hands on a chip so we can see how it compares to similar dual-core offerings from AMD, but it looks like these chips could be significantly better than the Core 2 Duo E7000-series CPUs Intel had been offering previously for the low-end segment. Right now it's looking like these could be the most intriguing Clarkdale CPUs Intel is offering at the moment.
HotHardware also reviewed the Core i5 661, their report can be read over here. Just like the other sites they believe the chip offers a good features set, but is simply too expensive.

Another Arrandale review can be read at AnandTech, they also took a look at a pre-production sample of the ASUS K42 notebook with the Core i5 540M. Anand concludes Arrandale is awesome from a balanced notebook perspective, the platform delivers a big boost in performance while keeping roughly the same battery life as the previous generation.
Ultimately, we like Arrandale a lot as a balanced mobile offering. It's not going to be as fast as Clarksfield but that was never the point. Performance is 20% better in typical applications compared to mobile dual-core Penryn parts like the P8000 and P9000 series, and battery life at least didn't go down (in most cases). It's also nice to see integrated Intel graphics that don't suck… or at least, they only suck as bad as the current AMD and NVIDIA IGPs. We'll look at doing more testing with Arrandale's IGP in a future article when we have final shipping hardware, as the ability to limit the CPU performance in order to boost GPU speeds is intriguing.
AnandTech also took a look at Clarkdale, this review focuses on the Intel Core i5 661, Intel Core i3 540 and Intel Core i3 530. It can be found over here, below is a snip from the conclusion.
Intel admitted that these high end SKUs aren't going to be very high volume. Most users are expected to opt for the Core i5 750 instead of the i5 661 unless they absolutely need Intel's HD Graphics for some bizarre reason. The real volume is going to be in the Core i3 and that's where I believe Intel has a real winner here. Unlike the entry-level Lynnfield, you don't give up Hyper Threading with the Core i3 540 and 530. All you lose is Turbo. And since these are dual-core CPUs, Intel's Turbo Boost doesn't buy you all that much extra performance (+133MHz or +266MHz at most).

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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