The new Penryn architecture has proven to be a worthy successor to the original Conroe as it offers better performance while significantly reducing operating temperatures and power consumption levels. This update is certainly going to help bolster the Core 2 line up and with many more Penryn-based processors on the way, there seems to be no stopping at Intel.
Although the Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 is a seriously impressive bit of technology, it is also incredibly expensive at $1000. During the first quarter of 2008, Intel plans to release new quad-core processors that will replace the current Q6600 and Q6700. There will also be a number of new Wolfdale dual-core desktop processors that are expected to range from 2.66GHz to 3.16GHz using the current 1333MHz FSB and a 6MB L2 cache. Finally the QX9650 itself will also be replaced early next year by the QX9770 which will operate at a bumped 3.20GHz, keeping the 12MB L2 cache, but running a staggering 1600MHz FSB. This upgrade will require the upcoming Intel X48 chipset that we have been hearing about.
So while the original Conroe architecture has been the foundation for countless Core 2 processors over the past year, it will soon begin to be phased out by a sea of next generation Penryn processors. Already we have discovered that this new architecture is capable of at least 4GHz without having to implement any kind of extreme cooling measures.
This being the case, it is a little disappointing to find that Intel is playing the conservative card only pushing the QX9650 to 3GHz when it is capable of so much more.
The (dual-core) E6700 was released over a year ago and this processor came clocked at 2.66GHz while we were easily able to reach 3.66GHz with it. Since then Intel has pushed Core 2 Duos to just 3GHz. With no real competition from AMD just yet it would seem that Intel has no need of pushing things any further which would also explain the delay of the 3.2GHz QX9770.
The QX9650 is a fantastic processor and in fact it is now the fastest desktop processor money can buy. It is hard to speak about value when reviewing any Intel Extreme product as this series has never been about that. Much like the AMD AthlonFX range, the Intel Extreme is simply meant to offer enthusiasts a processor with an unlocked multiplier and (at the time of its respective release) the fastest thing money can buy.
Well, the QX9650 has an unlocked multiplier and it is the fastest processor out there, so it has achieved all objectives then. In a nutshell the QX9650 offers more speed, more overclocking headroom, more efficiency, while creating less heat and less noise! How about that?