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Intel Core i5 processor faq

July 24th, 2010

Most of the today’s notebooks come powered with the Intel’s Core ix series processor. This faq should help you understand the capabilities, limitations and comparisons of the intel core i5 processors. If you have purchased a notebook or a desktop or are planning for one, this faq should be improve your understanding of the core i5 processor.

Q. What is the major difference between Core i5 processor and its predecessor Core 2 Duo processor.

A. There are two major architecture difference in the Core i5 processor that give performance boost over the Core 2 Duo processor. The first is the integrated memory controller. The integrated memory controller increases memory throughput ( amount of data transfer between the processor and the memory per second) by hooking up the memory directly to the processor, unlike the Core 2 duo or earlier processors which had one more chip sitting between the processor and the memory controller. AMD had adopted this architecture much earlier with its HyperTransport technology with its Opteron Processor.

The second major change is the re introduction of the the Hyperthreading. The core i5 has two cores and each cores can run two threads simultaneously. This improves the performances when several processes are running in parallel.

Q. Can I take out the core 2 Duo processor from my motherboard and put in the Core i5 processor.

A. No you can not do that. The Core i5 processor has different pint out and the package than the core 2 Duo processor. You will need a new motherboard.

Q. What is Turbo Boost Technology in Core i5 processors.

A. The core i5 processors come with the Turbo Boost Technology. What it means it that the processor will normally run at some nominal frequency. However, if some demanding process require high processing power, the processor can ramp up the frequency on demand. This boosts the performance.

Q. Why can not you make the max Turbo Boost frequency as the nominal frequency.

A. Very good question. Ideally intel could have kept the max frequency as its nominal frequency. The problem is the power consumption and the battery life in the notebooks. Increase in frequency means increase in the fan power, processor voltage and this leads to higher power consumption. This also produce more heating and potentially increases wear and tear ( fans and heat). By keeping the nominal frequency low, we keep the power consumption in control, reduce heat and fan speed without any noticeable reduction in performance.

Q. What is the deal with the Intel HD Graphics in the Core i5 processor.

A. The intel core i5 processors come with the integrated graphics. This reduces the chip count in the in the motherboard, simplifies the design. On the downside the intel’s graphics processor still to catch up with the performance of the dedicated graphics chip.

Q. What is the typical performance improvement in the core i5 processor as compared to the core 2 Duo processor.

A. The core i5 processors provide significant performance improvement over the similarly clocked Core 2 Duo processor. Let us compare some of the benchmarks for the Core 2 Duo P8700 and the Core i5-540M both powered at 2.54 GHz. According to the SYSMark 2007 benchmark performed by Anandtech, Core i5-540M gives 19.4% performance improvement over Core 2 Duo P8700. According to Cinebench R10 benchmark, the single thread has performance improvement of 38.4% and multiple thread performance improvement of 43.%

Q. What is the battery power advantage of the Core i5 processor over the Core 2 Duo processor.

A. As reported in the Anandtech benchmark, there is no noticeable improvement in the battery life in the Core i5 processor over the Core 2 Duo processor running at same frequency. However, looking at the performance improvement, we get more performance on the same power.

Q. What are the different flavors and part numbers.
A. The list of the core i5 processors are as follows

Table : Intel Core i5 processor comparison comparison

Model Frequency AES Function
i5-450M 2.4GHz No
i5-520M 2.4GHz Yes
i5-580M 2.67GHz Yes
i5-540M 2.53GHz Yes
i5-430M 2.26GHz No
i5-540UM 1.2 GHz Yes
i5-430UM 1.2GHz No
i5-520UM 1.06 GHz Yes

Note that the UM series is intended for the low power and high battery life processors. These are expected to replace the Atom Series processors in current and future notebooks.

Comment here for more questions and we will be glad to answer.

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