Intel’s first 32 nanometer processors is finally here. Clarkdale is the name of the desktop family and it brings no less than 6 different CPUs to stores today, four in the Core i5-6xx series and two in the Core i3-5xx series. Clarkdale isn’t just Intel’s first 32nm chip, it’s also the company’s first with an integrated GPU. Next to the dual-core CPU circuit we find an Intel GMA graphics circuit made with 45 nanometer technology. Through HyperThreading the dual-core Clarkdale processors are still capable of running multi-threaded applications.
The only thing separating the two Clarkdale series is that the Core i5 series ships with Intel’s Turbo Boost technology, something the Core i3 series will have to do without, but at the same time it is much cheaper.
Intel has also announced three new chipsets; H55, H57 and Q57, which are primarily designed to make use of the integrated GPU through the Flexible Display Interface (FDI) technology. Intel P55 supports Clarkdale with an update of the BIOS, but it will then have to do without the integrated graphics.
Intel Clarkdale and H57 chipset
Intel’s new processors operate at clock frequencies between 2.93GHz and 3.46GHz and with only two cores and energy efficient 32 nanometer technology the power consumption is the least to say impressive. Performance is also good, especially in single-threaded environments, but also the integrated GPU, known as ”Intel HD Graphics”, performs better than previous solutions and the fastest graphics, in Core i5 661, is now more competitive than ever when compared to other integrated solution, even if it is still far from convincing.
Other news of Clarkdale is that Intel HD Graphic supports genuine playback of DTS HD-MA and Dolby TrueHD through HDMI. This together with a highly efficient energy design promises good fortunes among HTPC builders. As the graphics circuit moved inside the CPU the memory controller moved over to the graphics circuit, which is crippling the memory performance of Clarkdale, something we found out earlier this year, and have been able to recreate in our own tests.
Intel has spread the Nehalem architecture across the more or less the entire processor market and even if we are far from done with investigating the new Clarkdale processors the overall opinion on Intel’s Core i5-6xx series is that the prices is holding it back a bit, while the Core i3-5xx series attracts interest among budget buyers and segments where the integrated graphics will come to good use.
We’re eager to see Clarkdale’s overclocking escapades and from what we hear it will break 7GHz any moment now. The new 32 nanometer technology promises for some high clock frequencies.
Intel’s Core i5-661 CPU in good company in our test lab
While waiting for our own review of Clarkdale we have gathered some reviews of the platform below.