Core i3 530 processor review -
Core i3 500 & Core i5 600 processors (Clarkdale)
Intel recently made a shift to manufacturing its new 32nm die shrink of its Core microprocessor line, which the company refers to by the code name of 'Westmere'. Westmere is a die-shrink and IGP embedded processor series inside in the Nehalem family. In the Westmere range you'll find the 'Dales' chips -- 'Clarkdale' for the desktop, and 'Arrandale' for the mobile and notebook segment. Our processor tested today is a Clarkdale series processor.
Clarkdale based processors have two physical (execution) CPU cores each capable of two (hyper) threads (allowing four logical threads), and include integrated graphics and a memory controller. Like other Nehalem derivatives, Clarkdale will feature Intel Turbo Boost for the Core i5 600 series, whereas the Core i3 500 series will not have that feature.
The processors feature 4MB of Intel Smart Cache and an Integrated Memory Controller (IMC) that supports two-channels of DDR3 memory at officially supported speeds of up to 1333MHz. The cache memory consists of a 32KB L1 Data cache, 32KB Instruction cache and 256KB L2 cache per core. Then there's a nice L3 cache that is shared in-between the two CPU cores which is 4MB in total.
In this article we'll be focusing on the Core i3 range as we already reviewed the Core i5 600 processors processors. Within the Core i3 500 range a total of two models released; Core i3 540 and 530, clocking in at 2.93 and 3.06 GHz respectively. They are priced in etail right now at give or take 120 EUR (150 USD) and 99 EUR( 125 USD). Have a peek at the chart below.
|Core / Threads||Cache||Memory||TDP||Price|
|Core i5 670||3.46 GHz||3.73 GHz||2/4||4MB||DDR3 1333||73W||$284|
|Core i5 661||3.33 GHz||3.60 GHz||2/4||4MB||DDR3 1333||87W||$196|
|Core i5 660||3.33 GHz||3.60 GHz||2/4||4MB||DDR3 1333||73W||$196|
|Core i5 650||3.20 GHz||3.46 GHz||2/4||4MB||DDR3 1333||73W||$176|
|Core i3 540||3.06 GHz||N/A||2/4||4MB||DDR3 1333||73W||$133|
|Core i3 530||2.93 GHz||N/A||2/4||4MB||DDR3 1333||73W||$113|
All Clarkdale CPUs come with an IGP (Integrated Graphics Product) on die which means it has a small embedded GPU inside the processor. Though the processors will be manufactured at 32nm the totally weird thing is that the graphics core is produced at 45nm. That can only mean one thing, the Clarkdale processors will feature a multi-chip package, the CPU and GPU won't be merged into a single die but will have two chips merged in one package. I obtained a beautiful photo showing this:
To the left you can see a Clarkdale processor with two separate chips on one package -- connected like Siamese twins. The smaller chip to the left is the processor, the bigger one the IGP.
To the right the H55 PCH (motherboard chipset). From an architectural point of view this means that Clarkdale is a chip that's internally connected to a separate 45nm silicon that houses the GPU and dual-channel memory-controller - all in the same package.
The IGP inside the processor is called the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator HD, and is derived from existing Intel graphics products. But with some new improvements. Thanks to the IGP connectivity this can be good, bringing native support for HDMI (v1.3), DVI and DisplayPort.
|Category||Features||LGA 775 + Intel G45||Intel Series 5 IGP|
|Improvements||Unified Shader architecture||2nd Generation||3rd generation|
|Execution Units (shader processors)||10||12|
|HW Vertex Processing||Enhanced||Enhanced cull/clip/setup|
|Hierarchical Z and Fast Z clear||No||Yes|
|Targeted OS optimizations||Windows XP/Vista||Windows XP/Vista/7|
|3D Performance||Core Frequency||Up to 800 MHz||Up to 900 MHz|
|Max. Video Memory||Up to 768 MB||Up to 1.7 GB|
|DirectX||DX 10||DX 10|
|Shader Model||SM 4.0||SM 4.0|
|Dual Simultaneous HDMI||No||Yes|
As you can observe from the specifications, don't expect a lot of gaming performance fun (though very simple games should be able to be played) but see this more as a desktop integration and implementation for very good Windows usage and importantly... high-definition 1080P decoding and acceleration.
So remember this, Core i3 530 and 540 are covering the $123-$150 price range. The Core i3 processors will not feature Turbo mode, that will be the main difference. Other than that it's the same chip as the Core i5 600 series also with the same features and TDP (73W).
One last thing I need to mention, Clarkdale (Core i5 dual core) processors are based on socket LGA1156 that currently powers Lynnfield CPUs (Core i5 750 / Core i7 860/870). We'll talk about this a little more in the chipset chapter.
Earlier this month on the 3rd we took an in-depth peek at the Core i5 600 series processors. Intel that day also released the the Core i3 series processors, exactly the same thing, yet clocked slight slower and with Intel's Turbo mode' stripped away. The end result however is a processor that is priced much more attractive-- yet for a dual-core processor offers much more bang for buck at a mainstream or HTPC. And that processor was not seeded towards Dutch press, hence a review on Core i3 530 today.