Podcast:Episode 15 - Chainbolt discusses conroe (Transcript)
From OCAU Wiki
Chainbolt Interview Train-script on Conroe With James Rolfe/Agg and Martin aka Chainbolt
A: Alright, so I’m joined here in the virtual studio by Martin, who you know as Chainbolt. Are you there Martin?
C: Hi. Yes!
A: Hi, good to have you back again. And of course, we're in the wake of your Conroe review, which was on OCAU on Friday. And, as it turns out, after sort of months of speculation and rumors and things, Conroe has turned out to be quite a big deal.
C: Yeah, indeed really. Performance is clearly better, much better than previous generation Intel Pentium 4 and also users will like very much the power consumption is much lower. The heat output naturally is also much lower. So it’s really a major progress.
A: Yeah. So, I know that people can and should go read your review which is still linked on the news page. But maybe for people who are sitting on the train and maybe don’t have access to the review right now. Can you just give us a little bit of a summary of where this chip came from and what it really means?
C: Yeah. Over the last few years of course Intel has improved the Pentium 4, but these improvements were more, lets say, small changes to the existing design, to the existing micro-architecture. But in case of Conroe it’s a completely new micro-architecture. They took away with the so-called "NetBurst" micro-architecture which was the basis for the Pentium 4 and came up with something new. It’s actually a combination of the Pentium M and Pentium 4. So the best elements of that they put together. But the result is quite different obviously from what they had before and it has a much higher efficiency and is using much less power. So in simple words, I would say the efficiency around about 30% higher than the Pentium 4 and the consumption, power consumption, is *almost* 50% lower. That is in relationship to the previous Pentium 4.
A: When you say 30% higher, you mean that in terms of the computational power available per Watt. Is that what you mean?
C: That would be even more. No, I’m comparing the fastest Conroe, which was released, which is the X6800, clocked at a speed of 2.92 Ghz. If I compare this CPU with the previously fastest Pentium 4, which is the Extreme Edition 965, clocked at something like 3.7-something Ghz, then although Conroe is running almost 1Ghz slower, it’s performing 30% better.
A: Yeah, that's...
A: So in very practical terms, I was referring to 30%. At the same time, it’s using 50% less power. Almost 50%. Of course as you said the efficiency per Watt is... that’s easily to understand. It’s much, much higher with Conroe than before, if you look at these figures
A: Yeah, I mean, that's pretty amazing. Were you expecting it to be much better? I mean I know that you have been, in the Intel Hardware Forum, you have been quite an ‘evangelist’ for the upcoming Conroe...
C: *snort* *giggle* Yeah!
A: ...but did you expect it to be that good?
C: I joined the Intel Developers Seminiar here in Tokyo at the beginning of this year and they showed some figures there. And I’d some-how got a feeling that would come. But of course seeing that on my own system, it was a-little bit of surprise, because it’s very rare see such a great improvement, in the IT industry. That’s really unique. I don’t remember anything like this in the past 5-6 years. So it came as surprise, yes.
A: Yeah. So, just to give it bit of perspective.. from what I’ve been reading, and you can tell me if this is wrong, the sort of upper mid-range Conroe, which is the E6600, that performs roughly on-par with AMD's top of the line chip, the Athlon 64 FX-62. Is that right?
C: That’s what I’ve found. I personally did not test the 6600. I tested the 6700. But you can easily deduct this, if you reduced some of the performance a little bit. And what I’ve seen from other sites, that actually tested the 6600, it seems to be true, what you just mentioned. That the 6600 is basically give or take in line with AMD’s current fastest processor, the FX-62, yes.
A: We can expect that chip, which is roughly the same speed, but it will cost about a third of the price in Australia.
C: A third of the price… I don’t know, I think the 6600
A: It’s about $500
C: If I look at the prices announced in Europe or what I have heard from United States, will be around… lets say around $500 Australian dollars. Probably at the beginning a little bit more because some of the vendors will use the opportunity to cash-in a little bit on the novelty effect and the probably smaller availability of these new Conroe’s. But lets say around roughly 500 and that would be, I currently think at the moment taking current prices. I think that’s rough of half of the FX-62.
A: Okay. So about half.
C: But I think, I mean AMD will soon also reduce prices because they know that this is no longer competive no more. So we will have to see to watch over the next 2-3 months.
A: I know that people who listen to our podcast will have heard Andypoo talking about AMD's plans for the last few weeks or so. As far as everybody is aware, they've pretty much said that the day after Conroe comes out and is available, which is actually a couple of weeks from now, they will be slashing their prices. People are saying they be cutting prices by almost much as 50% themselves, so that’s certainly something to keep an eye out for.
C: Well, of course okay I mean they will do the same what Intel has done over the past two years. Intel knew that AMD had the faster processor. So they tried to undercut them, so that at a given price point, there was still some sort of competitiveness. Although AMD had the fastest processor, at the top line, but at a given price point... let's say a customer wanted to spend $300-400 Australian dollars. Then he would have somehow comparable performance. AMD will do now the same - so it’s good for all of us.
A: Hmm, absolutely. Just along those lines, do we know what AMD has waiting in the wings. What’s next on their roadmap to attack this new comer from Intel?
C: As far as I know, they will shortly launch a higher clocked FX version - that’s the Winchester core. That will be clocked at 3Ghz, but that for sure will not be to enough to outrun or come even close to Conroe Extreme Edition. Then of course as most people know already at the beginning of next year both companies will launch their four-core products. These four-core or quad-core products will be based on the existing micro-architecture and AMD has still an advantage because they have the on-die memory controller. Some analysts are predicting as far as quad-core is concerned, AMD might have an advantage cause they have the more efficient memory controller. Because quad-core of course needs higher bandwidth and that might be an advantage for AMD’s current architecture. So we will have to see what will happen with the quad-cores at the beginning of next year. And then, somewhere I guess maybe the end of 2007, AMD itself will upgrade their micro-architecture to the so-called K8-L version. Okay, then, nobody knows how good this will be. That will be the first *real* challenge to Conroe
A: Hmm. Do you think... I mean, personally... quad-core sounds cool, but I don’t see that being a real driver of the market. Because we don’t really see that much benefit with dual-core, unless you're someone who does a lot of folding. *giggle* Dual-core hasn’t real benefited anybody all that much in the desktop level and I can’t see people rushing out to buy quad-core.
C: I agree with you on both counts. Number one: It’s good for Folding
C: But for many other user, a dual core processor, hmm, it looks good on the paper and it looks good in the benchmarks. But I also have a little bit of doubts that for most regular PC users it will really cause such a big deal. And of course then if you have a quad-core, you can ask “What for”? And quad-core will be of course again more expensive. But okay lets talk about folding, because that was a good hint here. For folding it absolutely makes sense. Because for folding the more instances you can run the better. And and as you know, for the Pentium-D, the previous generation Intel - the extreme edition 955 and 965 extreme edition - they had hyper-threading enabled or HT. That allows to run dual-core CPU with 4 threads. Basically - not exactly but basically - like the quad-core. And if you do this in folding, or lets say in any other environment where you really need such kind of 4 parallel running instances then you clearly have an advantage. Clearly. So there will be some users that have a benefit from that, but as you’ve said for most users certainly not.
A: While we're still talking about folding, I’m sure that people who run quite a few folding PC’s are really looking at Conroe and going “Well, this thing is so much faster and it uses less power”. Which, for someone who’s folding and maybe has a couple of PCs, that’s not just an esoteric interesting thing. That could really translate into them spending less on their power bill every month.
C: Absolutely. It's for me actually a real relief. I have 3 systems running and they were all running with a Pentium 955. And that thing when running with 4 threads, is using something like 330 Watts. 330! And that’s simply, now with Conroe running at 30% more efficient, the wattage is half. It's 100 something, like 160 watt. So that’s cutting the electricity bill by half, for that. In one example here, there's one protein, that’s protein 602. It takes around 12-13 mins to fold this, to complete one frame in folding with a Pentium 955. And that time is cut down to 8 mins with the X6800. So again you can see, if you take the top versions, previous top version and current top version of what Intel has to offer, you are 30-40% faster and you need half of the power than before.
A: Yeah. It’s impressive stuff.
C: It is, yeah. It is. As I said it’s amazing. I have done a lot of testing over the last 5-6 years. But I’ve never experienced such kind of jump. It’s a real leap forward. I’ve never seen something like this. You know normally you get a new hard disk drive. We have a spindle spin before 7200 and then 10,000. Then you have a improvement maybe 5%. Or remember when we changed from DDR1 to DDR2. It was an improvement of 3, 4, 5%. But I don’t remember ever to have seen such kind of big improvement of 30%. It’s really unique.
A: I know from the reviews that I've read and written over the years, whenever a new platform comes out, there's always a slightly apologetic tone to the review. It’s always the stance "Okay, this new product is about the same as the previous one. But we now have a lot more head-room, so it will be a lot more interesting in the future."
C: *chuckle* Yes.
A: But with this one, we have "Wow, look how much better it is, and just imagine what it's going to be like in the future!"
A: Speaking of the future what you reckon is waiting in the intel wings. Now we have Conroe, Is that it for a long time? Or is there something coming up? Is there a socket change in the future… Do we know?
C: I think, I’ve very carefully studied all the papers published by Intel in the developer seminar they had in the beginning of this year and what was now released together, with the launch of Conroe. I’ve never seen anywhere a hint of intel changing the socket. I assume at least until 2007 they will be no change, So no socket change. But Intel will change to new production technology in the first half of 2007. There currently using 65 nanometer they will change to 45 nanometer in the first half, AMD will change from 92 from to 65 at the end of this year. So… I mentioned already quad-core and I think that’s it for intel in the near future. Lets say for the next 1 ½ year
A: Okay, Speaking of sockets the Conroe has come out on the LGA775 socket that’s been out for sometime now and were well use too. But not all motherboards will support it cause of the particular requirement you need to make sure you have a certain board. What’s the story there?
C: Well let me put it this way. The chipset 975 which was released at the end of last year is supporting Conroe. But the first generation of motherboard based on this chipset does not support Conroe. These are very few boards, one type from intel and one board from ASUS that do not support Conroe these boards were at the beginning of this year. But to be absolutely sure somebody, Who is now going to assemble their Conroe system and should really ask the vendor, Check the box or with the manufacture that the board is really supporting Conroe to be 100% sure.
A: Is it possible from boards that people already own which currently don’t support Conroe. Is that something that can be fixed via a BIOS update or is a major issue with the regulated power circuitry of the board that can’t be changed
C: Yes it can’t be fixed by a BIOS update. It’s a power regulation issue as you said, There are addition capacitors necessary. I have seen mods to existing boards that make a board Conroe capable. But that is quite complicated, I don’t recommend this for any user. Again, A BIOS update will not do. It’s not possible because it’s hardware related
A: Okay, Fair enough
A: Along those lines do you have a current recommended setup or best recommend chipset, motherboard etc for people to look for?
C: Okay, As far as the CPU itself is concerned. I think the consensus at the moment is the 6600 are the product to look for. Regarding the memory the user needs to know that Conroe has quite a low-multiplier with in other words. What you need in order to overclock the system and of course most users would like to do. The particular lower-clocked Conroe’s will have a lot of headroom. The user should therefore keep in mind. That he needs DDRII memory. Which is rated to run at least 800Mhz that is something, I would strongly recommend memory rated at 800Mhz. Because that will allow the user to 1-1 in a ratio of 1-2-1 to nicely scale up the system. As far as the motherboard is concerned that’s too early to tell cause. Currently we only have only a few view Intel chipset 975 boards. Very soon there will be a lot of 965 boards. They’re cheaper and the chipset has a more advance. What intel has calling ECH that’s commonly called the Southbridge, There will be a flood of these boards over the next two-three months. But they haven’t been tested and not yet in the market for now it’s too early. Furthermore at the moment there will be a very interesting chipset from Nvidia rhe 590. There will be introversions of this and that will be something to look for. But last not at least ATI will have a chipset for the Conroe, So atm it’s definitely too early and anyway not anyone should worry about this cause Conroe isn’t yet available. The accual retail will start around at the end of this month or beginning of August that there will be low availability for the first few weeks. So no one should hurry, I would wait at least a one to two months and then make a decision based upon user report on the forum or on other sites.
A: Will that what I was going to ask ‘Would you recommend people upgrading immediately… If they are thinking of moving-over from AMD or want to upgrade their existing intel system’. But it’s kind of a moot-point anyway cause the chipsets are not yet available and won’t readily available for some time.
C: Ahh right. There’s absolutely no need to rush out into something here, But one thing is clear. For somebody whom anyway be it an ‘AMD’ or ‘Intel’ user. Somebody whom anyway wanted to change their system by upgrading, He or She should wait. Until Conroe is available, prices have settled down and then have a nice look at Conroe that’s for sure. But somebody whom already running an AMD system, I don’t see a reason to change boards/sides here. For an Intel system, it’s a little bit different because of the advantages of is so huge between the previous generation Pentium 4 and Conroe, It should be a consideration. But for AMD users probably not, Again for somebody that’s anyway thinking to change for example an AMD user considering to change. To the new AM2 platform, I’d strongly recommend a closer look to Conroe.
A: If you already got an Intel systems that’s Conroe ready/supported. If you really want a big boost in power then maybe you should think about that.
C: Of course, Yes. For AMD interestingly the situation is a little bit different. Because of anyway some are users considering changing to DDR2, which anyway means they need a new motherboard, Even if they stay with AMD. So for these users it might be double tempting to change to Intel now. Because they would get the faster CPU and they don’t spend much more changing an AMD system. By then they need new memory, motherboard. So that’s quite a interesting situation which is currently in favor of Intel.
A: I kind of wonder if the timing has worked out badly for AMD. Because you right! They quite a lot of loyal AMD users may have been current in the moving process of shifting to AM2. Which would require a new motherboard, memory and CPU
C: Right… Right…
A: So they’re sitting waiting ‘Okay, I’m ready to spend that money’ and then Conroe comes out. Now Conroe looks really attractive
C: That exactly how I see it. I’m AMD got the timing little bit wrong here; They should have done this a little bit wrong here. Now they should of done this half a year ago. It’s basically an invitation to their own users to change to intel. Cause anyway they would have to spend money on new memory and motherboard. The change as we know from the previous platform to the new AM2 platform, The benefit is something like maybe 3-4%. It’s a unfavorable situation for AMD in that regurd of the new platform
A: That’s certainly very interesting. We have one very last question ‘How is it that you seem to get these engineering sample CPU’s and all these goodies, so early on’, Do you want to talk about that at all?
C: Well that’s very easy. I’m mean you have to be a registered reviewer at Intel, which mean you have to attend their seminars and they need to know that your are lets say… A reasonable person to test their products and at the given time they introduce a new product. They might send you a press kit; which includes testing samples, which normally have to be returned. What I have to say there is no secret about this. I’m know cause some people might say ‘these samples are handpicked by the manufacturer… Blah.. Blah.. Blah..’. Yes, That could be the case.
A: But there isn’t really any option is there?
C: No there is no option, Because there no retail Conroe’s available. In my last article about prescolt the previous Pentium-D model. I bought one CPU by myself a ‘real’ regular retail sampler and included it in the test. So I’ve got an engineering sample from Intel and a used-one retail sample. But wasn’t any real difference… Nothing! Intel to be honest a reputitable manufacture AMD or Intel they would never give out altered or hand-picked engineering samples for review. To have a splendid P-R and then a few weeks later users get different results that contradicts a reviews results, It would be a P-R disaster knowbody can be so stupid to do that.
A: That would be a perfect way to alienate your entire customer base.
A: Intel are not that stupid
A: Well is there anything else you like to say martin?
C: Ahh well No… I just want to mention again for all our members of OCAU, whom are folding. I would like them to consider the ‘change’ to Conroe ASAP, Because in the current situation everyone knows that. We need stronger support to regain the number one position and Conroe will help us J
A: If you don’t know what where talking about with folding. You can goto www.overclockers.com.au/folding. Basically what it is. A program that runs on your PC that uses the idle CPU time/cycles, so it doesn’t effect what your doing on your PC. Any spare CPU time is allocated to research for finding the cause of disease like Cancer, Mad-Cow disease and various other dieases. It’s an good excellent cause and it’s fun cause you can compete with your friends to see, whom gets the most points or work units done and a world-wide-race onto produce the most research data. OCAU did lead for a long time and we were the number one team in the world for quite some time. Where actually in second place at the moment, were in the middle of quite a strong fight back to regain first place. If you want head on over to the folding page www.overclockers.com.au/folding and all the info you need is there. We have a team OCAU forum as well to ask your question. Anyway, Enough folding spam!
A: Thank you very much martin. It’s been very interesting talking to you today
A: On a personal note. I want to thank you for that review cause if people, whom don’t know. I’m obvious based in Sydney and Martin is based in Japan. So he works quite independent from OCAU every now and then says “Hey I’ve got a review coming”, and I reply saying “Woo hooo”. But for this particular one were the top story on digg.com – which is a technology news aggregation site and we had over 1000 people on our news page for a long time about 12hrs or something. It was a big day for OCAU, So thank you very much
C: Oh!.. My pleasure and Great nice to hear that. Thank you James
Credits: Transcipted by: Adam Nelson "thetron"