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Reports detail \"Yonah\" processor specs, performance

Intel Corp. is preparing to make a splash early next year when it officially launches its next-generation dual-core \"Yonah\" notebook processors, which will initially debut at a top speed of 2.16GHz dual-core.

The world\'s largest microprocessor maker plans to introduce two versions of Yonah: a single core version running at 1.66GHz and dual-core versions in 1.66GHz, 1.83GHz, 2.0GHz, and 2.16GHz. The company will reportedly market the chips as Centrino \"Solo Core\" and \"Duo Core\" processors.

The Yonah processors, which are widely expected to power the first wave of Apple laptops and consumer desktops, will each sport a 667MHz font-side-bus (FSB) and 2MB Level 2 cache. A faster version of Yonah due by the middle of next year will reportedly increase the chip\'s top speed to 2.3GHz.

Yonah will offer several improvements over Intel\'s previous generation Pentium M chips based on the Dothan core. One of the most significant improvements Yonah has over Dothan is its dual-core nature. However, since Yonah is based on Intel\'s new 65nm process, a dual-core Yonah die is about the same size as a single core Dothan die. This allows Intel to manufacture a dual-core Yonah at approximately the same cost as a single-core Dothan.

According to an Intel Yonah roadmap that surfaced in September, the company plans to charge approximately $209 for single-core 1.66GHz Yonah chip. Dual-core versions will reportedly fetch $241 (1.66GHz), $295 (1.83GHz), $422 (2.0GHz), and $639 (2.16GHz) per unit.

In a recent series of business-oriented and multimedia benchmark tests, AnandTech compared a pre-production dual-core 2.0GHz Yonah processor to a 2.0GHz Dothan-based Pentium M 760, as well as three AMD Athlon 64 X2 processors ranging in speeds from 2.0GHz to 2.2GHz.

In the business applications test, Yonah failed to shine, primarily because applications like Microsoft Word and Outlook Express do not take on a heavily multithreaded workload, which dual-core chips are designed to optimize.

With Yonah, \"Intel has increased the L2 cache latency by 40%, and thus it is outperformed by the older, single core Pentium M processor despite the fact that they run at the same clock speed,\" AnandTech explained.

Yonah\'s performance in multimedia and 3D-intensive applications is a completely different story. In a Winstone 2004 multimedia content creation test, Yonah faired significantly better than the Pentium M with a score of 34.7 compared to the Pentium M\'s 28.3.

The dual-core chip\'s enhancements helped Yonah score second amongst the five chips in a Office Productivity SYSMark 2004 test and third in a SYSMark 2004 2D and 3D test. In both test, Yonah showed significant speed gains over the Pentium M.

In a final series of overall system performance test using WorldBench 5, the 2.0GHz Yonah score atop the list, just barely beating out AMD\'s 2.2GHz Athlon 64 X2 processor. Yonah also scored impressively in iTunes MP3 encoding, DVD ripping, 3dmax, Adobe Photoshop CS, and Adobe Premier benchmark tests. It also faired better than the Pentium M in gaming performance when tested with Battlefield 2, Black and White 2, F.E.A.R., Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory and Quake 4.

\"Our initial analysis still holds true, that for a notebook processor, [Yonah] will be nothing short of amazing for professionals.  Looking at the performance improvements offered everywhere from media encoding to 3D rendering, you\'re going to be able to do a lot more on your notebook than you originally thought possible (without resorting to a 12-pound desktop replacement),\" AnandTech wrote in summarizing Yonah\'s performance. \"The one thing that Intel\'s [Yonah] seems to be able to do very well is to truly bridge the gap between mobile and desktop performance, at least in thin and light packages.\"

As first reported by AppleInsider sources in November, Apple hopes to be one of — if not the first — PC maker to introduce systems based on Yonah when it shows the first Intel Macs at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco during the second week of January.

Already the game is heating up, with NEC this week revealing details of its first Yonah laptops without getting into the specifics of the Yonah processors that will power the machines. Not to be outdone, Dell in Frebuary will reveal a slew of new laptops based on Yonah, including a full range of Precision M90, Lattitude D620 and Lattitude D820 models, according to a recent report.

Intel is expected to formally unveil Yonah along with its \"Viiv\" media center technology during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) which kicks-off on Jaunary 5th, just days before Apple chief executive Steve Jobs will appear before a Macworld Expo crowd to introduce the company\'s latest consumer products.