Gecko's CPU Library

Intel Core 2 (Merom) processors

Introduction: July 2006


The Core 2 brand refered to a range of Intel's consumer 64-bit dual-core and 2x2 MCM quad-core CPUs with the x86-64 instruction set, based on the Intel Core microarchitecture, derived from the 32-bit dual-core Yonah laptop processor. Note: the Yonah's silicon chip or die comprised two interconnected cores - each similar to those branded Pentium M. The 2x2 MCM dual-die quad-core CPU had two separate dual-core dies (CPUs) - next to each other - in one quad-core MCM package. The Core 2 relegated the Pentium brand to a lower-end market, and reunified laptop and desktop CPU lines, which previously had been divided into the Pentium 4, D, and M brands.

The Core microarchitecture returned to lower clock speeds and improved processors' usage of both available clock cycles and power compared with preceding NetBurst of the Pentium 4/D-branded CPUs. Core microarchitecture provided more efficient decoding stages, execution units, caches, and buses, reducing the power consumption of Core 2-branded CPUs, while increasing their processing capacity.

The Core 2 brand was introduced on July 27, 2006 comprising the Solo (single-core), Duo (dual-core), Quad (quad-core), and Extreme (dual- or quad-core CPUs for enthusiasts) branches, during 2007.

The Core 2-branded CPUs included: "Conroe" and "Allendale" (dual-core for higher- and lower-end desktops), "Merom" (dual-core for laptops), "Kentsfield" (quad-core for desktops), and their variants named "Penryn" (dual-core for laptops), "Wolfdale" (dual-core for desktops) and "Yorkfield" (quad-core for desktops). Note: for the server and workstation "Woodcrest", "Clovertown", and "Tigerton" CPUs saw the Xeon brand.

The Core 2 branded processors featured the Virtualization Technology (except T52x0, T5300, T54x0, T55x0 with stepping "B2", E2xx0, E4x00 and E8190 models), Execute Disable Bit, and SSE3. Their Core microarchitecture introduced also SSSE3, Trusted Execution Technology, Enhanced SpeedStep, and Active Management Technology (iAMT2). With a Thermal Design Power (TDP) of up to only 65W, the Core 2 dual-core Conroe consumed only half the power of less capable, but also dual-core Pentium D-branded desktop chips with a TDP of up to 130W (a high TDP requires additional cooling that can be noisy or expensive).

The Merom core

Merom, the first mobile version of the Core 2, was officially released on July 27, 2006 but quietly began shipping to PC manufacturers in mid-July alongside Conroe. Merom became Intel's premier line of mobile processors, with mostly the same features of Conroe, but with more emphasis on low power consumption to enhance notebook battery life. Merom-based Core 2 Duo provided 20% more performance yet maintained the same battery life as the Yonah-based Core Duo. Merom was the first Intel mobile processor to feature Intel 64 architecture.

The first version of Merom was "drop-in" compatible with Napa platform for Core Duo, requiring at most a motherboard BIOS update. It had a similar thermal envelope of 34W and the same 667MT/s FSB rate. The Merom die features 4MB L2 cache, half of which is deactivated in the T5xx0 CPUs. A native 2MB L2 version of the Merom core, called Merom-2M, was rolled out in early 2007. The Merom-2M core used the steppings L2 and M0 and the ultra-low-voltage versions of the Core 2 Duo used this core.

A second wave of Merom processors featuring an 800MT/s FSB and using the new Socket P was launched on May 9, 2007. These chips were part of Santa Rosa platform. Low voltage versions were also released on May 9, 2007.

The first Core 2 Solo processors were launched in Q3 2007 and consisted of the U2100 and U2200, which ran at 1.06 and 1.2GHz, respectively. They both featured a 533MHz FSB and were part of Intel's ULW family, running at only 5W. Like the rest of the Core 2 family, they were 64-bit compatible. They were released with compatibility with the Napa platform rather than the newer Santa Rosa platform due to power consumption concerns.

Merom was the Hebrew word for a higher plane of existence or a level of heaven, BaMerom meant "in the heavens". The name was chosen by the Intel team in Haifa, Israel, who designed this processor.

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.