Intel Core i5 661 Dual Core LGA 1156 Processor Review

Several years ago I was having a conversation with a geek at work (actually the only other geek at work at the time). Don’t remember exactly when it was, but I think that the AMD64 had just been released, so probably around 7 years ago. He was telling me about an article he had read in one of the PC magazines about what AMD had planned for the future. He talked of a triple-core processor with on-die graphics processing from the third core.

I had mixed feelings about that, I had given up integrated graphics only a few years earlier. I had yet to experience high-end video cards, but the midrange ones were impressive enough for someone that had spent the previous 15 years looking at onboard video. But obviously this was intended for the market that already used integrated graphics. And there is no way I could have envisioned the future popularity of mATX, HTPC, and other small footprint computers, nor did I realize the future immense popularity of the laptop, which would greatly benefit from on-chip graphics processing.

I never really thought about Intel going with on-die graphics processing, but the significant technology changes built into the LGA 1156 processors released last year, including using PCI-E for the I/O bus and for direct communication with the VGA, made it a natural for graphics processing taking place on the CPU.

For 2010, Intel has introduced a new line of processors code named “Clarkdale”, and will be known as the Core i5 600 series. At this point there are four processors in this series, the 650, the 660, the 670, and the 661. Today I will be looking at the Intel Core i5 661, a dual core LGA 1156 processor built in the 32nm process, with on-die video processing. This should make it a natural for HTPC and non-gaming rigs. How will the i5 661 fare with this geek who has had the honor of reviewing some of the most powerful video cards in the world? Read on to see!

Model: Intel Core i5 661
# of Cores: 2
# of Threads: 4
Processor Base Frequency: 3.33gHz
Max Turbo Frequency: 3.6gHz
Intel® Smart Cache: 4 MB
Instruction Set: 64-bit
Instruction Set Extensions: SSE4.1, SSE4.2
Max TDP: 87 W
Package Size: 37.5 mm x 37.5 mm
Processing Die Lithography: 32 nm
Processing Die Size: 81 mm2
# of Processing Die Transistors: 382 million
Graphics and IMC Lithography: 45 nm
Graphics and IMC Die Size: 114 mm2
# of Graphics and IMC Die Transistors: 177 million

Memory Support:
Max Memory Size (dependent on memory type): 16 GB
Memory Types: DDR3-1066/1333
# of Memory Channels: 2

Graphics Specifications:
Graphics Base Frequency: 900 MHz
Intel® Clear Video Technology
Dual Display Capable

Intel® Turbo Boost Technology: Yes
Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology: Yes
Intel® Virtualization Technology (VT-x): Yes
Intel® Virtualization Technology for Directed I/O (VT-d): No
Intel® Trusted Execution Technology: No
AES New Instructions: Yes
Intel® 64: Yes
Idle States: Yes
Enhanced Intel® Speedstep Technology: Yes
Execute Disable Bit: Yes

Socket Support: LGA 1156
Available Chipsets: P55 Express, H55 Express, H57 Express, Q57 Express