The Intel Core Duo processor (available March 2006) is the first true dual-core
CPU to be available in laptops and notebooks. Of course, Linux has had support
for Symmetric Multi Processing (SMP) for many years, and this is quite mature,
so it comes as no surprise that Linux takes full advantage of these new CPUs
in portables. The EmperorLinux Rhino D820,
Toucan T60, and Raven X60 are our
first dual-core systems. Several of these, running various Linux distributions,
were on display at our booth at the LinuxWorld Expo in Boston in April 2006.
What can you expect from the Core Duo CPU? You have two execution cores,
both running at the full clock speed, and a common 2MB cache. In everyday
applications, like email, web browsing and word processing (not typically
threaded applications), you will not see much difference at all, as they run on
a single CPU core. However, if you have two different applications running,
you will see more speed and smoother response from both, as they will each have
access to a CPU core for execution. Lowered contention from that typically
seen on single core machines is the win here. If you are compiling code with
well-written makefiles (like the Linux kernel itself, which accept make
run scientific applications, or have any other software designed specifically
to take advantage of SMP, you will see the most improvements. We have seen
kernel compiles completed in nearly half the time when doing -j 4 v/s -j
The 2MB shared cache is dynamically re-partitioned between the cores in 100KB
block increments. This means the system can provide you two cores with 1MB
cache each or allocate all 2MB cache to a single core (very nearly mimicking
the Pentium-M) or any variation in between.
Features of the Intel ICH7 chipset that comes with the Core Duo include the
next generation of Centrino wireless, the Intel Pro Wireless 3945 (ipw3945);
true SATA hard drive interface, with SATA drives; and Intel High-Def Audio.
The multiple PCI Express ports make possible the inclusion of optional
EVDO mobile broadband
via miniPCIe, and ExpressCard, the next generation of
CardBus-type hot-pluggable add-on peripheral support.
The Intel Core 2 Duo processor (available September 2006) adds more cache to the family, up to 4MB cache. The EmperorLinux Rhino M90
is our first Core 2 Duo system.
As of mid 2007, all EmperorLinux systems are now Core 2 Duo.