Intel Core 2 Duo EmperorLinux offers total hardware support for SMP with Intel Core Duo and Core 2 Duo
Intel Core Duo Logo
Intel Core 2 Duo Logo

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 -j N), 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 1.

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.