Intel 32nm Clarkdale Core i5 661 CPU with integrated GPU

Intel had a great 2009 with Nehalem and Lynnfield. Will Clarkdale and 32nm kick 2010 off with a bang or a pop? Let's take a look and see.

@TweakTown
Published Sun, Jan 3 2010 11:05 PM CST   |   Updated Tue, Nov 3 2020 7:02 PM CST
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction


Intel 32nm Clarkdale Core i5 661 CPU with integrated GPU 01 | TweakTown.com
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In 2009 Intel seemed to be on a serious roll, almost unstoppable as they answered every one of AMD's offerings. Even when AMD dropped their prices to create a better price/performance option, Intel simply launched the 1156 Lynnfield. Even the least powerful of these (the Core i5 750) was more than the equal of much higher priced AMD CPUs. But Intel, as we mentioned, was (and still is) on a roll. They were not content to sit back and enjoy their success.

Instead they moved to capture another market. Following on the heels of the Lynnfield that brought the most of the functions of the Northbridge into the CPU, they pushed out Clarkdale. This new CPU not only puts a GPU on the same packaging as the CPU, but also is the first CPU from Intel to be created on the 32nm process.

Will Clarkdale and the Core i5 661 start 2010 off with a bang for Intel? Let's read on to find out.

What's New?




Intel 32nm Clarkdale Core i5 661 CPU with integrated GPU 02 | TweakTown.com


The Clarkdale CPU represents an evolutionary step in the CPU; this is a move to a combined CPU and GPU. It is something that NVIDIA and AMD both want to do as well. However, neither AMD nor NV can do anything about it right now. NV is locked by the lack of an x86 license and AMD is not in a position to make this move due to financial problems that have hindered R&D. This has allowed Intel to get off the opening shots in the CPU+GPU wars that are soon to follow.

Intel 32nm Clarkdale Core i5 661 CPU with integrated GPU 03 | TweakTown.com


Of course, there were things that had to be done before this was a possibility. The first was accomplished with Nehalem; the moving of the memory controller off of the Northbridge and into the CPU. The next was taken care of by Lynnfield; the removal of the need for a Northbridge at all. Once these two items were out of the way, Intel was free to move a small GPU onto the CPU packaging and use the available PCI-e Gen 2 lanes in the CPU Die for the connection. The rest is history as Intel can claim (and rightly so) that they have the world's first CPU+GPU offering.

Intel 32nm Clarkdale Core i5 661 CPU with integrated GPU 04 | TweakTown.com


Clarkdale puts together a Dual Core 32nm Lynnfield style CPU (complete with Hyper Threading) and a 45nm Intel Graphics Media Accelerator HD at either 733MHz (Core i5 6xx) or 900MHz (Core i5 6x1). This when combined with the H55, H57 or Q57 chipset would seem to make for an excellent entry level option.

Intel 32nm Clarkdale Core i5 661 CPU with integrated GPU 05 | TweakTown.com


Of course, there is more to Clarkdale than just this. Intel has made some adjustments to the smart cache, added in new hardware acceleration for AES algorithms and a few other "under the hood" advancements. Clarkdale also brings some old friends along with it, like Hyper-Threading, Turbo Boost and Smart Cache.

For the GMA HD, there are also some updates. Of course these are more for mainstream graphical performance and not gaming. They include optimizations for Silverlight and Flash, DXVA-HD Acceleration, optimizations for the most common HD codecs and advanced memory and power controls.

Intel 32nm Clarkdale Core i5 661 CPU with integrated GPU 06 | TweakTown.com

Intel 32nm Clarkdale Core i5 661 CPU with integrated GPU 07 | TweakTown.com

Overclocking




The Core i5 661 Clarkdale is an interesting CPU. As it has the GPU right on the package, we were concerned that we would see overheating problems with the IGP once we really pushed the CPU.

While we did not see heat related issues, we did see what seemed to be a voltage issue when we pushed past 4.3GHz. At this speed the IGP seemed to be unable to deal with the speeds and the ASRock H55 board did not have a high enough IGP voltage tweak to remove this.

In the end we were able to only get a 4.3GHz stable OC out of our i5 661. This may change with BIOS updates or on a different motherboard, but for now it was as far as we could go using the IGP.

Intel 32nm Clarkdale Core i5 661 CPU with integrated GPU 08 | TweakTown.com

Using the IGP


Intel 32nm Clarkdale Core i5 661 CPU with integrated GPU 09 | TweakTown.com

Using discrete graphics


You can see the validation for the i5 661 using the IGP here and the one with an add-in board here.


As all overclocking results are dependent on the hardware you use, your results may vary.

Results of our overclocking tests are included in the performance section with the stock scores.


Important Editor Note: Our maximum overclocking result is the best result we managed in our limited time of testing the motherboard. Due to time constraints we weren't able to tweak the motherboard to the absolute maximum and find the highest possible FSB, as this could take days to find properly. We do however spend at least a few hours overclocking every motherboard to try and find the highest possible overclock in that time frame. You may or may not be able to overclock higher if you spend more time tweaking or as new BIOS updates are released. "Burn-in" time might also come into play if you believe in that.

Test System Setup and Comments


Test Systems

Processor: Intel Core i5 661
Mainboard ASRock H55 Deluxe (Supplied by ASRock)
Memory: 4GB Kingston KHX12800D3T1K3/6GX (Supplied by Kingston)
Hard Disk: Kingston SSD Now M (Intel X25-M 80GB SSD) (Supplied by Kingston)
Graphics Card: Zotac GTX 285 AMP! Edition 1GB (flashed to stock BIOS) (Supplied by Zotac)
Cooling: Cooler Master Hyper 212 (with an extra fan) (Supplied by Cooler Master)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
Drivers: Intel INF 9.1.1.1015, ForceWare 195.62


Processor: Intel Core i7 870, Intel Core i5 750
Mainboard ASRock P55 Deluxe (P130 BIOS) (Supplied by ASRock)
Memory: 4GB Kingston KHX12800D3T1K3/6GX (Supplied by Kingston)
Hard Disk: Kingston SSD Now M (Intel X25-M 80GB SSD) (Supplied by Kingston)
Graphics Card: Zotac GTX 285 AMP! Edition 1GB (flashed to stock BIOS) (Supplied by Zotac)
Cooling: Cooler Master Hyper 212 (with an extra fan) (Supplied by Cooler Master)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
Drivers: Intel INF 9.1.1.1015, ForceWare 195.62


Processor: Intel Core i7 975, Intel Core i7 965, Intel Core i7 920
Mainboard ASRock X58 Extreme (P130 BIOS) (Supplied by ASRock)
Memory: 6GB Kingston KHX12800D3T1K3/6GX (Supplied by Kingston)
Hard Disk: Kingston SSD Now M (Intel X25-M 80GB SSD) (Supplied by Kingston)
Graphics Card: Zotac GTX 285 AMP! Edition 1GB (flashed to stock BIOS) (Supplied by Zotac)
Cooling: Cooler Master Hyper 212 (with an extra fan) (Supplied by Cooler Master)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
Drivers: Intel INF 9.1.0.1007, ForceWare 195.62


Processor: AMD Phenom II x4 955 Black Edition
Mainboard Asus M4A79T Deluxe (BIOS 1604) (Supplied by Asus)
Memory: 4GB Kingston KHX12800D3T1K3/6GX (Supplied by Kingston)
Hard Disk: Kingston SSD Now M (Intel X25-M 80GB SSD) (Supplied by Kingston)
Graphics Card: Zotac GTX 285 AMP! Edition 1GB (flashed to stock BIOS) (Supplied by Zotac)
Cooling: Cooler Master Hyper 212 (with an extra fan) (Supplied by Cooler Master)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate x64
Drivers: AMD Driver Version 3.0.732.0, ForceWare 195.62


It feels like with each new CPU from Intel, the list of systems needed to properly compare them just gets longer. Well, no matter, we did test each one again to ensure we were getting the best results to show you.

With the Core i5 661, we tested using the IGP as well as with an add-in GPU. We wanted to see if there is any noticeable overhead from having the GPU right on the CPU packaging.

Each system received a fresh install of Windows 7 Ultimate x64 to avoid any performance issues caused by residual drivers.

Synthetic Tests - Part I


With any system you will want to see a combination of synthetic testing and real-world. Synthetics give you a static, easily repeatable testing method that can be compared across multiple platforms. For our synthetic tests we use Everest Ultimate, Sisoft Sandra, FutureMark's 3DMark Vantage and PCMark Vantage, CINEBENCH as well as HyperPi. Each of these covers a different aspect of performance or a different angle of a certain type of performance.


CPU Raw Performance

For CPU Raw Performance we want to look at the theoretical performance numbers. This means how many GigaFlops you can get, how many megapixels etc. We also test for memory bandwidth. As memory controllers are moved onto the CPU and away from the Northbridge, we see memory performance increasing, but also becoming much more CPU dependent than mainboard dependent.

To test memory and Raw CPU performance we use a combination of Sisoft Sandra and HyperPi 0.99.


Sisoft Sandra

Version and / or Patch Used: 2009 SP3c
Developer Homepage: http://www.sisoftware.net
Product Homepage: http://www.sisoftware.net
Buy It Here

Intel 32nm Clarkdale Core i5 661 CPU with integrated GPU 10 | TweakTown.com


Taking a look at the Core i5 661 in the group we have here gives us an interesting perspective on how well Intel has improved Hyper Threading and their CPU architecture in general. The i5 661 can hold its own as a dual core CPU with Hyper Threading, even when matched against other true quad core CPUs. It is true that it cannot keep up in all respects, but it does very well.


HyperPi 0.99

Version and / or Patch Used: 0.99
Developer Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br
Product Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br
Download It Here

HyperPi is a front end for SuperPi that allows for multiple concurrent instances of SuperPi to be run on each core recognized by the system. It is very dependent on CPU to memory to HDD speed. The faster these components the faster it is able to figure out the number Pi to the selected length. For our testing we use the 32M run. This means that each of the four physical and four logical cores for the i7 (four total on the PII x4 955 and Core i5) is trying to calculate the number Pi out to 32 million decimal places. Each "run" is a comparative to ensure accuracy, and any stability or performance issues in the loop mentioned above will cause errors in calculation.

Intel 32nm Clarkdale Core i5 661 CPU with integrated GPU 11 | TweakTown.com


Again we see the Core i5 661 do well when matched up against the rest of the field. It even beats out some of the higher end Intel Core i7 CPUs.

Synthetic Tests - Part II


Overall System performance and Gaming

Here is where we dig out the FutureMark tests.

PCMark Vantage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0.0
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/
Product Homepage: www.futuremark.com
Buy It Here

For overall system performance we use PCMark Vantage. This is run in both x86 and x64 mode to give the best indication of performance.

Intel 32nm Clarkdale Core i5 661 CPU with integrated GPU 12 | TweakTown.com


The Core i5 does well again, even passing the Core i5 750 in stock performance when matched up with the same GPU. Of course, the 661 is 3.33GHz vs. the 2.66GHz on the 750, but still, we are talking about four real cores vs. two real + two virtual in the 661. This would seem to show that the 32nm Dual Core Core i5 661 is even a good choice for a system if you are planning on using a discrete GPU.


3DMark Vantage

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/
Product Homepage: www.futuremark.com
Buy It Here

For synthetic gaming tests we used the industry standard and overlockers bragging tool 3DMark Vantage. This is a test that strives to mimic the impact modern games have on a system. FutureMark went a long way to change from the early days of graphics driven tests to a broader approach including physics, AI, and more advanced graphics simulations.

3DMark Vantage uses the DX10 API in addition to having support for PhysX. Due to the PhysX support and our use of an NVIDIA GPU, we run with PhysX enabled and disabled to give you the best indication of real system performance. For testing we use the Performance test run.

Intel 32nm Clarkdale Core i5 661 CPU with integrated GPU 13 | TweakTown.com


Sadly the Core i5 661 is just not a gaming CPU. The IGP included has some issues running 3DMark Vantage. At the Performance level it struggles greatly and ends up coming in last. Even when we add a GTX 285 to the mix, the Core i5 661 has problems keeping up.


CINEBENCH R10 x64

Version and / or Patch Used: R10
Developer Homepage: http://www.maxon.net/
Product Homepage: www.maxon.net
Download It Here

CINEBENCH is a synthetic rendering tool developed by Maxon. Maxon is the same company that developed Cinema4D another industry leading 3D Animation application. CINEBENCH R10 tests your systems ability to render across a single and multiple CPU cores. It also tests your systems ability to process OpenGL information.

Intel 32nm Clarkdale Core i5 661 CPU with integrated GPU 14 | TweakTown.com


In our CINEBENCH testing the Core i5 661 shows good performance at both single and multi-core rendering. While the numbers may show it in last place, you do still need to remember that this is only a dual core CPU. For it to show the numbers it does in this test, it's quite impressive.

Real-World Tests Part I


Real-world testing allows us to see how well a product will perform when used in the same manner as it would be in your house or office. It is an important side to performance testing as it can uncover hidden glitches in the way a product performs.

For real-world testing we use some common applications and functions. We test with LightWave 3D for rendering performance, AutoGK for Transcoding from DVD to AVI and two games for gaming testing.


Rendering

Rendering of 3D Animation is a system intensive endeavor. You need good CPU, memory and HDD speed to get good rendering times. For our testing we use LightWave 3D. This software from Newtek is an industry standard and has several pre-loaded scenes for us to use.


LightWave 3D

Version and / or Patch Used: 9.6
Developer Homepage: http://www.newtek.com
Product Homepage: http://www.newtek.com/lightwave/
Buy It Here

Intel 32nm Clarkdale Core i5 661 CPU with integrated GPU 15 | TweakTown.com


LightWave 3D 9.6 shows pretty much the same story. The Core i5 661 as a dual core CPU (with Hyper Threading) can keep pace, and even out run many native Quad Core CPUs. Still, you can plainly see it is not what you would call a workstation or Prosumer CPU.


AutoGK

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.55
Developer Homepage: http://www.autogk.me.uk/
Product Homepage: http://www.autogk.me.uk/
Download It Here

AutoGK stands for Auto Gordian Knot; it is a suite of transcoding tools that are compiled into an easy to install and use utility. It allows you to transcode non-protected DVDs and other media to Xvid or Divx format. For our testing purposes we use a non-DRM restricted movie that is roughly 2 hours in length. This is transcoded to a single Xvid AVI at 100% quality.

Intel 32nm Clarkdale Core i5 661 CPU with integrated GPU 16 | TweakTown.com


Sadly the Core i5 661 is also not very good at transcoding. It simply does not have the power (or the extra cores) to get the job done quickly. This is a potential problem as transcoding is very much a mainstream workload now. Even kids have multiple applications to transcode video for us in their iPods and or Zunes.

Real-World Tests Part II


Here we have our real gaming tests. Each of the games we chose use multiple cores and GPUs. They are able to stress the system through use of good AI. Both have decent positional audio that adds impact to the sound subsystem of the board. We ran each game through the level or parts listed and recorded frames per second using FRAPS. This brings the whole game into play.

*** A word on gaming as a CPU test ***

Gaming is no longer a good indication of true CPU performance. As you push over 1024x768 resolutions you see the GPU take over and dominate the performance scale. This is even evident in 3DMark Vantage testing. The CPU score can be through the roof and still not add more than a handful of points to the overall score.

This does not mean the gaming is not of value for testing. It can show an issue with the CPU and gaming if the CPU is unable to meet the speed expected of a certain GPU. But for the most part you are not going to see great differences in performance between CPUs in high resolution gaming.



Cryostasis: Sleep of Reason

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0
Timedemo or Level Used: From Ship Entry until third Spirit Journey
Developer Homepage: http://www.505games.co.uk
Product Homepage: http://cryostasis-game.com
Buy It Here


Cryostasis : Sleep of Reason is an interesting game. It is heavy on PhysX so to play it properly you will really want an NVIDIA GPU. However, that aside, it can be immersive. Imagine Myst with guns and monsters.

One of the cool concepts is the spirit journeys. These allow you to enter the past of lost souls. You have to change their past to change your future. Each one makes for a nice diversion and requires you to think about what you are doing and how it will affect the outcome of the game. The settings we used are shown below.

Intel 32nm Clarkdale Core i5 661 CPU with integrated GPU 80 | TweakTown.com


Intel 32nm Clarkdale Core i5 661 CPU with integrated GPU 17 | TweakTown.com



Far Cry 2

Version and / or Patch Used: V1.00
Timedemo or Level Used: Clearing the Safe house through to the Rescue
Developer Homepage: http://www.ubi.com
Product Homepage: http://farcry.us.ubi.com

Buy It Here

Far Cry 2 is a large sandbox style game. There are no levels here, so as you move about the island you are on you do not have to wait for the "loading" sign to go away. It is mission driven so each mission is what you would normally think of as the next "Level".

In the game you take the role of a mercenary who has been sent to kill the Jackal. Unfortunately your malaria kicks in and you end up being found by him. Long story short, you become the errand boy for a local militia leader and run all over the island doing his bidding. The settings we used for testing are shown below.

Intel 32nm Clarkdale Core i5 661 CPU with integrated GPU 81 | TweakTown.com


Intel 32nm Clarkdale Core i5 661 CPU with integrated GPU 18 | TweakTown.com


As we mentioned before, the Core i5 661 is not a gaming CPU. When tested at "gamer" resolutions, it fails miserably. When we did tone things down we found that we could play both games at 1280 x 768 and get around 28-30 FPS. You do sacrifice Anti-Aliasing and quite a bit of eye candy to get this, but you could use it as a very entry level gaming GPU.

Final Thoughts




I think that Intel is on to something with Clarkdale and the move to a CPU + a GPU. Sure, they took the idea from AMD who talked about this long ago, but AMD failed to execute on the concept. Personally I think that prior to hitting the process size and architecture that we see from Intel, putting a GPU either in the CPU die or on the packaging would not have been possible. There were too many things that needed to be done before it could work.

I am a little disappointed with the performance of the IGP. I would have liked to have seen a little more power for gaming than I did. Still, I cannot deny that the CPU portion is amazing. When I first ran through the tests I was disappointed in the results; then I reminded myself that I was testing a dual core CPU with two extra virtual cores against native quad cores and quad cores with Hyper Threading. Then the results came into focus.

The Core i5 661 is a great CPU, especially at the $200 price point. It performs very well for what it is and has great overclocking potential thanks to the 32nm process, lower power demands and some other nice improvements from Intel. I think that this CPU/GPU combo does have a place in the market and when paired with the right motherboard is capable of quite a lot.

So, even with the lack of gaming power, I think that Clarkdale is a great opening shot in the new war of stuffing the GPU into the CPU. I hope that AMD's return shot is just as good and also comes soon.

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