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Intel Core i5-661 Clarkdale Processor Review - Westmere debuts

Author: Ryan Shrout
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: Intel

Intel HD Graphics

For the enthusiast consumer, mentioning using a system with integrated Intel graphics is almost like a death sentence.  For mainstream consumers, where both Clarkdale and Arrandale are aimed, the reaction is usually much more...muted.  For the majority of consumers (and OEMs) that aren't gaming the integration of graphics into their system is just one less thing to worry about and one more way to save money. 

Intel is hoping that with the updated and improved "Intel HD Graphics" solution integrated into the Clarkdale and Arrandale parts they can gain a bit more notoriety and respect.  Intel is still realistic though - notice they are only going for the "mainstream gaming" market with the new technology along with improved video and audio support.  To be honest, the gaming experience of the Intel HD Graphics is going to be a letdown for most readers but the improvement in support for HD video and uncompressed Blu-ray audio will likely make Clarkdale a very impressive HTPC system.

The integrated graphics on Clarkdale does offer some interesting features that should make notebook users take notice.  Support for DXVA HD video acceleration for Blu-ray and other H.264 video content is there as are optimizations for Adobe Flash and Silverlight.  As of the Flash 10.1 Beta 2, Intel will offer similar Flash video acceleration to the much hyped NVIDIA ION chipset

As we saw demonstrated at the Intel Developer Forum last September, the Intel HD Graphics supports the new dual-stream Blu-ray standard, which is a boost over what the 4-series integrated graphics could muster. 

The Intel team put a lot of work behind the software of the newly updated graphics core and I have to say I was more than impressed with the options and settings available in the new control panel.  HTPC users will be glad to see this option: easy to use custom resolution settings.

I have included the detailed comparison that Intel provided of the new Intel HD Graphic core to the integrated graphics on the 4-series of chipset and the LGA775 processor platform.  From an architectural level, not much has changed: there are 12 shader processors compared to the 10 in the previous generation, vertex processing improvements, support for up to 1.7GB of memory, OpenGL 2.1 support and frequency scaling options for the mobile platforms.  It is still a DX10 capable GPU and can support up to 2560x1600 resolutions along with dual HDMI connections. 

I will have some tests of the gaming prowess of the Intel HD Graphics later as well.

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