Intel 's upcoming 45nm processor architecture will deliver clock-for-clock performance increases of up to 30 per cent. That's according to detailed benchmarks published on a Hong Kong-based website.

HKEPC.com claims to have snagged an engineering sample of the dual-core desktop variant of Intel's new 45nm processor architecture. A quad-core model using a pair of these processor dies packed into a single package, known as Penryn , will also be offered when Intel launches the 45nm family towards the end of 2007.

The dual-core 45nm chip acquired by HKEPC, codenamed Wolfdale, clocks in at 2.33GHz and boasts 6MB of shared L2 cache memory. The website benchmarked it against Intel's existing 2.33GHz Core 2 Duo processor, the E6550 with 4MB of cache.

In many typical productivity applications including image editing and Microsoft Office, the new CPU will apparently deliver a performance boost of around 5 to 15 per cent. Handy, but hardly earth shattering. However, for certain application types - including gaming - the new architecture produces more impressive results. The performance bump is over 30 per cent in Half-Life 2, for instance.

Video transcoding

The most dramatic performance increase is a 115.63 per cent leap in video transcoding rates, in the cited case from 1080p MPEG2 to DivX 6.6. However, that test leverages the new SSE4 multimedia instruction set that will debut on the new 45nm processors. In other words, it's not a direct apples-for-apples comparison with the older chip.

A number of other detail enhancements contribute to Wolfdale's improved clock-for-clock performance. Existing Core 2 features including Wide Dynamic Execution, Advanced Smart Cache, Advanced Digital Media Boost and Intelligent Power Capability all receive upgrades.

However, even more impressive are the improvements in power consumption rather than outright performance. Total system power consumption under load drops from 83W for the Core 2 Duo E6550-powered PC to just 59W courtesy of Wolfdale. If those figures are accurate, the new 45nm family looks like an all-round winner for Intel.

It's also worth noting that the new 45nm production process should allow Intel to reach higher clockspeeds. We already know that Intel plans to launch 45nm quad-core models at 3.16GHz.

Given the impressive reduction in power consumption at 2.33GHz and the fact that Intel already ships 65nm quad-core chips running at 3GHz, odds are Intel will be able to push out quad-core Penryn processors well beyond 3GHz.