While inspecting Intel's latest mobile CPU launch, we noticed that the specifications are a little off.
Intel has taken upon itself to blur the very black and white lines that define L2 and L3 cache and simply rename them, and while you'll see most of them listed as having a massive wad of L2 cache... it simply is not true.
Here, take a look:
3MB of L2 cache would be a kick in the pants for these puppies
The cache designation on their mobile processors seem to be a bit FUDged and Intel might be passing this less-than-brilliant lesson on to retailers. This would explain why we've spotted retailers stocking 'miracle' notebooks which list high L2 cache values when in fact they are basically all the same.
If you're a bit of a geek and know your processors, you know Intel's Core i-something processors definitely do not have a huge cache. They have 256KB of L2 per core, as they are Nehalem derivatives. Of course, in a PC store, you'll think, "geez, the guy who wrote up this spec sheet is computer illiterate, he can't tell his L2 from his L3 cache".
That might be a bit too benign and naïve, although we have contacted Intel about this and are eagerly awaiting their answer.
The fact that Intel also introduced Smart Cache (as a technology) and started listing that 'feature' instead of the L2 cache further blurs the lines and doesn't help one bit. Smart Cache is supposed to give your processor cores a more intelligent approach to the instructions stored in L3 Cache, a bit like load-balancing to fetch instructions.
Conspiracy theorists and us generally paranoid hacks can picture the marketing people at Intel when confronted with Arrandale: "What?! 256KB L2 Cache?! That just won't do!" and then proceed to re-writing what engineers have basically carved in stone (or silicon).
So according to Intel, if you're a vendor and are trying to score some new Intel mobile CPUs, this is what the specs will look like:
Breaking down the info we have, we wake up to a different reality, as the performance impact of said cache would be huge:
Whether this is being done on purpose or just a huge continuous oversight by someone at Intel, retailers will have carte blanche to do as they will with the info. We've traced this practice to Intel slides as far back as April 1st this year (yes, yes) when Intel seems to have obfuscated the prefix L3 in their spec sheets.
Bad Intel, bad.