Just like the Core i5 600-series, the Core i3 is based on Nehalem architecture, with integrated memory controller, Hyper threading technology, shared L3 cache, two
RAM channels and integrated graphics. The turbo feature is excluded to create a noticeable difference between the two series.
There is however a few elements you must live without, like the Advanced Encryption Standard: New instructions (AES-NI) which add hardware-acceleration to
algorithms and supported applications, and the Intel Trusted Execution Technology (TXT) that improves security. In exchange you get this:
Intel Smart Cache: The shared cache memory is allocated dynamically to each processor core, based on the work load. This effective and optimized procedure makes it easier for each core to get quick access to data, reducing the latency on frequently used data.
Intel Hyper-Threading Technology: Delivers two logical threads for each physical core - a total of 4 threads, providing better calculating power. Intel HT makes it possible to work faster, and more threads for the operating system, makes multi-tasking even easier. In short, you'll be able to do more work in less time.
Integrated Memory Controller: The integrated RAM controller offers fantastic read/write performance through effective algorithms, lower latency and higher memory bandwidth.
Intel Graphics Media Accelerator HD: Extended video and 3D-engine for smooth HD-playback in video and games without the need of a dedicated graphics card or decoder. The Intel GMA HD has a wide range of optimizations for 3D, and technology designed to improve the picture quality and performance. It supports hardware-accelerated Blu-ray decoding, picture-in-picture and DirectX 10 as well as OpenGL 2.1
Intel Virtualization Technology: Intel VT makes hardware-support work on multiple virtual platforms. For companies, Intel VT provides improved administration, limited down time and the possibility to sustain productivity by isolating activities in separate partitions.
Intel Designed Thermal Solution: Includes a 4-pin connector to minimize the acoustic noise level from the fan at high speeds. The technology behind this fan speed control is based on actual processor temperatures and power consumptions - like on other motherboards.
New box cooler
The Core i3 processor isn't the only part getting a slight transformation - the bundled box cooler has changed as well. Because of the low heat and power consumption, there's no need for an effective cooling unit like it's the case with the Core i5 series, and this means that the Core i3 cooler is made from all aluminum.
Core i3-540 cooler (left) and Core i5-661 cooler (right)