Intel Core i7 Nehalem launching on November 17

By Koushik Saha on 6.11.08

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Intel provided information about its next-generation micro-architecture (Nehalem) with the Core i7 processors at a media event on Wednesday in Athens, Greece, prior to the worldwide official release of the system on November 17.

The event ran under the headline of "the fastest processor on the planet". The two major characteristics of the new i7 architecture are the triple-channel integrated memory controllers and the new interface called Quick Path Interconnect (QPI). Other highlights include the monolithic die to consolidate all four cores in a single piece of silicon, and the shared L3 cache. Further improvements include the use of the Hyper-threading as well as the Turbo Boost technologies. The Core i7 processors are also optimized to operate with Intel's X58 chipset.The Corei7 series will feature three quad-core models: The 2.66 GHz Core i7 920 will aim for the sub-$1000 class of PCs, the 2.93 GHz Core i7 940 for more expensive PCs in the $1500-$2000 range and the 3.2 GHz 965 Extreme Edition at enthusiast PCs.

The prices (1K pieces) of these CPUs are $999 for the Extreme Edition, $562 for the 940 and $284 for the 920.The X58 Express chipset covers both the northbridge/southbridge operations. The X58 IOH supports up to 36 PCIe 2.0 lanes. Depending on the processor model, QPI may run at either 6.4 GT/sec (Core i7-965) or 6.4 GT/sec (Core i7-940, i7-920) to communicate with the X58 Express chipset in each direction. This is twice the bandwidth of Intel's currently available X48 chipset, plus the full-duplex transport instead of the half-duplex. AMD's HyperTransport 3.0 still has an advantage herewith up to 41.6GB/s of bi-directional bandwidth.However, the X58 Express does not support the legacy PS/2 IDE, serial or parallel ports.

Turbo mode

Under the "TurboMode", the utilization of the number of active cores is used to adjust the frequency. For example, if only two cores are active, then there will be much more headroom within the thermal and power envelope and the CPU will be clocked higher. So the "turbo" frequencies of each core depend on the number of cores active. We could say that this is mainly a power saving feature.

Turbo Mode boasts single threaded applications as well as the performance of multi-threaded applications, according to Intel. Below is a graph that Intel showed with the Core i7 Extreme CPU to process in single-core and quad-core configurations, with Turbo Mode enabled. The graph shows the percent performance increase with Turbo Mode enable.

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