Two years ago in Taiwan at Computex 2006 Gary Key and I stayed up all night benchmarking the Core 2 Extreme X6800, the first Core micro-architecture (Conroe core) CPU we had laid our hands on. While Intel retroactively applied its tick-tock model to previous CPU generations, it was the Core micro-architecture and the Core 2 Duo in particular that kicked it all off.

At the end of last year we saw the first update to Core, the first post-Conroe "tick" if you will: Penryn. Penryn proved to be a nice upgrade to Conroe, reducing power consumption even further and giving a slight boost to performance. What Penryn didn't do however was shake the world the way Conroe did upon its launch in 2006.

 

After every tick however, comes a tock. While Penryn was a die shrink of an existing architecture, Nehalem is a brand new architecture built on the same 45nm process as Penryn. It's sort of a big deal, being the first tock after the incredibly successful Core 2 launch.

 
731M transistors, four cores, eight threads

It's like clockwork with Intel; around six months before the release of a new processor, it's sent over to Intel's partners so they may begin developing motherboards for the chip. It was true with Northwood, Prescott, Conroe, Penryn and now Nehalem. And plus, did you really expect, on the eve of the two year anniversary of our first Core 2 preview, a trip to Taiwan for Computex without benchmarks of Nehalem? In the words of Balki Bartokomous, don't be ridiculous :)


Yep, that's what you think it is

Without Intel's approval, supervision, blessing or even desire - we went ahead and snagged us a Nehalem (actually, two) and spent some time with them.

(Sorry guys, stop making interesting chips and we'll stop trying to get an early look at them :)...)

Not One Nehalem, but Two
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  • Justin Case - Sunday, June 08, 2008 - link

    The chances of AMD dying are approximately... zero. The question is whether they stay as an independent company or get bought by someone else. Their IP and patent portfolio alone are worth more than the company's current value, even if they didn't sell a single CPU and didn't have any fabs.

    The top candidate is Samsung, followed by IBM, followed by the UAE. But the real nightmare scenario is this: Microsoft buys AMD, and slowly makes its software incompatible with (or run much slower on) everyone else's CPUs. After that, they have zero incentive to improve the chips, because no one else can compete anyway.

    Since it's been shown that Microsoft can violate antitrust legislation as much as it wants (as long as it pays off a few senators), this is not at all impossible. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
    Reply
  • VooDooAddict - Monday, June 09, 2008 - link

    That would be the beginning of the end for MS.

    MS buys AMD? .... that would be the day I buy a fully loaded Mac Pro.
    Reply
  • Griswold - Friday, June 06, 2008 - link

    Listenting to whom? Somebody as naive and clueless as you, who apparently believes breaking laws in the past should be forgiven and forgotten until there is no competition at all, because the market will magically make things work out perfectly for the customer anyway...?
    Reply
  • n0b0dykn0ws - Thursday, June 05, 2008 - link

    If Nehalem comes out and does run circles around current processors, then we're better off, right?

    The only problem is that Intel is holding back on it's CPUs.

    Without competition, Intel will only give us 'just a little taste'.

    Me personally? I want the full strength version at today's prices.

    n0b0dykn0ws
    Reply
  • Rev1 - Monday, June 09, 2008 - link

    AMd is still competitive in the price segment of lower end cpu's, and after the PT4 debacle intel doesnt wanna loosen it's grip anytime soon to AMD. Reply
  • Zurtex - Thursday, June 05, 2008 - link

    You've written:

    "Encoding performance here went through the roof with Nehalem: a clock for clock boost of 44%."

    But your graph shows the exact opposite. I'm assuming you just got the numbers on the graph the wrong way around, rather than your analysis mixed up.
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Thursday, June 05, 2008 - link

    Uh, sometimes bits get flipped when in transfer from Taiwan, yeah, that's it.

    Anyhow, thanks for the notice. Fixed.
    Reply
  • 8steve8 - Thursday, June 05, 2008 - link

    exactly what I expected.

    imc was long overdue for intel...


    can't wait to buy one, but I've been hearing us mere consumers wont be able to until well into 09?

    Reply

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