Not One Nehalem, but Two

Nehalem itself is very stable but it has only been in Taiwanese motherboard manufacturer hands for a relatively short while now, so the only truly mature motherboards are made by Intel. Unfortunately since Intel didn't sanction our little Nehalem excursion, we were left with little more than access to some early X58 based motherboards in Taiwan. Thankfully we had two setups to play with, each for a very limited time.

We had access to a 2.66GHz Nehalem for the longest time, unfortunately the motherboard it was paired with had some serious issues with memory performance. Not only was there no difference between single and triple channel memory configurations, memory latency was high. We know this was a board specific issue since our second Nehalem platform didn't exhibit any issues. Unfortunately we didn't have access to the more mature platform for very long at all, meaning the majority of our tests had to be run on the first setup (never fear, Nehalem is fast enough that it didn't end up mattering).

The second issue we ran into was a PCI Express problem that kept us from running any meaningful GPU benchmarks. We've been told that it'll take the motherboard guys about a month to work out these kinks, but that's why you shouldn't expect to see a full performance evaluation of Nehalem in the near term.

The CPUs are quite mature and are running extremely cool (surprisingly cool actually), their clock speeds are being artificially limited by Intel in order to avoid putting all cards on the table at this time. We saw a similar approach with the very first Penryn samples which were all locked at 2.66GHz. The Intel X58 chipset we used in our testing on the other hand got quite hot.


Nehalem no longer has a conventional FSB, its clock speed is derived from a multiplier of an external clock frequency - in this case 133MHz. Expect all Nehalem chips to come out in frequencies that are multiples of 133MHz.

Thankfully we don't want a thorough look at Nehalem today, we'll save that for the launch - what we do want is to whet our appetite. We want to know if Intel can pull it off a second time.

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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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