The Chips

With a new microarchitecture comes a new naming system and while it makes sense for Intel to ditch the Duo/Quad suffixes that's about the only sensible thing that we get with Nehalem's marketing. The new name has already been announced, Nehalem is officially known as the Intel Core i7 processor. Model numbers are back of course and the three chips that Intel is announcing today are the 965, 940 and 920. The specs break down like this:

Processor Clock Speed QPI Speed (GT/sec) L3 Cache Memory Speed Support TDP Unlocked? Price
Intel Core i7-965 Extreme Edition 3.20GHz 6.4 8MB DDR3-1066 130W Yes $999
Intel Core i7-940 2.93GHz 4.8 8MB DDR3-1066 130W No $562
Intel Core i7-920 2.66GHz 4.8 8MB DDR3-1066 130W No $284

 

Obviously there's no changing Intel's naming system now, but I'd just like to voice my disapproval with regards to the naming system. It just doesn't sound very good.

These chips aren't launching today, Intel is simply letting us talk about them today. You can expect an official launch with availability by the end of the month.

The Socket

By moving the memory controller on-die Intel dramatically increased the pincount of its processor. While AMD's Phenom featured a 940-pin pinout, Intel's previous Core 2 processors only had 775 contact pads on their underside. With three 64-bit DDR3 channels however, Intel's Core i7's ballooned to 1366 pads making the chip and socket both physically larger:

The downside to integrating a memory controller is that if there are any changes in memory technology or in the number of memory channels, you need a new socket. Sometime in 2009 Intel will introduce a cheaper Nehalem derivative with only a 2-channel memory controller, most likely to compete in the < $200 CPU price points. These CPUs will use a LGA-1156 socket, but future 8-core versions of Nehalem will use LGA-1366 like the CPUs we're reviewing here today.

The larger socket also requires a bigger heatsink, here's a look at the new Intel reference cooler:


From left to right: 45nm Core 2 Duo cooler, 45nm Core 2 Quad cooler, 45nm Core i7 Cooler

Multiple Clock Domains and My Concern Nehalem's Weakness: Cache
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  • Spectator - Monday, November 03, 2008 - link

    that sht is totally logical.

    And Im proper impressed. I would do that.

    you can re-process your entire stock at whim to satisfy the current market. that sht deserves some praise, even more so when die shrinks happen. Its an apparently seemless transition. Unless world works it out and learns how to mod existing chips?

    Chukkle. but hey im drunk; and I dont care. I just thought that would be a logical step. Im still waiting for cheap SSD's :P

    Spectator.
    Reply
  • tential - Monday, November 03, 2008 - link

    We already knew nehalem wasn't going to be that much of a game changer. The blog posts you guys had up weeks ago said that because of the cache sizes and stuff not to expect huge gains in performance of games if any. However because of hyperthreading I think there also needs to be some tests to see how multi tasking goes. No doubt those gains will be huge. Virus scanning while playing games and other things should have extremely nice benefits you would think. Those tests would be most interesting although when I buy my PC nehalem will be mainstream. Reply
  • npp - Monday, November 03, 2008 - link

    I'm very curious to see some scientific results from the new CPUs, MATLAB and Mathematica benchmarks, and maybe some more. It's interesting to see if Core i7 can deliver something on these fronts, too. Reply
  • pervisanathema - Monday, November 03, 2008 - link

    I was afraid Nehalem was going to be a game changer. My wallet is grateful that its overall performance gains do not even come close to justifying dumping my entire platform. My x3350 @ 3.6GHz will be just fine for quite some time yet. :)

    Additionally, its relatively high price means that AMD can still be competitive in the budget to low mid range market which is good for my wallet as well. Intel needs competition.
    Reply
  • iwodo - Monday, November 03, 2008 - link

    Since there are virtually no performance lost when using Dual Channel. Hopefully we will see some high performance DDR3 with low Latency next year?
    And which means apart from having half the core, Desktop version doesn't look so bad.

    And since you state the Socket 1366 will be able to sit a Eight Core inside, i expect the 11xx socket will be able to suit a Quad Core as well?

    So why we dont just have 13xx Socket to fit it all? Is the cost really that high?
    Reply
  • QChronoD - Monday, November 03, 2008 - link

    How long are they going to utilize this new socket??
    $284 for the i7-920 isn't bad, but will it be worth the extra to buy a top end board that will appreciate a CPU upgrade 1-2 years later? Or is this going to be useless once Intel Ticks in '10?
    Reply
  • steveyballme - Monday, November 03, 2008 - link

    We worked side by side with Intel to be sure that Vista was optimised for running on this thing!

    http://fakesteveballmer.blogspot.com">http://fakesteveballmer.blogspot.com
    Reply
  • Strid - Monday, November 03, 2008 - link

    Great article. I enjoyed reading it. One thing I stumbled upon though.

    "The PS/2 keyboard port is a nod to the overclocking crowd as is the clear CMOS switch."

    What makes a PS/2 port good for overclockers? I see the use for the clear CMOS switch, but ...
    Reply
  • 3DoubleD - Monday, November 03, 2008 - link

    In my experience USB keyboards do not consistently allow input during the POST screen. If you are overclocking and want to enter the BIOS or cancel an overclock you need a keyboard that works immediately once the POST screen appears. I've been caught with only a USB keyboard and I got stuck with a bad overclock and had to reset the CMOS to gain control back because I couldn't cancel the overclock. Reply
  • Clauzii - Monday, November 03, 2008 - link

    I thought the "USB Legacy support" mode was for exactly that? So legacy mode is for when the PC are booted in DOS, but not during pre? Reply

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