Note: This article was not condoned or supported in any way by Intel. We obtained all pre-release hardware on our own. Enjoy.

The Recap

Yeech, ok, this is more complicated than it should be. Last year Intel launched its brand new Nehalem architecture, the first processor was codenamed Bloomfield and sold as the Core i7.


Nehalem - Bloomfield, aka Core i7

The Core i7 has four cores (with Hyper Threading, so that’s 8 threads), an 8MB L3 cache and a triple-channel DDR3 memory controller. Of course there’s a lot of other special sauce that makes the i7 the beast that it is; if you want more details check out my original Nehalem architecture article.

Since its launch, i7 has only been available in three flavors: the 920, 940 and 965. The most affordable one, the i7-920, costs $284 in 1Ku quantities.

Processor Clock Speed Cores / Threads Maximum Single Core Turbo Frequency TDP Price
Intel Core i7-965 Extreme 3.20GHz 4 / 8 3.46GHz 130W $999
Intel Core i7-940 2.93GHz 4 / 8 3.20GHz 130W $562
Intel Core i7-920 2.66GHz 4 / 8 2.93GHz 130W $284

 

The Core i7 fits into Intel’s new LGA-1366 socket and is mated with Intel’s X58 chipset:

With the memory controller on-die, the X58 chipset acts like a PCIe switch than anything else; all other I/O (e.g. USB, SATA, Ethernet, etc...) go through the ICH10 which is connected to the X58 hub.

Despite being a relatively simple piece of silicon, Intel prices the X58 chipset as a premium product. The X58 chipset is more expensive than any other desktop Intel chipset on the market, that includes P45 and X48. In turn, X58 motherboards are pricey.

At launch X58 motherboards sold for well above $200 and it took a while for us to see boards finally drop down to and below that $200 price point. Only recently have we found a motherboard that’s even somewhat affordable with MSI’s X58M priced at $169.

With a $200 motherboard and a $284 CPU, the i7 was priced out of competing with even AMD’s highest end Phenom II. While the Phenom II X4 955 costs $245, you can easily pair it with a $100 motherboard.

Rather than drive LGA-1366 pricing down, Intel had another plan - to introduce a more mainstream platform for Nehalem.

Making Nehalem Affordable: LGA-1156
POST A COMMENT

95 Comments

View All Comments

  • ssj4Gogeta - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    There's always the dual-core Nehalem Clarkdale for the mainstream market. And I think they'll launch lower clock Lynnfields too, like Anand said.

    I think Intel did a good job by separating its high-end processors from the mainstream ones and launching them as a different series. So now instead of having one $1200 extreme part, we have 3 high-end parts, with the lowest priced one a very affordable option for geeks who are on a budget.
    Reply
  • ssj4Gogeta - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    Congratulations Intel, you've created a beast.

    What is AMD going to do now? I don't think they have any new cores ready for launch this year. If Lynnfield offers the same performance as i7 920 for Phenom II prices, AMD will either have to bump up their clock speeds ridiculously, or lower their prices yet again. Things aren't looking good for AMD. Lynnfield turns out to be better than I expected.


    And I HATE Intel and their tick-tock. Actually I can't decided whether to hate or like it. It's good that they're advancing our planet's technology at a really fast pace so we'll be prepared when aliens attack. But which damn processor do I buy??? They launch a new series every year, and a new stepping every few months. Which one to buy? WHEN to buy??? My parents won't buy me processors every 6 months!
    Reply
  • MadMan007 - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    You could always do what people did back in the day - upgrade when your current hardware no longer does what you need it to do. I know, crazy right!? Reply
  • Griswold - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    Its only a crazy concept if daddy is paying for those upgrades all the time - you and the rest of us know its the right thing to do. :] Reply
  • Jaramin - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    Looking at AMD's roadmap, I fear this is going to hurt a lot :( If the pricing is good, it could confine AMD into the lower mainstream segment. Reply
  • Hyperion1400 - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    That remains to be seen. Don't Istanbul heading for market at around the same time as Core-i5. There has been little information leaked about Istanbul and no performance numbers have come to light. So, as of now, it is impossible to predict how competitive AMD's offerings will be. Not to mention we have Magny Cours to look forward too in 1H 2010. Reply
  • ssj4Gogeta - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    But Istanbul is just a 6-core Opteron. In other words, a server chip. Reply
  • Hyperion1400 - Saturday, May 30, 2009 - link

    As was Barcelona and Shanghai. But, that didn't seem to stop them from releasing them on the main stream market. Reply
  • Spoelie - Saturday, May 30, 2009 - link

    but costs would be too prohibitive
    PhII is already similar in die size as bloomfield, and is forced to be priced lower for competitive reasons.
    You think AMD won't be hurting if it sells an even larger die to compete with a smaller-than-bloomfield die, in a market where having more than 6 cores is questionable value at best?

    No, only thing amd can do is crank up clock speeds, try to get 3.4 and 3.6ghz models out the door
    Reply
  • Spoelie - Saturday, May 30, 2009 - link

    Oh and up the uncore clock on them as well, preferably 2.4ghz, but might make them look worse in power consumption comparisons Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now