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
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  • Hyperion1400 - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    *Presses imaginary edit button*

    "Don't forget, Istanbul is heading..."
    Reply
  • MadMan007 - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    Awesome preview, too bad about HT.

    I think there's an error with the labelling for the first pass x264 encoding test on pg 7.
    Reply
  • dwade123 - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    i5 is perfect for ITX motherboard compared to i7. Can't wait!!! Reply
  • nubie - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    +1 they need to get an ITX motherboard for these immediately, if not sooner!

    One chip motherboard with integrated PCI-e x16 is perfect for ITX gaming system, should drive the cost of them way way down :)

    Dual x8 PCI-e 2.0 is fine for Crossfire or SLi (not that I would ever plan to run them)

    Is there any chance of an nVidia 9800/GTS250 integrated ITX motherboard? I would just about die if you could get one of those for around $200 ;)
    Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    Absolutely! Can you imagine all that horsepower in such a small FF? Hopefully Zotac makes another mini-ITX with a x16 slot on it. Reply
  • Depeche - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    By the time I got the i7 the i5 comes out and when I finally get the i5 some other series comes out. I can't keep up :)

    Get these CPUs in the Bench Beta :P
    Reply
  • A5 - Friday, May 29, 2009 - link

    This kind of thing (and the motherboard round-ups that used to be here) were the reasons I came to AT. If this pans out, I'm definitely building a Lynnfield system to replace my aging Socket-939 rig. Reply
  • philosofool - Monday, August 03, 2009 - link

    As a bonus, if you buy into LGA 1156 now, you will probably be able to get a considerable upgrade in 2 years just by replacing the CPU. The LGA 1156 socket should last awhile, at least as long as LGA 775, but maybe longer, because the memory controller was the big reason for a new socket. Reply
  • nuudles - Monday, June 01, 2009 - link

    I agree, great article!

    I also have only an an old s939 rig (opteron 150 - so i am still in the single-core world), and I also suspect this is the one I have been waiting for:)

    I initially thought I would wait a bit longer till the 32nm parts come out (damn Intel for their tick-tock), but since the first 32nm parts will be more mainstream (2C/4T) where the Lynnfields are high-end mainstream (or whatever its called) I think the 2.8 Lynnfield would suit me nicely for the next 3-4 years.

    Reply
  • faxon - Monday, June 01, 2009 - link

    yea i would wait man. i upgraded from my 939 rig to an e5200 and now i have a Q9650 @ 4GHz @ 1.296vcore. given the performance benchmarks, even a 3.7ghz lynnfield will probably outperform my 4GHZ quad in games Reply

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