Intel is on the verge of transitioning to 32nm. We'll see the first parts this year. What do you do with your 45nm fabs when you start moving volume away from them? Make really cheap quad-core Nehalems of course:

I'm talking $196. I'm talking faster than AMD's entire lineup. I'm talking about arguably the best processor of 2009. I'm talking about Lynnfield, and here's its backside:


Mmm

I spent much of the past year harping on AMD selling Nehalem-sized Phenom IIs for less than Intel sold Nehalems. With Lynnfield, Intel actually made Nehalem even bigger all while driving prices down. Like I said, what do you do when you're still making boatloads of money in a recession and are about to start emptying your 45nm fabs?

I should clear things up before we progress much further. Lynnfield is the codename for mainstream 45nm quad-core Nehalem, while Bloomfield refers to the first Nehalem launched at the end of 2008:

Processor Manufacturing Process Die Size Transistor Count Socket
Bloomfield 45nm 263 mm2 731M LGA-1366
Lynnfield 45nm 296 mm2 774M LGA-1156

Despite being cheaper, Lynnfield is larger than Bloomfield. The larger die is due to one major addition: an on-die PCIe controller.


Bloomfield, The First Nehalem, circa 2008


Lynnfield, Nehalem for All, circa 2009

The pink block to the right of the die is the PCIe controller, that's 16 PCIe 2.0 lanes coming right off the chip. Say hello to ultra low latency GPU communication. You'd think that Intel was about to enter the graphics market or something with a design like this.

Sacrifices were made to reduce CPU, socket and board complexity. Gone are the two QPI links that each provided 25.6GB/s of bandwidth to other CPUs or chips on the motherboard. We also lose one of the three 64-bit DDR3 memory channels, Lynnfield only has two like a normal processor (silly overachieving Bloomfield).


Intel's Bloomfield Platform (X58 + LGA-1366)

The sum is that Lynnfield is exclusively single-socket; there will be no LGA-1156 Skulltrail. While the dual-channel memory controller isn't really a limitation for quad-core parts, six and eight core designs may be better suited for LGA-1366.


Intel's Lynnfield Platform (P55 + LGA-1156)

The loss of QPI means that Lynnfield doesn't have a super fast connection to the rest of the system, but with an on-die PCIe controller it doesn't matter: the GPU is fed right off the CPU.

The Lineup

We get three Lynnfield CPUs today: the Core i7 870, Core i7 860 and the Core i5 750. Intel's branding folks told us that the naming would make sense one we saw the rest of the "Core" parts introduced; yeah that was pretty much a lie. At least there aren't any overlapping part numbers (e.g. Core i5 860 and Core i7 860).

The i7 in this case denotes four cores + Hyper Threading, the i5 means four cores but no Hyper Threading. The rules get more complicated as you bring notebooks into the fray but let's momentarily bask in marginal simplicity.

Processor Clock Speed Cores / Threads Maximum Single Core Turbo Frequency TDP Price
Intel Core i7-975 Extreme 3.33GHz 4 / 8 3.60GHz 130W $999
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
Intel Core i7 870 2.93GHz 4 / 8 3.60GHz 95W $562
Intel Core i7 860 2.80GHz 4 / 8 3.46GHz 95W $284
Intel Core i5 750 2.66GHz 4 / 4 3.20GHz 95W $196

 

Keeping Hyper Threading off of the Core i5 is purely done to limit performance. There aren't any yield reasons why HT couldn't be enabled.

Intel was very careful with both pricing and performance of its Lynnfield processors. I'm going to go ahead and say it right now, there's no need for any LGA-1366 processors slower than a Core i7 965:

This is only one benchmark, but it's representative of what you're about to see. The Core i7 870 (LGA-1156) is as fast, if not faster, than every single LGA-1366 processor except for the ones that cost $999. Its pricing is competitive as well:

For $196 you're getting a processor that's faster than the Core i7 920. I'm not taking into account motherboard prices either, which are anywhere from $50 - $100 cheaper for LGA-1156 boards. I don't believe LGA-1366 is dead, but there's absolutely no reason to buy anything slower than a 965 if you're going that route.

The LGA-1156 Socket
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  • Gary Key - Wednesday, September 09, 2009 - link

    Actually the manufacturers wanted Clarkdale desperately for the school/holiday shopping seasons. It is delayed as they are still debugging the platform, unofficially I think that means the drivers are not ready. ;) Believe me, if we had a stable Clarkdale platform worthy of a preview, you would have read about it already. Reply
  • justme2009 - Wednesday, September 09, 2009 - link

    You are incorrect sir. The manufacturers were complaining to Intel that they couldn't get rid of the current stock before Intel released mobile Nehalem, so Intel caved.

    http://techreport.com/discussions.x/16152">http://techreport.com/discussions.x/16152

    http://www.techspot.com/news/33065-notebook-vendor...">http://www.techspot.com/news/33065-note...-pushing...

    http://www.brighthub.com/computing/hardware/articl...">http://www.brighthub.com/computing/hardware/articl...

    http://gizmodo.com/5123632/notebook-makers-want-in...">http://gizmodo.com/5123632/notebook-mak...o-delay-...

    Needless to say, I'm waiting for mobile Nehalem (clarkdale/arrendale). With a 32nm manufacturing process, plus starting in 2010, Intel will begin to move both the northbridge and southbridge chips onto the processor die. The move should complete some time around 2011 as far as I can tell.
    It will be far better than what we have today, and I'm really ticked off at the manufacturers for holding back progress because of their profit margin.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, September 09, 2009 - link

    I spoke directly with the manufacturers, not unnamed sources. The story is quite different than the rumors that were posted. I will leave it at that until we product for review. Reply
  • justme2009 - Wednesday, September 09, 2009 - link

    Of course the manufacturers wouldn't fess up to it. It's bad business, and it makes them look bad. It already angered a great many people. I don't think they are rumors at all. Reply
  • justme2009 - Wednesday, September 09, 2009 - link

    Personally I'm holding off on buying a new system until the northbridge/southbridge migration to the processor die is complete, ~2 years from now. That will definitely be the time to buy a new system. Reply
  • ClagMaster - Tuesday, September 08, 2009 - link

    “These things are fast and smart with power. Just wait until Nehalem goes below 65W...”

    I surely will Mr Shimpi with this exceptional processor. I am going to wait until the summer of 2010 when prices are the lowest, rebates are the sweetest, before I buy my i7 860. By that time, hopefully, there would be 65W versions available on improved stepping. It’s worth the wait.

    I would wager the on-chip PCIe controller could use some additional optimization which would result in lower power draw for a given frequency.

    Intel sure delivered the goods with Lynnfield.
    Reply
  • cosminliteanu - Tuesday, September 08, 2009 - link

    Well done Anandtech for this article... :) Reply
  • ereavis - Tuesday, September 08, 2009 - link

    great article. Good replies to all the bashing, most seem to have misread.

    Now, we want to see results in AnandTech Bench!
    Reply
  • MODEL3 - Tuesday, September 08, 2009 - link

    Wow, the i5 750 is even better than what i was expecting...

    For the vast, vast majority of the consumers, (not enthusiasts, overclocking guys, etc...) with this processor Intel effectively erased the above 200$ CPU market...

    I hope this move to have the effect to kill their ASP also... (except AMDs...) (not that this will hurt Intel much with so many cash, but it is better than nothing...)


    I see that the structure/composition in this review and in many others tech sites reviews is very good, maybe this time Intel helped more in relation with the past regarding info / photos / diagrams / review guide etc...


    One question that i have (out of the conspiracy book again...) is,
    if the integration of the PCI-Express controller in the CPU die on the mainstream LGA-1156 platform will be a permanent strategy from now on...
    and if the recent delay for the PCI-Express standard 3.0 has a connection with the timing of the launch of mainstream LGA-1156 based CPUs with PCI-Express 3.0 controller integrated...

    Sure, they can launch future LGA-1156 motherboard chipsets with PCI-Express 3.0 controller, but doesn't this contradict the integration strategy that Intel just started with the new processors?
    Reply
  • MODEL3 - Tuesday, September 08, 2009 - link

    I can't edit...
    I just want to clarify that the PCI-Express 3.0 question is for LOL reasons, not taken serious...

    Reply

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