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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  • Jingato - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    If the 920 can easily be overclocked to 3.8Ghz on air, what intensive is there to purchase the 965 for more that triple the price? Reply
  • TantrumusMaximus - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    I don't understand why the tests were on such low resolutions... most gamers are running higher res than 1280x1024 etc etc....

    What gives?
    Reply
  • daniyarm - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    Because if they ran gaming benchmarks at higher res, the difference in FPS would be hardly visible and you wouldn't go out and buy a new CPU.
    If they are going to show differences between Intel and AMD CPUs, show Nehalem at 3.2 GHz vs 9950 OC to 3.2 GHz so we can see clock for clock differences in performance and power.
    Reply
  • npp - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    9950 consumes about 30W more at idle than the 965XE, and 30W less under load. I guess that OC'ing it to 3,2Ghz will need more than 30W... Given that the 965 can process 4 more threads, I think the result should be more or less clear. Reply
  • tim851 - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    Higher resolutions stress the GPU more and it will become a bottleneck. Since the article was focussing on CPU power and not GPU power they were lowering the resolution enough to effectively take the GPU out of the picture. Reply
  • Caveman - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    It would be nice to see these CPU reviews use relevant "gaming" benchmarks. It would be good to see the results with something like MS flight simulator FSX or DCS Black Shark, etc... The flight simulators these days are BOTH graphically and calculation intensive, but really stress the CPU. Reply
  • AssBall - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    No, they don't, actually. Reply
  • philosofool - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    It would have been nice to see a proper comparison of power consumption. Given all of Intel's boast about being able to shut off cores to save power, I'd like to see some figures about exact savings. Reply
  • nowayout99 - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    Ditto, I was wondering about power too. Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    Soon, soon my friend :)

    -A
    Reply

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