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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  • Th3Eagle - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    I wonder how close you came to those temperatures while overclocking these processors.

    The 920 to 3.6/3.8 is a nice overclock but I wonder what you mean by proper cooling and how close you came to crossing the 80C "boundary"?
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    "The 920 to 3.6/3.8 is a nice overclock but I wonder what you mean by proper cooling and how close you came to crossing the 80C "boundary"?"

    It was actually quite easy to do with the retail cooler, in fact in our multi-task test playing back a BD title while encoding a BD title, the core temps hit 98C. Cinebench multi-core test and OCCT both had the core temps hit 100C at various points. Our tests were in a closed case loaded out with a couple of HD4870 cards, two optical drives, three hard drives, and two case fans.

    Proper cooling (something we will cover shortly) consisted of the Thermalright Xtreme120, Vigor Monsoon II, and Cooler Master V8 along with the Freezone Elite. We were able to keep temps under 70C with a full load on air and around 45C with the Freezone unit.
    Reply
  • Th3Eagle - Tuesday, November 4, 2008 - link

    Wow, thats interesting. Can't wait to see the new article. Always nice to see an article about coolers.

    Thanks for the reply.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    Gary did the i7-920 tests so I'll let him chime in there, we're also working on an overclocking guide that should help address some of these concerns.

    -A
    Reply
  • whatthehey - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    Tom's? You might as well reference HardOCP....

    Okay, THG sometimes gets things right, but I've seen far too many "expose" articles where they talk about the end of the world to take them seriously. Ever since the i820 chipset fiasco, they seem to think everything is a big deal that needs a whistle blower.

    Anandtech got 3.8GHz with an i7-920, and I would assume due diligence in performance testing (i.e. it's not just POSTing, but actually running benchmarks and showing a performance improvement). I'm still running an overclocked Q6600, though, and the 3.6GHz I've hit is really far more than I need most of the time. I should probalby run at 3.0GHz and shave 50-100W from my power use instead. But it's winter now, and with snow outside it's nice to have a little space heater by my feet!
    Reply
  • The0ne - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    TomHardware and Anandtech were the one websites I visited 13 years ago during my college years. Tom's has since been pushed far down the list of "to visit sites" mainly due to their poor articles and their ad littered, poorly designed website. If you have any type of no-script enable there's quite a bit to enable to have the website working. The video commentary is a joke as they're not professionals to get the job done professionally...visually anyhow.

    Anandtech has stayed true to it's root and although I find some articles a bit confusing I don't mind them at all. Example of this are camera reviews :)
    Reply
  • GaryJohnson - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    Geez, calling a core 2 a space heater. How soon we forget prescott... Reply
  • JarredWalton - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    I think overclocked Core 2 Quad is still very capable of rating as a space heater. The chips can easily use upwards of 150W when overclocked, which if memory serves is far more than any of the Prescott chips did. After all, we didn't see 1000W PSUs back in the Prescott era, and in fact I had a 350W PSU running a Pentium D 920 at 3.4 GHz without any trouble. :-) Reply
  • Griswold - Tuesday, November 4, 2008 - link

    Funny comparison. If it was just for the space heater arguments sake (well, 150W is by far not enough to qualify as a real space heater to be honest), I could follow you but saying the 150W of a 4 core, more-IPC-than-any-P4-can-ever-dream-of, processor should or could be compared to the wattage of the infamous thermonuclear furnace AKA prescott, is a bit of a long stretch, dont you think? :p Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    Intel can call it supercalifragilisticexpialidocious until they're blue in the face, but take it from a local, it's Neh-Hay-Lem. Just see how it's pronounced in this news segment:

    http://www.katu.com/outdoors/3902731.html?video=YH...">http://www.katu.com/outdoors/3902731.html?video=YH...
    Reply

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