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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  • mjrpes3 - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    Any chance we'll see some database/apache benchmarks based on Nehalem soon? Reply
  • fzkl - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    "Where Nehalem really succeeds however is in anything involving video encoding or 3D rendering"

    We have new CPU that does Video encoding and 3D Rendering really well while at the same time the GPU manufacturers are offloading these applications to the GPU.

    The CPU Vs GPU debate heats up more.
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    Reply
  • Griswold - Tuesday, November 4, 2008 - link

    Wheres the product that offloads encoding to GPUs - all of them, from both makers - as a publicly available product? I havent seen that yet. Of course, we havent seen Core i7 in the wild yet either, but I bet it will be many moons before there is that single encoding suite that is ready for primetime regardless of the card that is sitting in your machine. On the other hand, I can encode my stuff right now with my current Intel or AMD products and will just move them over to the upcoming products without having to think about it.

    Huge difference. The debate isnt really a debate yet, if you're doing more than just talking about it.
    Reply
  • haukionkannel - Monday, November 3, 2008 - link

    Well if both CPU and GPU are better for video encoding, the better! Even now the rendering takes forever.
    So there is not any problem if GPU helps allready good 3d render CPU. Everything that gives more speed is just bonus!
    Reply

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