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:


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


View All Comments

  • maddoctor - Tuesday, September 8, 2009 - link

    Yeah, I'm agree. I think AMD will be no more as a company next year. I hope it will be happen. I think it is better you throw your AMD rubbish products into the trash. Because, I don't see any valuable of it. Reply
  • Eeqmcsq - Tuesday, September 8, 2009 - link

    Well, I hope that it does NOT happen, because we NEED competition to keep Intel honest. Secondly, I would not go as far as calling AMD stuff rubbish. They're good if they fit one's needs at the right price, but they are definitely getting pushed further down the totem pole. Reply
  • JonnyDough - Tuesday, September 8, 2009 - link

    KEEP them honest? Where have you been? Reply
  • bupkus - Tuesday, September 8, 2009 - link

    A Core i5 750 with HT would not only defeat the purpose of most of the i7s, but it would also widen the performance gap with AMD. Intel doesn't need to maintain a huge performance advantage, just one that's good enough. Reply
  • maddoctor - Tuesday, September 8, 2009 - link

    I don't believe Intel will increasing its products because AMD does not have any competitive products. Reply
  • klatscho - Tuesday, September 8, 2009 - link

    actually, they do - if you would care to have a look at price/performance, especially considering that amd has already quietly thinned out its portfolio to make room for price improvements in order to stay in the game.
  • maddoctor - Tuesday, September 8, 2009 - link

    Intel doesn't need to be honest. I hope Intel will lifts AMD licensee as AMD has been breached the Intel - AMD CLA. I believe Intel will always be innovating and makes more cheaper and performance wise products. AMD will be no more and you will not need to miss it, AMD had been doing its duty to made Intel more stronger and competitive. Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Tuesday, September 8, 2009 - link

    You are a fool if you think AMD is no longer needed. The only reason these Lynnfield chips start at just $196 is because AMD is still here and were selling competitive chips at around that price point. No AMD means newer better chips are introduced at high price points and stay there for a long time, just look at Bloomfield's prices to see what happens when AMD offers no competition. The $284 i7 920 is for a slightly higher performing chip than any Phenom and is priced accordingly, but you have to pay $562 and then $999 for performance where there is truly no competition.

    No AMD would mean these Lynnfields starting at $284 if you're lucky (that's for something like the i5 750) with the HT enabled ones at the $562 price point, and the only chips you'd find for under $200 would be old Core 2 Duos and Quads. Thankfully AMD are here which is why new chips are introduced at competitive prices. No competition (from AMD) means no competitive prices, so if AMD go bust today, the next generation of Intel chips will start expensive, and stay expensive until they are replaced with the model after it, which won't be for a long time when nobody else can offer anything like their current product. I guess you don't remember the days of the original Pentium in the mid 90's.
  • ClagMaster - Tuesday, September 8, 2009 - link

    I agree. We need AMD and it's foolish to assert otherwise.

    AMD has been very good to us over the last 10 years. If it was not for AMD, Intel would have a monopoly and we would have not have Lynnfield or Bloomfield today. Intel created Lynnfield because they wanted to be more competitive with AMD in the mainstream market. Bloomfield/X58 was simply too expensive for mainstream and AMD's Phenon II was a better value.

    I am discouraged that people have so easily forgotten AMD's past leadership such as the efficient instruction schedulers, first on-chip memory controller,the first single-die dual and quad core chips to market, the first consumer 64-bit processors, the x86-64 architecture extension that Intel followed, and the K8 architecture that kicked Intel Netburst architecture's butt black and blue.

    That's why Intel was motivated to drop Netburst and introduce the Core 2 Duo/P965 in 1996. Then adopt the aggressive tick-tock strategy ever since that has given us the 45nm Lynnfield today. Lynnfield has these AMD inspired innovations, and Intel has built upon these innovations with the on-die PCIe controller.

    I have a lot of respect for AMD. Don't ever accuse AMD of not being innovative. AMD does not suffer from lack of technological innovation. They have demonstrated plenty of innovation. AMD suffers from lack of capital investment that allows acceleration of technological development and manufacturing infrastructure.
  • strikeback03 - Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - link

    You can't really say Lynnfield is a response to PhenomII when it was on the Intel roadmap before they knew how PhenomII would perform or be priced. It is simply the next progression in their architecture. So you might be able to argue that Intel wouldn't have rolled out the Nehalem architecture as quickly without AMD, but you can't really say any one family is a response to another in that short a timescale. Reply

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