Clarksfield Platform

As mentioned, Clarksfield bears a striking resemblance to Lynnfield. The core architecture is the same, and the chipset is essentially the same as well - it's just a mobile version of the P55 chipset, the PM55. The processor has an integrated memory controller and PCI-E x16 connection, while the PM55 chipset handles the rest.

One of the major benefits of Nehalem on the desktop is that it is extremely efficient when you're not taxing the CPU. This comes courtesy of Intel's Power Gate transistors, and as you would expect it's going to prove extremely useful on laptops. Now we can finally get high-performance laptop CPUs that don't kill battery life. If you are only doing minor document editing, your quad-core processor can just shut down three of the cores to conserve power.

We have noticed in testing that current quad-core CPUs require noticeably more power than dual-core parts, resulting in relatively poor battery life on any quad-core notebook. Clarksfield should help to address that issue, although the CPU can still consume quite a bit of power under full load. That's going to make things a little difficult, since we now have a CPU that can use very little power when idle but it can suck down as much - or more - power than a Core 2 Quad QX9300 at full throttle. That means Clarksfield is going to be destined more for desktop replacements as opposed to thin and light laptops; we'll need the dual-core Arrandale (the mobile equivalent of Clarkdale) before we see 35 W and 25 W mobile parts. (What we really want to see is Power Gate transistors used on GPUs…. Ed: Something that will be coming in the next couple of years)

One of the major innovations with Lynnfield is the aggressive Turbo modes, which allow you to get a quad-core processor that also works as an extremely fast dual-core or single-core CPU. The desktop i7-870 offers relatively impressive Turbo modes, allowing the CPU to scale from 2.93 GHz up to 3.6 GHz depending on what sort of load it's currently running. Put another way, the i7-870 can run at up to five bins above its rated clock speed. The mobile i7-920XM has a much lower base clock speed of just 2.0 GHz, but it has even more aggressive Turbo modes, allowing a single-core to scale up to 3.2 GHz - a boost of nine bins! The maximum dual-core boost is also much higher than on Lynnfield, allowing the i7-920XM to run at eight bins above stock with two active cores. Only with three or four active cores are the Turbo modes limited to a two-bin increase.

Index Clarksfield Summary


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  • Hrel - Thursday, October 22, 2009 - link

    I consider any dedicated card with at least 16SP's and at least 512MB of dedicated memory to be a gaming laptop; 16 SP's IS the ABSOLUTE minumum, but that should be enough to run everything ecxept maybe crysis (Which I really hate anyway) at 720p or higher with playable frame rates. Who cares about eye candy? As long as the game runs smoothly. Desktops are for eye candy, laptops and consoles are just for gaming. Reply
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  • MonicaS - Wednesday, September 30, 2009 - link

    Man, as someone who hasn't used a desktop as personal computer for the last 4 years, the move to laptop was a very difficult one. You have the convenience but lack the performance. Now couple this processor with two raid ssd's and 8 gigs of ram in a 64bit Windows 7 laptop and you finally have a beast of a machine in your probably burning lap.

    I'd love to get that setup and finally not feel as though I'm loosing out to a desktop in anyway. The only true limitation is Crysis, but seriously that game sucked anyway!

    Can't wait!

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  • AnnonymousCoward - Friday, September 25, 2009 - link

    Heh, "Gamers Are Going Mobile". My video card is the size of some laptops. And I'm not playin on no 15" screen. Reply
  • FXi - Thursday, September 24, 2009 - link

    I have to say the mobility right now is more of a draw than a higher level of eye candy. Now mind you, I have both laptop and desktop so if I really crave eye candy, I can go to the desktop room and game.

    But with two little ones, I find that my 'gaming time' is often measured in 20 min spans here and there, and that being able to surf or get some work done wherever the kids happen to be is a benefit that I very much enjoy. So I can run Witcher on my old 7950M, windowed @ 1620 and have the settings lower and be "ok" with that.

    Mind you I do crave a bit more oomph, a more modern machine, but I can bide my time. The mobility is very nice, and I don't LAN (no time!). Having SLI or a higher end mobile chip simply means the laptop is "acceptable" for a longer period of it's life.

    I won't argue the bang for the buck. Mobile gaming is pricey and not cost effective. But the mobility is nice, the space taken up by a machine I can throw in the closet is also nice. And within some limits, lower res or lower eye candy is acceptable as payment for that mobility.

    Now I just need USB 3 (USB changes only happen every 10 years or so) and then I might consider upgrading.
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, September 24, 2009 - link

    When checking my laptop for Ubuntu vs Xp battery life, I accidentally ran my first XP test with my standard undervolt on, didn't seem to impact battery life any. Reply
  • ambientmf - Thursday, September 24, 2009 - link

    Am i the only one who thinks these chips are ridiculously overpriced? I would never drop more than $350 on a CPU even in a desktop, it just doesn't seem economical for a $1K laptop processor. especially if it's only running at a 2.0GHz base.
    The cheaper options seem really underwhelming and like others have said, the thermal output of these chips just doesn't make sense for a laptop.
  • cjb110 - Thursday, September 24, 2009 - link

    The big problem with gaming laptop's is that they aren't balanced. The display is always at higher res than the cpu/gpu can drive.

    I'd get a gaming laptop if it can drive all current gen games at max settings at the native res of the panel it comes with. Even if that res is <1080p.

    If it can't do that, then I've spent a lot of money on something that's already behind the desktop I can get for cheaper.
  • Mugur - Thursday, September 24, 2009 - link

    ... if there is one? I mean that that 1.6 Ghz part looks very nice: quad-core with HT and turbo.

    I think someone could make a decent notebook, not a desktop replacement out of a 720QM.
  • FXi - Thursday, September 24, 2009 - link

    Shouldn't the Quad core mobiles be 32nm and the Dual cores 45nm? I know that's not the case but what was Intel thinking? It doesn't even look like there's a refresh of the Quad's to 32nm in the Spring.

    Crazy, cuz they look like good chips with a shrink.

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