The Evangelist

Worldwide Technology News

On November 17, 2008, Intel will release its new brand of processors dubbed "Core i7."

Core i7 will be the first wave of Intel's new Nehalem architecture chips to be produced. The initial line of processors, codenamed Bloomfield, includes three quad-core desktop chips. The 920 model at 2.66 GHz is priced at $284 while the 940 model at 2.93 GHz is priced at $562, both in price per 1000 units. The 965 extreme edition, on the other hand, is clocked at 3.2 GHz but costs $999. The extreme edition comes with an unlocked multiplier, which makes it easier for enthusiasts to overclock.

But there is more to Core i7 than just clock speeds. Intel has changed much with their new Nahelem architecture, and it's all for the better. The memory controller is now on the processor. The traditional Front Side Bus that Intel has been using for years while AMD used HyperTransport technology has been replaced with Intel's new Quickpath Interconntect (QPI). Memory is now three-channel, so groups of three memory DIMMs can now be used for optimal performance. The processors have a "Turbo Boost" capability which automatically overclocks the processor by 133 or 266 MHz when safe to give you an extra boost of power when you need it. Intel has also added hyper-threading to their new Core i7 chips, a feature which was dropped in Intel's Core 2 architecture. This allows each core to appear to the operating system as two processors. They use the new 45nm technology and contain 731 million transistors. To top it all off, they have a new power management system that can actually shut down cores that are not in use to save a good deal of power. With the current economic troubles, this will no doubt be welcomed by many.

There are some problems with Core i7, but they are generally non-issues. The new architecture means that only DDR3 memory is compatible - and it is more expensive. There has also been some debate over the fact that nore current motherboards made for the Core i7 support ECC memory. It is thought that this could cause scientific computing and number crunching done by the processors to be inaccurate with these motherboards. It will be interesting to see if distributed computing projects such as Folding@home will have to do something different in the case of machines with these motherboards.

Everything considered, Core i7 truly is a leap ahead. The performance of this chips generally exceeds that of Yorkfield Core 2 processors of the same clock speed by some margin. It is estimated that Core i7 chips can complete 20% more instructions per clock cycle than the Yorkfield chips as well.

Even if you aren't looking at a Core i7 machine, the release of these processors is bound to bring the prices down on older Core 2 chips for desktops, which is always a plus.

With Core 2, Intel had the lead over AMD (Advanced Micro Devices). With Core i7, it seems as if Intel will leave AMD in the dust. Intel has learned their lesson from remaining static and letting AMD gain superior performance with their Athlon 64 line of processors - they aren't going to sit idle again or just concentrate on making their chips look good because they have high clock speeds (see megahertz myth). I do think, however, that AMD could rival Intel if they take the right steps. They certainly aren't going to sit still, but more on that later.


Excellent post. I'm always interested in the latest processor technology, and you sum up all the salient points nicely.

Keep up the good work!

All The Best,



I have noticed that my posts on processors tend to get quite a lot of attention, to the point that I'm going to start making them a bigger focus.

Glad you enjoyed.

The Evangelist

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