UPDATED: Intel officially launches the first of its processors based on its new architecture code-named Nehalem, and Gateway and Dell line up behind the chip maker with new high-end desktops. Intel releases three of its new Core i7 processors Nov. 17 at an event in San Francisco and will likely follow with more Nehalem-based processors in December and January.
It's official: Intel is releasing the first of its Core i7 processors today.
During an event in San Francisco
Nov. 17, Intel
will release the first three processors in its Core i7 family. The three
Core i7 processors are based on an updated microarchitecture code-named
Nehalem. The launch will allow Intel and its PC vendor partners to have new
systems on store shelves for the holiday shopping season.
To support the Intel Core i7 debut, Dell and Gateway are ready to launch several new high-end desktops
and gaming PCs that use the microprocessors. While most of these systems are
for enthusiasts and gamers, Dell's Studio XPS desktop is being positioned as a
PC for home offices and for those working in the content creation field.
The three new processors are the Intel Core i7-965 Extreme Edition (3.2GHz),
the Core i7-940 (2.93GHz) and the Core i7-920 (2.66GHz). All three chips are
built on Intel's 45-nanometer manufacturing process. Each processor has four processing
cores, with each core supporting two instructional threads, and all four cores
share 8MB of Level 3 cache. The prices range from $999 on the high end to $284
on the low end, with prices calculated in 1,000-unit shipments.
The Nehalem microarchitecture allowed Intel to change its overall chip
design and offer a number of power-saving features such as Turbo Boost, which
adjusts the clock speed of the individual cores depending on what applications
However, the most significant improvement is the integrated memory
controller, the part of the CPU that communicates with the DDR
(double data rate) memory chips, which eliminates the front-side bus. This type
of integration will allow for greater levels of performance without increasing
the clock speed of the processor, which should also keep the thermal envelope
the same as the previous generation.
Dean McCarron, an analyst at Mercury Research, said the Nehalem architecture
was perhaps the most significant change Intel has made to its chip design since
the Intel 386 chip was introduced in the mid-1980s.
"The 386 represented a shift from 16-bit computing to 32-bit computing,
and it had completely new architecture and new interfaces everywhere,"
McCarron said. "This is what Nehalem is. It is completely new architecture
and new interfaces everywhere. It's not breaking the x86 compatibility, but it
is a different product. By having the integrated memory controller, it gives
the chip a significant boost in performance, and we saw the same thing when AMD
[Advanced Micro Devices] made the transition from non-integrated to