Prices and clock speeds of the first processors built on Intel’s new Nehalem microarchitecture have now been published in several online reviews as the chip giant prepares to launch the first of these new chips later in November.
In a number of reviews published Nov. 3, including pieces in Tom’s Hardware and ExtremeTech, the first of these new Intel processors, called the Intel Core i7, will have clock speeds starting at 2.66GHz and prices that begin at about $300. (The prices are calculated in quantities of 1,000 units.)
Intel has already announced that the first of these Core i7 processors is scheduled for release later this month, which allows Intel to take advantage of the holiday shopping season. The first chips based on the Intel Nehalem architecture are designed for gaming desktops and for PC enthusiasts.
In a few weeks, Intel will release three Core i7 processors with clock speeds of 2.66GHz, 2.93GHz and 3.20GHz. The prices will range from $284 on the low end to $562 for a mid-range processors and $999 on the high end. Some of the reviews noted that since the Core i7 processors are built on new architecture, PCs will require new motherboards and users will likely have to upgrade the PC’s memory to support newer DDR3 (double data rate 3) memory.
For business buyers and the enterprise, the roll out of these three Intel Core i7 processors offers a window into the other types of processors Intel will offer later this year and into 2009. At its Developer Forum in August, Intel Senior Vice President Pat Gelsinger detailed a strategy that will allow the company to gradually bring new processors into the market during the course of the next 12 months.
After the Core i7 processors, Intel will offers Nehalem-based processors for workstations and single-socket server systems. Other chips for two-socket servers and high-performance computing will follow.
It has been two years since Intel offered new microarchitecture and the company’s engineers have made a number of improvements. The first, and most obvious, is the manufacturing process. The new Nehalem-based processors are built on 45-nanometer manufacturing as opposed to the older, 65-nm process. The new processors reviewed Monday have four processing cores and share 8MB of L3 cache.
One of the most significant improvements with Nehalem is the use of an integrated memory controller. The memory controller, which is the part of the CPU that communicates with the DDR memory chips, is now integrated into the processor die itself, which eliminates the traditional FSB (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.
In the reviews, the three Intel Core i7 processors have thermal envelopes of 130 watts each.
Advanced Micro Devices has manufactured chips with an integrated memory controller for a number of years.
Nehalem will allow Intel to create processors that can scale from two to eight cores.
Each core supports two instructional threads that will then allow the chips to perform several tasks simultaneously. Finally, Intel will also introduce a technology called QuickPath, a high-speed chip-to-chip interconnect technology that will allow the Nehalem family of processors to connect to another component or another chip on the motherboard.
While Nehalem is one of the more significant announcements Intel has made this year, the company is already focusing on 2009. At a conference in December, Intel will begin talking about its next generation of processors build on 32-nm manufacturing.