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:


Mmm

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
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  • Ben90 - Tuesday, September 08, 2009 - link

    Was reading it pretty casually thinking it was just a preview because i didnt think the NDA lifted yet.... then i saw a next page... looked at the tab and it has like 20 pages OMGOMGOMGOMG!!! ITS OUT LOL....Im gonna try really really hard to read the article before i go to the gaming performance though...prolly wont make it Reply
  • Lashek - Wednesday, September 09, 2009 - link

    you compare it to the Q6600 a lot in the text, but no comparison with an overclocked Q6600 is made in the benches...
    If you have figures of an overclocked Q6600, could you add them? all over the web these question are asked but business leaders who own these web sites dont want to challenge a overclocked core 2 duo,and quads,or is it politics?
    Reply
  • coldpower27 - Thursday, September 10, 2009 - link

    You will have to compare an overclocked I750 or i860 to the Q6600 as that would only be fair, no sense doing a stock vs overclocked comparison.

    It is well known you can equal todays stock performance by overclocking to some degree, but if your going to compare overclock then you need to overclock both processors.

    Q6600 will be destroyed by i750 and i860 if you compare perf/watt however.
    Reply
  • Joshaze - Wednesday, September 09, 2009 - link

    Anand,

    When testing World of Warcraft what processAffinityMask value where you using?

    The default value for this variable does not take advantage of all cores on the Core i7 processors.

    Here is the article discussing the CVAR: http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topi...">http://forums.worldofwarcraft.com/thread.html?topi...

    The value should be 255 for 8 cores and 15 for 4 cores.

    If not, any chance you could retest using the above values and report back on any changes?
    Reply
  • Googer - Wednesday, September 09, 2009 - link

    The lack of PS2 is a real deal killer for me, I have a beloved IBM Clicky Model M keyboard (1391401) and I will not give it up for anything. I know PS2-usb keyboard adapter exist but they just don't work very well.

    I am not alone, there are tens of thousands of vintage keyboard lovers out there and the IBM Model 1391401 is one of the more popular ones among keyboard aficionados.

    Kind of sad that a 20-30 year old keyboard still works as well as they day it was made, new cheaper keyboards are less acuurate, uncomfortable, very flimsy and are poorly made. You would be lucky to get 5-6 years out of 'some' of these newer $90+ keyboards.

    Save PS2, keep it alive. PS/2 has less lag than any USB keyboard I have tried. There are a lot of great keyboards still in use. There is no shortage of real estate on the back IO shields, so there should be no reason not to include a PS/2 port..
    Reply
  • MamiyaOtaru - Thursday, September 10, 2009 - link

    Seconding this. USB is incapable of providing n-key rollover for keyboards. PS2 can. Not everyone needs that, but I won't do without it. Reply
  • Zoomer - Wednesday, September 09, 2009 - link

    I saw at least one PS2 port on these motherboards. What are you talking about again? Yes, they seem to be shared with the PS2 port for mice, but mice work the same on USB anyway. Reply
  • Taft12 - Wednesday, September 09, 2009 - link

    This is probably the most off-topic post I've seen on this site. Fortunately for all of us, your rant is invalid and you never have to say anything about this ever again:

    http://www.syba.com/index.php?controller=Product&a...">http://www.syba.com/index.php?controller=Product&a...
    Reply
  • boogerlad - Tuesday, September 08, 2009 - link

    where't ta152h now? That idiot is finally done trolling. Reply
  • snakeoil - Wednesday, September 09, 2009 - link

    all the results of this review are biased because they were made with turbo enabled, that's at least 600 mhz overclocking.
    to be fair you must compare this results against a phenom 2 overclockded at least 600 mhz
    people is not stupid.
    Reply

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