Note: This article was not condoned or supported in any way by Intel. We obtained all pre-release hardware on our own. Enjoy.

The Recap

Yeech, ok, this is more complicated than it should be. Last year Intel launched its brand new Nehalem architecture, the first processor was codenamed Bloomfield and sold as the Core i7.


Nehalem - Bloomfield, aka Core i7

The Core i7 has four cores (with Hyper Threading, so that’s 8 threads), an 8MB L3 cache and a triple-channel DDR3 memory controller. Of course there’s a lot of other special sauce that makes the i7 the beast that it is; if you want more details check out my original Nehalem architecture article.

Since its launch, i7 has only been available in three flavors: the 920, 940 and 965. The most affordable one, the i7-920, costs $284 in 1Ku quantities.

Processor Clock Speed Cores / Threads Maximum Single Core Turbo Frequency TDP Price
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

 

The Core i7 fits into Intel’s new LGA-1366 socket and is mated with Intel’s X58 chipset:

With the memory controller on-die, the X58 chipset acts like a PCIe switch than anything else; all other I/O (e.g. USB, SATA, Ethernet, etc...) go through the ICH10 which is connected to the X58 hub.

Despite being a relatively simple piece of silicon, Intel prices the X58 chipset as a premium product. The X58 chipset is more expensive than any other desktop Intel chipset on the market, that includes P45 and X48. In turn, X58 motherboards are pricey.

At launch X58 motherboards sold for well above $200 and it took a while for us to see boards finally drop down to and below that $200 price point. Only recently have we found a motherboard that’s even somewhat affordable with MSI’s X58M priced at $169.

With a $200 motherboard and a $284 CPU, the i7 was priced out of competing with even AMD’s highest end Phenom II. While the Phenom II X4 955 costs $245, you can easily pair it with a $100 motherboard.

Rather than drive LGA-1366 pricing down, Intel had another plan - to introduce a more mainstream platform for Nehalem.

Making Nehalem Affordable: LGA-1156
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  • fpaat - Tuesday, August 04, 2009 - link

    Cheap as*es who keep buying these lower spec broken underclocked BS parts contribute to the decline of PC gaming.

    There is exactly zero reasons to release so many different chips, except for crap manufacturing.

    Buy an i7, be done. i5 = celeron = piss off Intel. ATI and NVIDIA can piss off as well for release 10 different versions of video cards per generation.
    Reply
  • fpaat - Tuesday, August 04, 2009 - link

    I LoL at people who still buy the "celeron" equivalent of computer parts.

    It's fine if your a teenager on a budget, but if you're an adult still buying gimp'd parts because you can't afford proper components, well, fail.
    Reply
  • grimpr - Thursday, July 16, 2009 - link

    Smart users would simply buy a fast SSD disk and a Windows 7 Home premium 64bit pack. Anand may glorify to heavens Lynnfield i5 but there is not a single excuse for dumping perfectly good hardware from 2006 upward for Intels new mainstream platform. Best upgrade would be in 2011 with a brand new platform from AMD, new CPU's from both companys that carry the AVX instruction sets, cheap low latency and fast DDR3-1600 ram as a standard, mature,cheap and fast DX11 cards, PCI-EX 3.0 and many more things. Reply
  • Hrel - Saturday, June 06, 2009 - link

    I HATE their stupid price fixing screw the consumer crap. CPU's over 200 dollars are useless, that's simply too much for a CPU. They won't give us dual cores based on nahaylem cause they'd have to charge 190 and less; OH NO! Greedy bastards. I REALLY want AMD to get back on top so prices get driven down again.
    It's INFINETELY infuriating that the ONLY way that intel charges fair prices is if someone else MAKES them.
    Reply
  • Hrel - Saturday, June 06, 2009 - link

    Seriously??? E8400 anyone? I REALLY don't care about having 8 threads, like even you said in this article, doesn't really help consumers. I'm far more interested in highly clocked dual cores, and wish Intel would release dual core CPU's based on the new architexture, throw HT onto a solid dual core and I can't see any games in the near future even fully utilize it.I'd MUCH rather see a 4GHz dual core cpu with HT than some more stupid quad cores at sub 3GHZ clock speeds. This is 2009, we need to leave the sub-3GHz range in the history books. Reply
  • HexiumVII - Tuesday, June 02, 2009 - link

    Lynnfield looks mighty good. Unfortunetly USB3 and SATA3 are looming. Since they won't be integrated into mobos for a while, high bandwidth on the PCIe slots for add-in cards will be crucial for the transition. I don't know about you buys, but USB3.0 will be the most exciting upgrade we had in a while. Reply
  • MasterShogo - Monday, June 01, 2009 - link

    I'm not really sure if this has been talked about at all, but it seems to me that the option for an Nvidia-supplied chipset providing integrated graphics, and it still be good, isn't completely lost.

    I think you have to ask, why does a person want Nvidia integrated graphics in the first place? I see two reasons. For one, to provide a "business-like" or super-simple PC that has adequate graphics performance for normal stuff and simple games, but with a powerful processor. For this use, Nvidia could just make a chip that uses 8 of the PCIe lanes coming out of the CPU socket and leave the other 8 for the user/vendor to optionally provide a faster video card. Sure, that slot wouldn't have the awesomeness of a 16x PCIe slot, but it would be perfectly fine for this machine. Plus, the added video card could still use hybrid SLI or something similar for power-saving purposes...

    Which leads me to the other reason people (like me) might want it. Power savings via hybrid-SLI. I would personally want all 16 lanes coming out of the CPU socket for my SLI setup or just one monster card. But in this case, I think it would be perfectly fine to have a 3rd party P55-like chip provide hybrid-SLI video for power savings. I wouldn't care about the starved DMI link, because I would never expect that video chip to do anything difficult, that's what I have the other video cards for! This is assuming the drivers work well enough to switch over very seamlessly when it needs to happen.

    In other words, I think there is still enough input/output throughput for Nvidia to sell chips that use integrated graphics, but it is just going to be more spread over the board now, making their electrical design more difficult. Possibly requiring two different chips to provide for the two different scenarios. I don't see why they couldn't do it, though.

    Or even better, make a 3rd party chip that can accept, as an interface, both the DMI and the PCI links coming out of the socket, but only using what is available in the particular board you are manufacturing at the moment. Maybe that would be too expensive, though. Any thoughts on how feasible that may be?

    In any case, I don't need the three memory channels. It's not that I don't WANT them, it's that they don't help me at all. It's not like I'm running a major database server in my bedroom or anything. But having a direct PCI connection to the CPU would be cool, and I think this processor is just super-duper for a variety of reasons.
    Reply
  • Kreed - Monday, June 01, 2009 - link

    In terms of Photoshop CS4 performance, would a 2.8GHz i5 outperform 2.66GHz i7 920?

    Reply
  • Beno - Sunday, May 31, 2009 - link

    if you test the i7 920 with HT off, lynfield will lose number 1 in those gaming benchmarks

    why didnt you bench it without HT?
    Reply
  • genkk - Sunday, May 31, 2009 - link

    is there any new mobos like the dragon platform to bench, anad is even using an old catalyst driver......

    ... your 65% chipzilla and 35% chimpzilla
    Reply

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