Tick tock? More like ding-dong, mutha—shut your mouth. What baby? We’re talkin’ about Core i7.
Our apologies to Isaac Hayes, but if he were alive, we’re almost certain he would have been tapped to hammer out a theme song for Intel’s most significant CPU launch in, well, ever.
Why is this CPU more significant than the 8088, Pentium, or Pentium M? As the second new chip produced after a series of embarrassing losses to archrival AMD, the Core i7 will answer for the world whether Intel is prepared to ride the momentum of its Core 2 launch with another winning chip or if it’s content to rest on its laurels, as it did with the Pentium 4.
Core i7 also represents a major new direction for Intel, which has stubbornly clung to the ancient front-side-bus architecture and discrete memory controller for years. Indeed, with its triple-channel integrated DDR3 memory controller and chip-to-chip interconnect, the block map of a Core i7 looks more like an Athlon 64 than a Core 2 chip.
Intel actually has three quad-core Core i7 CPUs ready: the top-end 3.2GHz Core i7-965 Extreme Edition, the performance-oriented 2.93GHz Core i7-940, and the midrange 2.66GHz Core i7-920. For the most part, all three are exactly the same except for clock speeds, multiplier locking (only the Extreme is unlocked), and QuickPath Interconnect speed. See the chart on page 42 for details.
The bigger issue is how Core i7 performs. To find out, we ran the Extreme 965 against AMD’s fastest proc as well as Intel’s previous top gun in a gauntlet of benchmarks. Read on for the results.
Continue reading for our comprehensive review and benchmarks!
We know what you’re thinking, what more could a motherboard vendor put on the PCB that would convince anyone to part with $400? Asus thinks its latest Rampage II Extreme board in the Republic of Gamer’s series will do it.
This X58-based Core i7 board features support both Tri-SLI and CrossFire X, six DDR3 DIMM slots, EAX 4.0 software support, an audio card riser, heat pipes, LCD poster displays and a joystick and probe ports to connect your multi-tester.
What the hell do you need a joystick on a mobo for? Using the provided small single-line LCD display, you can toggle voltages, overclocking profiles or clock speeds. Want even more insane features? The board features probe ports to connect a multi-meter to the motherboard to read direct voltages for the RAM, southbridge, PCI-E, CPU, QPI and CPU PLL’s.
One feature the board doesn’t have that we expected was support for Nvidia’s nForce 200 chip. Instead of the Nvidia hardware, Asus has SLI certification for up to three-way SLI in a x16/x8/x8 configuration. There’s no word as to whether Asus plans to offer a board with an nForce 200 part in it yet.
If you thought EVGA was out of the motherboard game with Nvida sitting out the Core i7 chipset game, think again. EVGA just released the spec’s of an upcoming Nehalem motherboard with SLI support.
EVGA’s X58 SLI FTW mobo won’t be based on an nForce chip, instead it will use an Intel x58 chipset. The board will feature a six-DIMM slot configuration and support for both 2-way and 3-way SLI. The board is one of several that Nvidia will “bless” with SLI support in drivers. The other option to obtain SLI support is for board makers to integrate nForce 200 chips into the PCB. Most of the early X58 designs are foregoing the chip for now though. Nvidia did announce recently that Asus, MSI, Gigabyte and DFI as well as EVGA would support SLI.
The cost of the SLI certification for boards without the nForce 200 has been reported to be as high as $30. Recently, however, Expreview.com, reported that Nvidia was charging $5. Nvidia has not verified any of the pricing saying that the cost varied from contract to contract based on the volume and terms set up in each deal. The company did pooh pooh the earlier report of $30 though.
Click through for more details about this newly announced board!
It's been a long and arduous wait, but enthusiasts who have dreamed of pairing multiple Nvidia videocards in an SLI configuration on an Intel chipset-based motherboard will soon walk in a silicon field of dreams. No longer the topic of speculation, Nvidia has officially announced that it has licensed its SLI technology to several top-tier motherboard manufacturers - Asus, EVGA, MSI, Gigabyte, and DFI - for upcoming motherboards based on Intel's X58 chipset.
"Asus is bringing many motherboards into production with support for Nvidia SLI technology, and a motherboard worthy of mention is the new Asus Rampage II Extreme which is based on Intel's upcoming X58 chipset," said Joe Hsieh, GM at Asus Motherboard Business Unit.
SLI-licensed motherboards have entered the final production stage and will launch concurrently with Intel's Core i7 processors next month. According to the press release, certified boards will include both those using the Nvidia nForce 200 SLI processor, as well as motherboards designed to run SLI natively through a licensing and certification program. And for you Crysis junkies, look for support for 3-way SLI configurations as well.
Power users have been chomping at the bit in anticipation of Intel's upcoming Core i7 platform, and some sites have already begun cashing in through pre-order sales. But as is often the case, being first means you'll likely pay the most.
Most of the pre-order parts are being found overseas, such as the MSI X58 Platinum motherbaord that was recently listed for over $300, or the MSI Eclipse spotted selling for as much as $413.
And it's not just MSI. As Fudzilla discovered, the Asus P6T Deluxe (the same board spotted with a warning label cautioning against running RAM voltage higher than 1.65V or risk damaging the CPU) was seen selling for $444. That's still cheaper than the Asus P6T Deluxe "OC Palm Edition," which at least one vendor had on pre-order for a staggering $492.
On the processor front, Canadian e-tailer PCVOnline is taking pre-orders on the Core i7 920 (2.66GHz), 940 (2.93GHz) and 965 Extreme Edition (3.2GHz) for $340, $650, and $1100 respectively. These aren't quite as overpriced as the above motherboards, as official bulk pricing is expected to set at $284, $562, and $999 respectively.
Anyone out there willing to pay pre-order pricing for day 1 bragging rights?
Yet another leaked slide has made its way to the web, this time showcasing a triumvirate of motherboards slated for a late 2008 release by top tier vendor MSI. The company has labeled its enthusiast offering as the Eclipse, and its performance board will carry the familiar Platinum nomenclature as the X58 Platinum. The third board, which doesn't yet have a name (X58 Diamond?), will target the "Über Overclocker" according to the slide.
The mystery board carries the most intrigue, and not because of its lack of name. While all three motherboards bring support for Nvidia's SLI and ATI's CrossFireX, the board without an identity shows support for quad-SLI or tri-SLI with PhysX support in full speed x16 PCI-E v2 slots (insert your own Crysis reference).
The mighty Fudzilla has dropped a rumor that we can expect the first Core i7 to arrive in the US in week 46, between the 10th and 14th of November. They also said that Japanese customers might even be able to buy them as early as the first days of November. They cite unnamed sources.
Intel of course, remains mum only saying to expect it sometime in Q4 of 2008. Intel is more of a tease than my first girlfriend.
As Fudzilla notes there are plenty of X58 based motherboard prototypes that have floated on the internet in the pasted few months from names like MSI, Gigabyte, and Asus. If there is a mid November launch of Core i7, there should be a selection of motherboards available for it, some with overclocking features.
I have only had my Newegg wish list system configured since last March. It has gone through several revisions waiting on Core i7, and the power supply is up in the air depending on the stated needs of the motherboard I pick. I figured on $300 on the CPU and another $300 on the Motherboard. Yeah, I know it is no Dream Machine. However, I have to operate like the government and tell the wife that my stated budget is $1800, when in reality its $2,200 and I am going to run a little over that. Better to beg forgiveness and have a nice new game machine to console myself with, than to ask permission and be denied. I know my limits however and racking up a $5,000 bill on a game system would result in my summary execution. Another $500 bucks I can fix with flowers, chocolate and extra attention (I hope).
Anyone else have a wish list for their new Core i7 system? Tell me about it below!
It’s the worst kept secret in the industry: Intel’s next-generation Penryn killer, codenamed Nehalem is just around the corner. We’ve been seeing leaked benchmarks based on early silicon for months, and Nehalem’s Wikipedia page is already packed with unconfirmed specifications. All indications – and this is with more optimizations to come, mind you – is that Nehalem may be a bad mother worthy of having Isaac Hayes pound out a theme song for it.
OK, we get it. It’s going to be fast, but just how difficult is it to build a Nehalem rig? What are the catches? Will the new motherboard and socket require some silly new BTX form factor? To find out, we convinced one of our hardware contacts (who’ll remain unnamed) to let us into its lab so we could finally get our hands on the new chip. There, we were provided with the desktop version of Nehalem – called Bloomfield – and an Intel D58XSO “Smackover” board.
Read on to see how we built the Nehalem rig, and what surprises we encountered along the way!
We’ve been calling Intel’s next-generation CPU family code-named Nehalem a Penryn-killer because, sadly, AMD’s best and brightest have hardly been that. For those who haven’t sifted the sands of the Internet, and picked the brains of OEM’s and hardware vendors for every detail of Intel’s next-gen microarchitecture, here’s your quick primer on Nehalem that’ll make you big man on campus at the next geekfest.
How Many Cores?
Most Nehalem’s will be native quad-core with all four compute cores on the same physical die. Intel says that the design of Nehalem will also let the company build an eight-core version, codenamed Beckton, for servers. Intel also hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a multi-chip version so could perhaps see a double-die Beckton with 16 cores as well.
An improved version of HyperThreading will find its way into the core of Nehalem. This improved simultaneous multi-threading, or SMT, will let the OS see a quad-core chip as eight cores. Although some still debate its merit, the implementation of HT in the Pentium 4 generally added 15 percent more performance in multi-threaded applications.
I hate it when I am wrong…except this time. Being wrong means I get to have SLI when Bloomfield ships. It seems that Nvidia will be ready for the Bloomfield launch after all with the nForce 200 SLI processor, the older brother of the nForce 100 that was so successfully with the launch of the Skulltrail.
Bryan Del Rizzo with Nvidia says, “some vendors will be incorporating more than one nForce 200 processor for even more advanced configurations and flexibility for multi-GPU configurations. Both 2-way and 3-Way SLI configurations will be fully supported with our latest GPUs, including the GeForce GTX 280 and GeForce GTX 260 GPUs."
I certainly can’t wait to see what the nForce 200 CPUs can do. The part about “more advanced configurations and flexibility for multi-GPU” really sparks my interest. Maybe some sort of GPU cluster across different Nvidia GPUs? I’ll be keeping an eye on that.
Perhaps even more interesting than that, was when Bryan said, “We are not doing our own native chipset for Bloomfield.” What? That’s right, no native Nvidia chipset for Bloomfield CPUs. The reason for not doing a QPI (Quick Path Interconnect) chipset is because of the quick transition to DMI (Desktop Management Interface) and the short-lived nature of QPI. Picking up an X58 Chipset Board with an nForce 200 SLI processor will be the only way to get SLI.
This is a pretty big shift considering Nvidia puts out a very popular chipset for enthusiasts, not that Intel chipsets are any slouch.