IDF: Inside Nehalem

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Nehalem is the codename for Intel's next generation Core microarchitecture--which has recently been given the official processor family name of "Core i7."  Nehalem was one of the big topics of discussion at IDF--and not just because it represents the next generation of Intel's processors, but also because the clock is winding down quickly on when the chip will make its official, public debut. An official date has not been given yet, but Intel is promising that we'll see Nehalem systems for sale sometime in Q4 of this year.

  

This article represents the culmination of several IDF presentations, privates meetings, and conversations with Intel representatives from this past week--most of the slides are from a presentation give by Rajesh Kumar, Intel Fellow and Director of Intel's Director, Circuit, & Low Power Technologies.

Intel claims that Nehalem represents the biggest platform architecture change to date. This might be true, but it is not a grounds-up, completely new architecture design. An Intel representative told us that Nehalem "shares a significant portion of the P6 gene pool"--it does not include many new instructions and has approximately the same sized pipeline as Penryn. Nehalem is built upon Penryn, but with significant architectural changes to improve performance and power efficiency. It includes more external ports and deeper buffers. Nehalem will be manufactured on a 45nm process and will be the basis for Intel's  forthcoming platforms, including the desktop, server, and mobile spaces.

  

One of the biggest changes Intel made with Nehalem is integrating the memory controller directly into the processor (which up to now has been located in the Northbridge of Intel's chipsets). Nehalem supports native DDR3 SDRAM memory (3 channels per socket) and up to the three DIMMs per channel. This three-channel memory architecture is a radical departure from the dual-channel SDRAM memory architecture that has existed since 2003 with the introduction of Springdale. Intel claims up to a 3.4x increase in memory bandwidth from Pernryn. As DDR3 memory speeds get faster, Intel says we could potentially see up to a 6x increase in memory bandwidth. Intel also claims that memory latencies have improved by more than 40 percent.
 

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 lol. i guess the answer is no then! I am sure they will release more then 1 flavor of this cpu when it's released. can't imagine they would only have a $1000+ version of it as it only makes a very small fraction of the market

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They'll definitely have a few flavors, I'm just not sure if they will release them all at once or push the high-end chips out a few weeks/months earlier than the rest.

In all seriousness, regarding the chipset: It will definitely be something completely new - because the new chips have an integrated memory controller. I wonder what that's going to do, if anything, to the amount of heat generated by the northbridge?

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It is the stuff of dreams :) or AMD's nightmares... either way I like it lol

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Don't count AMD out to soon. Nvidia just made that mistake.

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very true but amd hasn't anything in the pipes to compete....yet

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This is what my next my next build will probably be -- I just have to somehow hold myself off for another 2-3 quarters or so as I am definitely not interested in spending $1000+ for a CPU. I will wait for the "non-extreme" editions happily.

I am truely excited to see official numbers and release dates

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Moving the memory controller onto the chip is going to be an epic move

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Any prices out yet? Im def waiting for it. I've been long over due for a computer upgrade and can't wait for Nehalem, hopefully Intel's SSD's are out too!

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Cmoazz:

Any prices out yet?

about $300 for the lowest cpu. I think 2.6 or something like that, but boards and ddr3 are going to be high as well.

 

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 I wonder if they will start packageing 3GB sets of ram and 6GB sets. Would make sense to me.

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