Intel Core i7 Processors: Nehalem and X58 Have Arrived

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Vital Signs and Overclocking

On the surface, Intel's new Core i7 processors look much like their predecessors, but the new architecture and socket obviously results in some major differences between the two. What you see pictured here is a Core i7 920 processor...


The new Core i7 processors are similar to Core 2 processors in that they have a similar looking heat-spreader and packaging material, but the similarities end there. Core i7 processors are physically larger than Core 2 processors, they have significantly more pads and surface mounted components on their underside, and there are pads on the top edge as well. Whether or not those pads on the top side of the chips can be used for some interesting mods remains to be seen.


In these side by side comparisons of a Core i7 and Core 2 processors, the differences between the two can clearly be seen. The Core 2 processor is noticeably smaller, and the density and number of pads on its underside is obviously reduced.

Overclocking The Core i7
Pedal To The Metal

Intel Core i7 Extreme 965 CPU-Z Details

We fired up the latest version of CPU-Z to give you all a glimpse into the Core i7 platform’s inner workings, with a Core i7 Extreme 965 installed in an Intel X58SO motherboard. In its stock configuration the Core i7 Extreme 965 processor powering the platform is clocked at 3.2GHz (24 x 133MHz, 6.3GT/s QPI link speed) with a 1.16v core voltage. The process technology is correctly identified as 45nm and the processor uses Intel’s new Socket 1366 LGA packaging. The processor cache configuration information and QPI link speed are listed as well.

Intel Core i7 Extreme 965 Processor Overclocked to 4.1GHz

We also did some overclocking to see how much headroom these early Core i7 processors have left untapped under their hoods. Because the Core i7 Extreme 965 has its overspeed protection removed--i.e. its multipliers are unlocked--we overclocked the processor by raising its multiplier to 25 and also experimented with an increased QPI speed. With the core voltage raised to 1.4v and the memory voltage tapped at 1.65v, we were able to take our particular processor up to a stable 4.15GHz with air-cooling.

As you may have heard in the weeks leading up to today's announcement, the Core i7 processor, and in particular its integrated memory controller, are sensitive to increased voltages. Memory voltages higher than 1.65v are not recommended and could damage the CPU. In light of this, memory manufacturers have begun shipping triple-channel DDR3 memory kits capable of relatively high frequencies with voltages no higher than 1.65v.

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