Intel Core i7 - 965/920 - architecture and performance

Published by Jean-Luc Hadey on 03.11.08
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Conclusion

With Nehalem Intel shows a once in a decade overwork of their CPU architecture. Compared to other competitors their integration of the memory controller into the CPU as well as on die routing comes a little late. It seems that Intel was able to learn from the faults of AMD and Alpha which did this step earlier and the result Intel now presents can really convince.

Further Nehalem is the first major overhaul of Core 2 microarchitecture which was introduced in June 2006. By creating a scalable and flixible basis for the next ten years Intels Hillsboro developer teams seems to have done a remarkable job.

Overall Intel seems to have improved, accelerated or extended nearly every single unit with Core i7 except the functional units. Most of all changes one can find in the memory pipeling. The biggest modification in the cores is the implementation of SMT of which in future nearly every single application will profit.

If we concentrate on performance figures we are able to state that Nehalem is in none of the tests slower than its predecessor. The span goes from 13 percent in F.E.A.R. to 248 percent in SiSoftSandras memory bandwidth test.
It is a matter of fact that bandwidth intense benchmarks profit most because of the now integrated memory interface. As a further example POV-Ray performs more then 50 percent faster than an already fast Core 2.

An interesting feature is Power Gate. It is not only able to deactivate every single core independently it can also overclock them. It does so if a single thread application or another one which can use the power of two or three cores needs more performance to be executed more quickly.

At this point we only wait for the final prices which we will present as soon as possible.



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