updated 11:20 am EDT, Tue June 24, 2008
Intel Nehalem Speed Leak
Intel will ship three processors based on its next-generation Nehalem architecture before the end of the year, say those in the mainboard industry. While Intel has only demonstrated a test version of a 3.2GHz, quad-core processor in the past, the company is now understood to be launching a production version sometime in the last quarter of the year that will appear alongside lower-priced 2.66GHz and 2.93GHz versions. All three will have 8MB of Level 2 cache and support Hyperthreading that could have a four-core chip behave as though it were eight with optimized software.
The platform will also arrive with a new matching mainboard chipset that will make the most of the new architecture, according to the report: new northbridge and southbridge chips will let the processors access main memory faster through their point-to-point QuickPath architecture instead of a front side bus, and four PCI Express slots will be capable of running at 8X bandwidth for systems with multiple video cards; AMD's CrossFireX will be supported out of the box to use extra cards in accelerating 3D on a single display, with the possible addition of NVIDIA's SLI for GeForce cards.
The combination of Intel's improved chip design and the new mainboard chipsets could improve performance between 15 to 20 percent at the same clock speed, making Nehalem variants faster than earlier processors despite similar clock rates.
It's unclear from the purported leak as to whether the speed grades will be limited to Intel's mainstream Core 2 Extreme and Core 2 Quad lineups, though the semiconductor firm has previously said it would focus on Xeons and very high-end consumer chips in late 2008 with home-use versions due only by the start of 2009. Current Xeons already top out at 3.2GHz but do so using an older architecture.