updated 03:20 pm EST, Mon November 3, 2008
Core i7 Early Tests
First tests of Intel's new Core i7 processors released today are showing what's billed as "historic" speed increases over earlier Intel architecture. Benchmarks of the range-topping, 3.2GHz Core i7 Extreme along with the X58 mainboard neeed to support the chip show it surpassing even workstation-class Xeon processors, which are often Intel's fastest. In Geekbench for Windows, the quad-core i7 part reached a 7998 score, or about 7.7 percent higher than a dual-socket Xeon server.
Other tests relating to gaming and other CPU-intensive tasks have shown similar gains that are steeper when compared against regular parts, in at least one case increasing performance by as much as 32.5 percent over a similarly-clocked Core 2 Extreme.
The differences are largely credited to a radically different internal architecture which drops the legacy system bus in favor of a point-to-point design known as QuickPath that lets the processor talk more directly to memory as well as peripherals. Moving to the new technique greatly improves memory bandwidth and reduces the overall latency in waiting for instructions to complete round trips between different parts of the system. The memory interface now also supports three channels and so theoretically runs faster if at least three memory banks are full.
Most now expect the first Core i7 desktop processors to make their debut between November 14th and November 16th. The initial all-quad lineup should consist of both the lone Core i7 Extreme part, the i7-965, with a $999 bulk price as well as a regular 2.93GHz Core i7 (the i7-940) at $562 and a 2.66GHz unit (the i7-920) at $284.
Xeons based on Core i7 are due at about the same time. Mobile Core i7 processors falling under the Clarksfield codename aren't believed to be ready until the second half of 2009 but will share most of the architectural upgrades of the desktop parts.