updated 08:50 am EST, Thu November 6, 2008
Intel Core i7 Debut Nov 17
Intel's first Core i7 processors are now due to ship in less than two weeks, the company has revealed in an invitation sent to the press. The next-generation processor architecture should be unveiled on November 17th and is being billed as the fastest CPU "on the planet" based on SPEC's integer math tests; no mention is made of floating-point math or other benchmarks.
Also known under its Nehalem codename, Core i7 is primarily touted as faster through its abandoning the traditional front side bus in favor of QuickPath, a point-to-point interface that lets the processor talk directly to memory or the peripheral bus. The move significantly reduces latency and is helped along by a built-in memory controller, three-channel memory support and the return of Hyperthreading. The latter lets a quad-core chip theoretically handle as many as eight tasks at once by running two program threads on each core.
The semicondutor designer has also confirmed its early specs and pricing for the first processors to launch in the lineup, which will focus on mainstream quad-core desktop parts. The 2.66GHz Core i7-920 will serve as the initial entry model and will be one of hte least expensive introductions for a new Intel architecture, costing $284 in batches of 1,000. A 2.93GHz Core i7-940 will be the fastest regular part at $562, while a 3.2GHz Core i7-965 Extreme will cost $999. These should all ship on or shortly after the formal launch through both pre-assembled computers and individually.
All of these processors will have 8MB of built-in Level 2 cache; the bottom two will trim costs by using a slower 2.4GHz QuickPath interface, while the Extreme uses the same 3.2GHz as its core. Power consumption also ranges between 130W and 150W. Mobile Core i7 chips aren't expected until the second half of 2009 due to the need to optimize their power, though new Xeons based on the technology should arrive earlier.