updated 12:15 pm EDT, Fri September 18, 2009
Quad Core i7 much faster in benchmarks
Intel's upcoming Core i7 four-core parts for notebooks, nicknamed Clarksfield, should be much faster per clock cycle compared to their existing Core 2 Quad counterparts based on tests published today. Although normally clocked at just 1.73GHz, the mid-range Core i7-820QM is seen in PCPro benchmarks often coming close to, matching or outperforming the 2.53GHz Core 2 Extreme that costs significantly more than the expected $750 for the newer chip. The edge comes despite extra handicaps on the test system versus the Dell M6400 Covet used for comparison, as the Core i7 system had just half the RAM (4GB), a slower-spinning 5,400RPM hard drive and a more mainstream GeForce GT 240M graphics chip versus the workstation-grade Quadro FX 3700M in the older PC.
At the same time, the 1.73GHz processor is also much more efficient and consumes roughly half of the power of the slower-still 2GHz Core 2 Quad with a full workload. The draw is still too high for thin-and-light notebooks but, at 74W, would make it more suitable for notebooks smaller than the 17-inch Dell model.
Most of the speed jump is attributed to Turbo Boost, a feature present in all Core i3, i5 and i7 parts that improves the performance of certain tasks by dynamically shutting down unused cores and increasing the clock speed of the remaining cores. The i7-820QM runs as quickly as 3.06GHz in this mode. Hyperthreading also provides a benefit by supporting two tasks on each core, potentially supporting eight tasks at once on a quad-core chip.
Intel could launch mobile Core i7 as early as next week with 1.6GHz and 2GHz versions joining the newly tested model. Arrandale, the dual-core variant most likely to reach much thinner and less expensive notebooks, may not arrive until late this year or early in 2010.