updated 01:05 pm EDT, Wed September 23, 2009
Intel Core i7 mobile now official
Intel at its second Developer Forum keynote officially unveiled its first Core i7 processors for notebooks. Once codenamed Clarksfield, the quad-core processors share the same Nehalem architecture and 45 nanometer process as the desktop part but are designed to consume much less power, although more at peak than the Core 2 Quad. The top-end Core i7 Extreme consumes 55W where regular quad Core i7 mobile chips will use 45W.
Every model supports i7's Hyperthreading, which can run up to two program threads per core and run as many as eight threads on today's models. They also overcome the clock speed drop inherent to Core 2 Quad by using Turbo Boost: in tasks with less threads than actual cores, the new CPUs can shut down one or more cores while clocking the remaining cores much higher. Other changes to Intel's architecture, such as the point-to-point interface between the processor and memory, similarly translate from the desktop.
Three processors make the debut. Two regular processors, the i7-720QM and i7-820QM, run at 1.6GHz at 1.73GHz in normal use but ramp up to 2.8GHz and 3.06GHz respectively in Turbo Boost mode. They both also have 8MB of Level 2 cache. The Extreme variant is the i7-920XM and runs at 2GHz with all four cores but can scale up to 3.2GHz when necessary.
Systems are already available from Alienware and Toshiba with models from HP and others coming soon.
Vendors such as Apple as well as more mainstream Windows notebooks aren't expected to come until early 2010 in earnest, when Intel's dual-core Arrandale Core i5 and Core i7 processors ship. The i7 should have all the features of Clarksfield outside of the core count, while the i5 should disable Hyperthreading.