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The purpose of this thread is collect information on Core i7, i5 and i3 processors (Lynnfield and Clarkdale).

Table of Contents
  • Nehalem Microarchitecture
  • System Architectures for the Nehalem Processors
  • List of LGA 1156 Processors
    • Branding Scheme
  • Intel 5 Series Chipsets (Ibex Peak)
  • Core i7 and i5 Processor (Lynnfield)
  • P55 Chipset Motherboards
  • Core i5 and i3 Processor (Clarkdale)
  • Integrated Graphics (Ironlake)
    • The new Intel Clear Video HD technology
    • HD Audio Bitstreaming
  • H55/H57 Chipset Motherboards
  • Intel Processor Roadmap
  • Sandy Bridge: The Next Bang!
  • Reviews
Clarkdale Processor:

Nehalem Microarchitecture

Nehalem Microarchitecture is an Intel processor microarchitecture that succeeded Core Microarchitecture and was released in November 2008. It is based on Core Microarchitecture with several new technologies:
  • A new processor bus, called Intel QuickPath interconnect, that features point-to-point serial bus topology, similar to PCI Express and HyperTransport (AMD adopted it in 2003).
  • IMC (Integrated Memory Controller) supporting up to triple channel DDR3.
  • Performance improvement by adding new functions such as
    • SMT (Simultaneous Multi-Threading), the revival of HyperThreading Technology in Pentium 4
    • New 3-level cache hierarchy, L2, L2 (new 256KB/core), L3 (8MB fully-shared)
    • New 2-level TLB (Translation Lookaside Buffer) hierarchy
    • L2 branch predictor

The desktop versions of the Nehalem processor are (in chronological order):
  • Bloomfield: Core i7 processors released on November 17, 2008. 4 cores/8 threads, LGA 1366, 45 nm.
  • Lynnfield: Core i7 and i5 processors released on September 8, 2009. 4 cores/(up to) 8 threads, LGA 1156, 45 nm.
  • Clarkdale: Core i5 and i3 processors to be released in January 2010. 2 cores/(up to) 4 threads, integrated graphics core, LGA 1156, 32 nm.
  • Gulftown: Core i9 processors expected in Q2 2010. 6 cores/12 threads, LGA 1366, 32 nm.

(The 32 nm version of Nehalem is dubbed Westmere.) Then Sandy Bridge Microarchitecture will succeed in 2011.


Most people in this forum will be concerned with Clarkdale (mainstream) and Lynnfield (high-end). Bloomfield will be limited to extreme high-end (>=$500), as well as Gulftown ($1000?).

System Architectures for the Nehalem Processors


Core i7 (Bloomfield) system architecture is very similar to the AMD platform: memory controller is integrated in CPU; CPU and IOH (I/O Hub) are connected by QuickPath InterConnect (similar to HyperTransport); IOH and ICH (I/O Controller Hub) are connected by DMI (Direct Media Interface) (~PCI Express x4 just like AMD's A-Link Xpress II).


In Core i7 and i5 (Lynnfield), PCI Express controller is integrated in CPU; CPU and PCH (Platform Controller Hub) are connected by DMI. In Core i5 & i3 (Clarkdale) further includes graphics core and video streams are transported to Display Interface Controller in PCH via FDI (Flexible Display Interface).


More details on Clarkdale:


And Sandy Bridge that supports SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0 (Update: postponed until 2012):


Sandy Bridge will be the mainstream Intel processor in 2011. So Clarkdale will be short-lived. Check Intel Processor Roadmap .

List of LGA 1156 Processors

Lynnfield processors (4-core, no IGP, 45 nm; to be released on September 8)


- Core i7 870 (8 Threads/2.93GHz/TB 3.60GHz/L3 8MB/DDR3-1333 2ch/95W) $562

- Core i7 860 (8 Threads/2.80GHz/TB 3.46GHz/L3 8MB/DDR3-1333 2ch/95W) $284 ✓

- Core i5 750 (4 Threads/2.66GHz/TB 3.20GHz/L3 8MB/DDR3-1333 2ch/95W) $196 ✓

- Core i7 860S (8 Threads/2.53GHz/TB 3.46GHz/L3 8MB/DDR3-1333 2ch/82W) $337

- Core i5 750S (4 Threads/2.40GHz/TB 3.20GHz/L3 8MB/DDR3-1333 2ch/82W) $259

Clarkdale processors (2-core, IGP, 32 nm; to be released in January 2010 at CES 2010)


- Core i5 670 (4 Threads/3.46GHz/TB 3.73GHz/GPU 733MHz/L3 4MB/DDR3-1333 2ch/73W) $284

- Core i5 661 (4 Threads/3.33GHz/TB 3.60GHz/GPU 900MHz/L3 4MB/DDR3-1333 2ch/87W) $196 ✓

- Core i5 660 (4 Threads/3.33GHz/TB 3.60GHz/GPU 733MHz/L3 4MB/DDR3-1333 2ch/73W) $196

- Core i5 650 (4 Threads/3.20GHz/TB 3.46GHz/GPU 733MHz/L3 4MB/DDR3-1333 2ch/73W) $176


- Core i3 540 (4 Threads/3.06GHz/TB -/GPU 733MHz/L3 4MB/DDR3-1333 2ch DDR3/73W) $133

- Core i3 530 (4 Threads/2.93GHz/TB -/GPU 733MHz/L3 4MB/DDR3-1333 2ch DDR3/73W) $113 ✓

- Pentium G6950 (2 Threads/2.80GHz/TB -/GPU 533MHz/L3 3MB/DDR3-1066 2ch/73W) $87

References Branding Scheme


The most important features that distinguish between i7, i5 and i3 are:
  • Number of threads (instead of the number of cores)
  • Turbo Boost Technology

Roughly speaking,
  • Core i7 = 8 threads, Turbo Boost (4 cores [Lynnfield])
  • Core i5 = 4 threads, Turbo Boost (4 cores [Lynnfield] or 2 cores [Clarkdale])
  • Core i3 = 4 threads, no Turbo Boost (2 cores [Clarkdale])




Intel 5 Series Chipsets (Ibex Peak)


According to this source , Braidwood will not be supported by the 5 Series chipsets, hence P57 was canceled.


Core i7 and i5 Processor (Lynnfield)


Here are two charts from AnandTech that perhaps HTPC users are most interested in.

x264 HD Benchmark Ver. 2.0


Power Consumption at Idle and x264 HD Benchmark


P55 Chipset Motherboards


P55 chipset motherboards come in three flavors:
  • Non-SLI: The PCI Express 2.0 x16 link does not split.
  • SLI x8: The PCI Express 2.0 link splits into two x8 links, SLI-certified by NVIDIA.
  • SLI x16: The nForce 200 chip is equipped for 2-way SLI: x16, x16 and 3-way SLI: x16, x8, x8.

Basically price (and the number of other features) increases in this order. CrossFireX is supported in every P55 motherboard in every possible way: x16, x4 / x8, x8 / x8, x8, x4 etc.


The PCI Express 2.0 x16 link is directly connected to the processor. Moreover the P55 chipset has 8 PCI Express 2.0 (but of the same bandwidth as 1.x) lanes. Typically these 8 lanes are used in the following way:
  • PCI Express x1 expansion slot
  • PCI Express x1 expansion slot
  • PCI Express x4 expansion slot
  • SATA/eSATA/PATA PCI Express controller (such as JMB363)
  • Gb LAN PCI Express controller

Here are a couple of recommended P55 motherboards.

Low-End (non-SLI)
  • ASRock P55 Pro, $115: (Perhaps) the best non-SLI motherboard.
  • Foxconn P55A-S, $105: A basic mb (without IEEE 1394).
  • ASUS P7P55D, $150: A basic mb (with IEEE 1394).
Mainstream (SLI x8)
  • ASRock P55 Deluxe, $175: DTS Connect is supported (good for S/PDIF gamers) and a 2-port (e)SATA 6Gbps PCI Express controller card is bundled. ASRock P55 Extreme, $150, a stripped down version of Deluxe, is also good.
  • ASUS P7P55D EVO, $185: IMO the best mb in this class. There are two minor variants: ASUS P7P55D PRO, $170: a stripped down version of EVO; ASUS P7P55D Deluxe, $220: comes with a real-time overclocking controller (useful?) and features 16+3 phase VRM design.
  • Intel DP55KG (BOXDP55KG), $210: Designed by talented Intel engineers. As usual there is no legacy port. Dolby Home Theater is supported (good for S/PDIF gamers). A stripped down version, DP55WG (BOXDP55WG), $140, is also good (no third-party storage controller, no Dolby Home Theater, no heatsink on MOSFET).
High-End (SLI x16)
  • EVGA P55 FTW 200 141-LF-E658-KR: For serious gamers.
  • ASUS P7P55 WS SuperComputer, $250: For SLI graphics work and CUDA users.

For complete systems, check my Recommended Systems – September 2009 Edition .

Core i5 and i3 Processor (Clarkdale)


From AnandTech (Please read this review for comprehensive understanding of the processor):


Integrated Graphics (Ironlake)

The new Intel Clear Video HD technology (from HKEPC Hardware )


HD Audio Bitstreaming (from AnandTech )

Quote:
They've increased the number of receivers they test with (originally it was at a whopping two, now they're up to…7). They've also expanded their test scenarios as well. The combination of the two, Intel believes, will result in a fully functional set of HTPC features at launch.


The first time I went by Intel's Clarkdale demo, Intel couldn't get bitstreaming working. A day later I got an email telling me to drop by again - they fixed it. I got to see TrueHD bitstreaming from a Clarkdale system to a Sony receiver. I also confirmed that full two stream decode acceleration was working.


Intel had it working with ArcSoft's player, but is working with all of the major software vendors to hopefully enable full support on everything. Intel does seem to be taking this much more seriously than with G45.


The Clarkdale launch is still a couple of months away so there is definitely time for Intel to work out the kinks.


This is a serious feature. The fact is that in a couple of years every single PC shipped will have the ability to bitstream these audio codecs without any additional hardware. We're finally getting there folks.
H55/H57 Chipset Motherboards

Intel DH57JG (Jet Geyser) Intel H57 Chipset Mini-ITX Motherboard


ASUS P7H57D-V EVO Intel H57 Chipset ATX Motherboard




Intel Processor Roadmap
  • Extreme XE: ~$1000
  • Performance P1: ~$500
  • Mainstream MS3: ~$284
  • Mainstream MS2: ~$196
  • Mainstream MS1: ~$176
  • Essential E2: ~$133
  • Essential E1: ~$113
  • Value V3: ~$84
  • Value V2: ~$64
  • Value V1: ~$53




Here is a figure on the transition of Intel desktop CPU sockets through 2011 (presented by Intel in February 2009).


By the end of 2010, Lynnfield/Clarkdale (LGA 1156) occupies near 50% of all desktop processors and the rest are the Core 2 processor. Then Sandy Bridge (LGA 1155) quickly takes a place of them in 2011, occupying 70% of all desktop processors by the end of 2011.

Sandy Bridge: The Next Bang!


The next generation microarchitecture Sandy Bridge will be released in 2011. There will be two platforms, each of which succeeds Lynnfield and Bloomfield respectively. The basic system architecture is close to Lynnfield/Clarkdale (not to the current Bloomfield).

Sandy Bridge H2
  • The new socket LGA 1155
  • 2 cores (65W) or 4 cores (95W)
  • With or without GPU core
  • Dual channel DDR3-1333 memory controller
  • PCI Express 2.0 20 lanes (Xeon only) or 16 lanes; x16 or x8+x8
  • DMI(Direct Media Interconnect) Gen.2 x4 (4GB/sec)

Chipset Cougar Point:
  • SATA 6Gbps x 2 and 3Gbps x 4
  • USB 3.0 will be postponed until Ivy Bridge in 2012.


Sandy Bridge B2
  • The new socket LGA 136x
  • 6 cores or 8 cores
  • No GPU core
  • Triple channel DDR3-1600 memory controller
  • PCI Express 3.0 24 lanes; x16+x8 or x8+x8+x8
  • DMI(Direct Media Interconnect) Gen.2 x4 (4GB/sec)

Chipset Patsburg:
  • SATA 6Gbps x 2 and 3Gbps x 4
  • USB 3.0 will be postponed until Ivy Bridge in 2012.


As for integrated graphics, Next Generation Intel Clear Video Technology will be introduced (as well as Graphics Turbo+ for mobile).


Reviews

LynnfieldClarkdaleIDF 2009




 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
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Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx /forum/post/17031447


Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio are supported. But what does this mean? Bitstreaming?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by archibael /forum/post/17032460


Glad to hear that. WinDVD supports it?
 

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Glad to hear what? I said nothing!


(I'll have a better idea in several weeks)
 

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Preparation for the 2013 models, which will be so capable that you will not need to drive anywhere because your Avatar will perform all of your errands for you.
 

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How does the number of threads and hyper-threading effect encoding times, with handbrake or other h264 encoders.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by daninfamous /forum/post/17032808


How does the number of threads and hyper-threading effect encoding times, with handbrake or other h264 encoders.

If HT is on, encoding with x264 is ~25% faster according to this test .



 

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Thanks for this I've heard a little about these and they sound like they are going to be pretty awesome! Intel leading the way once again.
 

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What about threads vs cores, 4 cores 4 threads vs 4 cores 8 threads?


// edit

I think I answered my own question, HT is sort of turning the 4 cores into 8 threads, thus the 25% boost, am I correct?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by daninfamous /forum/post/17033152


What about threads vs cores, 4 cores 4 threads vs 4 cores 8 threads?

The above figure is exactly that. Lynnfield = 4 cores with HT (8 threads) or without HT (4 threads).
 

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Thanks bud, now see'ing that chart, I would probably be better off buying a used i7 920 for ~200 then a new i5 as its still performing better in x264 encoding.
 

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Possibly, though the platform costs on 920 will likely be higher.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by renethx /forum/post/17032900


If HT is on, encoding with x264 is ~25% faster according to this test .



Not sure I understand this, with HT on it's 25.2 vs. 26.7. That's not 25% faster, that's 1.5 (about 6%) faster. You mean with HT off?


Nevermind, you meant with HT on vs HT off on the Core i5.
 
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