I have to admit, I have gotten used to the Socket 775. It was the friendly stable quad-core in the corner that never had a problem, was as stable and dependable as the rising sun and packed a performance punch that knocked out pretty well all its competition. As the Kentsfield and Penryn sits alone in the ring, there isn't anyone to fight or defend off. The only thing Intel can do is launch a new product on to the market and essentially fight itself. This is something that a lot of companies will not ponder seeing they don't want to cannibalize their other processor sales but I have a feeling the newer technology that had to offer was just too good to keep under wraps. The thing is, the megahertz war of the Pentium 4 era died when that processor line became obsolete. The speed of the processor isn't the problem anymore, and Intel has focused on the main roadblock that was holding back any real speed increases, and that is processor memory bandwidth.
This month marks the release of Intel's new i7 Nehalem 1366 pin processor line which boasts some new features such as an integrated on-die memory controller for faster memory access and the removal of the processor-memory bottleneck. the triple channel memory controller allows for two dimms per channel with a maximum memory capacity of 24Gb of total accessible memory. Remember, to take advantage of this, you will have to use a 64bit operating system. The now 133.33Mhz based bus system uses a set multiplier which is different for each processor to set the processor speed (24x133.33=3.2Ghz), and also to set the proper DDR3 memory bus speed (8x133.33Mhz=1066Mhz DDR3).
Another new inclusion is Intel's QPI link (Quick Path Interconnect) which is much like AMD's Hypertransport which essentially allows all cpu cores and threads to communicate amongst themselves and to access a fast pool of memory for improved bandwidth and speed. The Extreme Edition being reviewed today has a faster QPI link capability of 6.4 gigatransfers/sec and DDR3-1600 whereas the standard i7 model will be pulled back to only use 4.8 gigatransfers/sec and only support a native DDR3 speed of 1066 without any overclocking.
But even though the 965 XE is a four core processor like the QX9770, with its new hyperthreading technology, each core is capable of processing two threads simultaneously which when relatively compared to the QX9770 makes the 965 XE capable of processing double the threads as the older processor was capable of. But even though it is capable of processing double the threads, it still has the 130w heat output and thanks to Intel's new "Turbo Mode" and Power Gate features in its new SkullTrail based motherboards, the motherboard and processor can essentially turn off unneeded processors to save power and reduce heat output when they are not needed and to also reduce power leakage.
With that said, what I am reviewing today is the fastest of the latest Nehalem offerings which is the 965 XE Extreme Edition which will be splashing into the processor market pool at a rather remarkable introductory MSRP of US$999. Some might be scratching their heading and wondering what is so remarkable about a one thousand dollar processor, but when you note that the introductory MSRP on the QX9770 came out at $2000 give or take a hundred bucks, then Intel's newer extreme offering is somewhat of a bargain right out of the gate.
While being clocked at the same speed as the QX9770 at 3.2Ghz, the 965 XE has the bandwidth and capability to really push Intel's processor lineup up another notch. We'll see if the numbers prove to make a difference in real life applications and gaming.
INTEL CORPORATE PROFILE
For more than three decades, Intel Corporation has developed technology enabling the computer and Internet revolution that has changed the world. Founded in 1968 to build semiconductor memory products, Intel introduced the world's first microprocessor in 1971. Today, Intel supplies the computing and communications industries with chips, boards, systems, and software building blocks that are the "ingredients" of computers, servers and networking and communications products. These products are used by industry members to create advanced computing and communications systems. Intel's mission is to be the preeminent building block supplier to the Internet economy.