The powerful ‘Nehalem’ microarchitecture moves into the mainstream with the Core i5-750, a 2.6GHz quad-core which can throttle up to 3.2GHz in single-core ‘Turbo’ mode.
Intel today unleashed the second wave of its Nehalem-class processors with the debut of the mid-market Core i5 and a pair of more affordable Core i7’s.
All three are built around the Lynnfield blueprint, a pared-down version of the original Bloomfield platform of the first Core i7 900-series.
The changes are relatively minor and vastly improve Lynnfield’s bang-per-buck ratio. The new chips on the block lose the QPI (QuickPath Interconnect) link to additional processors or the IO Hub, and cut back the number of DDR3 memory from three channels to two.
Each of the trio remains in a quad-core desktop configuration packing 8MB of shared L3 cache, and are partnered to the fresh-baked P55 Express motherboard chipset with discrete graphics. Lynnfield-class processors in mobile and dual-core desktop forms with integrated graphics are set to follow.
One of the main differences between the Core i5 and the Core i7 is that the mid-market processor lacks the per-core HyperThreading of its big brothers.
However, each boasts multiple steps in Intel’s Turbo Boost technology. This powers down individual cores in order to deliver an overall clock speed boost based on fewer cores running at a higher frequency while staying within the thermal ceiling.
In the case of the Core i5-750, the processor’s native 2.66GHz can ratchet up to 2.8GHz and 3.2GHz when extra muscle is needed.
The Core i7-860 starts at 2.8GHz but can punch up to 3.46GHz, while the i7-870 accelerates beyond its nominal 2.93GHz to redline at 3.6GHz.
Where things really get interesting is the price. The 2.66GHz Core i5-750 is tagged at an astonishing US$196 (that’s the per-thousand price to an OEM). Compare that to the 2.66GHz Core 2 Quad Q9400 or even the 3.16GHz Core 2 Duo, both of which sell for US$183.
Early benchmarking by AnandTech also puts the Core i5-750 on a performance par with the first-gen Core i7-920, despite the newcomer being around 30% cheaper.
The 2.8GHz Core i7 860 sells to OEMs by the tonne at US$284, and the 2.93GHz Core i7 870 at US$562.
While Intel’s first-gen Core i7 920 and 940 sell for the same price as the 860 and 870, respectively, the Lynnfield models start at an equal or higher nominal clock speed, ratchet two steps higher in Turbo Boost mode and have a lower thermal ceiling of 95 watts compared to 130 watts.
For a deep dive on the new Lynnfield processors, check out the amazing 20-page report at AnandTech