Intel Lifts Curtain On First Core i5, Rounds Out Nehalem Lineup


The quad-core, 2.66GHz Core i5-750, priced initially at $196 per part in 1,000-unit quantities, becomes the first sub-$200 processor in Intel's Nehalem-based desktop lineup. Coupled with Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel's new P55 express chipset, also introduced Monday, the initial Core i5 and the first two parts in Intel's Core i7 800 series deliver the advantages of Nehalem at more mainstream price points than the initial high-performance Core i7 900 series that debuted last November, said Steve Dallman, general manager of Intel's Worldwide Reseller Channel Organization.

"All indications are that the channel is going to lead with Lynnfield. The motherboards cost a lot less. You've got fewer chips and chipsets on the board. The bang for the buck is incredible," Dallman said.

Tweaks to the Nehalem microarchitecture such as hyperthreading and Turbo Boost, which is essentially a baked-in, stable overclocking feature on the Lynnfield parts, add some extra appeal to the new products, he added.

The Core i5, for example, is listed with a 2.66GHz clock, but that number jumps to 3.2GHz with Turbo Boost, though it doesn't feature hyperthreading. The other two parts in the new Lynnfield desktop lineup, both quad-core processors with hyperthreading enabled, are the 2.93GHz Core i7-870, priced at $562, and the 2.80GHz Core i7-860, priced at $284. Those processors, along with the Core i5 750, feature 8 MB of cache and slot into the 95-watt thermal envelope.

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Six quad-core additions to Intel's Xeon lineup of server/workstation processors might have even more appeal to custom system builders, Dallman said, particularly those serving small to midsize business customers with entry-level servers. At the top of the bin is the 2.93GHz Xeon X3470, which Intel lists at $589.

Rounding out the new Xeon 3400 series are the X3460 (2.80GHz, $316), X3450 (2.66GHz, $241), X3440 (2.53GHz, $215), X3430 (2.40GHz, $189) and L3426 (1.86GHz, $284). All but the Xeon X3430 feature hyperthreading, or eight threads to four cores, while the low-power Xeon L3426 consumes just 45 watts in contrast to the 95-watt X3400 parts. As with the new Core products, all of the new Xeons have Turbo Boost and 8 MB of cache.

Never shy of the superlative, Intel calls the new P55 express chipset for the new Core i5 and Core i7 processors "the most revolutionary design change since the invention of the PCI bus."

With this new design, code-named Ibex Peak, Intel has reduced the number of chips needed for baseline CPU functionality from three to two. With Nehalem, Intel introduced an integrated memory controller on the central processor die and further adds a 16-lane PCI Express 2 graphics port to the new Lynnfield CPU package. That frees up the second chip in Ibex Peak to take on I/O duties previously handled by a third piece of silicon, and voila -- less chipset footprint on Lynnfield motherboards and lower manufacturing costs, Dallman said.

The new releases also represent the final maturation of Intel's 45nm process technology, first introduced in the second half of 2007. Intel already has begun transitioning to the 32nm process with products, code-named Westmere, that are set to be released before the close of 2009.