Several days ago we took a look at Intel’s next generation X58 platform for Nehalem in which we explained that the new chipset will be bringing along several new features. The most significant of these features is QuickPath, which is a brand new link architecture very similar to AMD’s HyperTransport, and getting rid of the front-side bus (FSB) system altogether.
What this means for enthusiasts is that old methods of overclocking will no longer work with Nehalem. What will happen is that the connection between the CPU and the northbridge (X58 MCH), will be based on an external clock multiplier running at 133 MHz. At this time, with an early X58 sample motherboard on hand, we’re still unable to change this frequency, but our motherboard sources tell us that this is a feature that will be available via the system BIOS once things go into full production.
Today however, we were able to really play around with a 2.93 GHz quad-core ’Nehalem’ processor. Unfortunately, we were not able to test the system for long, and therefore very little comparison could be made to another system. However, we did manage to run the chip through some common synthetic benchmarks. We will definitely be providing a full performance review. For today though, we have a quick look at how Intel’s next generation platform performs.
We used the following system specifications :
|Processor||Intel Nehalem 2.93 GHz|
|Motherboard||Prototype X58 motherboard|
|Memory||Crucial Ballistix DDR3-1600 1GBx2|
|Storage||Seagate SATAII 750GB (ST3750330AS/P)|
|Graphics||ATI Radeon 4850 HD|
|OS||Microsoft Windows Vista SP1|
|Resolution||1280 x 1024|
The results so far are :
|3DMark 06 1280x1024 noAA|
Just for reference, a similarly configured Core 2 Extreme X6800 at 2.93 GHz delivers a CPU score of 7417 — roughly a 23 percent difference clock for clock, core for core. When compared to a similarly equipped AMD Athlon FX-62 system, the gap widened even more, to a staggering 31 percent difference, with ’Nehalem’ taking a long distance lead. Keep in mind t hat this is actually very impressive, because our Nehalem platform is running on very early hardware, specifically the motherboard. We are expecting even better margins in the coming months as the platform matures.
|CPU Test1 (Plans/S)||2515.1|
|CPU Test2 (Steps/S)||23.08|
Although this is a short preview, it gives us an overall idea of the potential that’s in Intel’s next-generation CPU. Nehalem is a huge step forward for Intel in many ways, leaving behind some old concepts, and taking a big step forward in other areas.
At its expected announcement in Q4’08, Nehalem will be released initially with 4-cores, and later scaling up from there. One detail to note is that HyperThreading makes a nice comeback as well. Our CPU read as 8 processors in Windows Vista.
Frequency potential with Nehalem in its current state of silicon, is very healthy, Intel told us during Computex earlier in June. With our preliminary tests of the 2.93 GHz CPU, we’re confident in saying that enthusiasts can expect even faster processor frequencies down the line.
Keep in mind this article is not meant to be a review, but is a short expose on the potential of the Nehalem family. We hope it gives you an idea of what to expect.