About: Core i7 (Nehalem)

About: Core i7 (Nehalem)


Intel Core i7, the newest processor family in town, is now available in the US Market. It is based on the Nehalem microarchitecture and built on a 45 nm process.

If you’re aware of the Tick-Tock method of Intel, Core i7 is the tick stage. The ‘tock’ part will come soon with codename Westmere and will be utilizing the 32nm process.

Core i7 has the ff. new features/technologies:

  • Quad-core technology –> native, unlike the Intel Core 2 Quad
  • Hyper-threading –> 2 threads for each core
  • Turbo Boost technology –> translate the power budget from unused/off core to increase frequency of the core in use
  • QuickPath interconnect –> replaces the FSB
  • LGA1366 socket –> replaces the old LGA775
  • 8MB Smart Cache –> L3 cache on-die
  • Integrated memory controller

Other notable features:

  • 731 million transistors
  • 263mm^2 die size
  • 45 nm manufacturing process

The big question (more like a frustration) is WHEN will this be available locally. It’s only been a few years since the popularity of the Intel Core 2 Duo has dominated the local market, while the quad version Intel Core 2 Quad is still in testy waters until recently. But I’m glad it’s already out there.. Soon probably it will reach our shores. DDR3 and motherboard are still not cheap yet anyway.

Now on to the architecture (which i find more interesting). The layout looks as follows upon callout.nehalem_die_callout

What i find interesting is more on the power efficiency feature.

  • Power Gate –> shuts off both switching and leakage power giving zero power for inactive cores
  • Power Control Unit –> microcontroller inside the core; control using embedded firmware
  • 8-transistor SRAM –> lower the voltage for power efficiency; to do this, it uses 8-T SRAM (low voltage) from the traditional 6-T SRAM (high voltage)
  • Turbo-boost technology –> additional performance bins (using power gates) from unused power
  • Back to Static CMOS –> converts all domino datapath to classic static cmos

Here’s a nice video from Intel.

If you find this interesting, just follow the yellow brick road.

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