Penryn processors available today

Written by Phil Cogar

November 12, 2007 // 6:28 p.m.

Tags: #cpu #intel #launch #penryn #processor

Intel has made its first 45nm Penryn processors available for public consumption today in the form of the Core 2 Extreme QX9650 - the chip giant's replacement for the Core 2 Extreme QX6850.

In case you missed it a couple weeks back, Tim and Richard gave the QX9650 a run for its money with a comprehensive run down of the technology and a decent set of application benchmarks. While the price may be a bit steep for some, if you're a hardcore gamer or need the most cutting-edge in hardware technology you probably won't mind spending $1,000 (or £650+ in the UK) on your shiny new processor.

The QX9650 is the first processor from Intel to feature the use of Hafnium-based high-k metal transistors which allows the CPU die to be shrunk without risking massive current leakage, reducing heat output. Intel has also announced fifteen other processors that will use this ground breaking transistor technology. From the Xeon and Core 2 Extreme all the way down to the desktop little brothers, it seems as if every family of processors is getting the high-k metal gate treatment.

"The intellects, physics and designs that went into solving one of the industry's most daunting challenges are awe-inspiring and I congratulate the Intel teams for this breakthrough achievement," said Paul Otellini, President and CEO of Intel. "Best yet, this feat, coupled with our industry-leading architectures, means faster and sleeker computers, longer battery life and better energy efficiency. Our objective is to bring consumers a new class of computers delivering a full Internet experience in ever-smaller, more portable form factors."

In addition to the QX9650, Intel's new Stoakley server platform is available today combining no less than 12 new "Harpertown" quad-core chips with clock speeds ranging from 2GHz up to 3.20GHz, with front side bus speeds (FSB) up to 1600MHz, and cache sizes of 12MB. The three new dual-core "Wolfdale-DP" chips feature clock speeds of up to 3.40GHz, an FSB of up to 1600MHz, and cache sizes of 6MB.

These CPUs are compatible with Intel's 5000 chipset family, although older chipsets will likely require a BIOS update. The latest Intel 5400 chipset platform (internally named "Seaburg") features a two CPU socket supporting northbridge with 24MB of 96-way set allocation cache built in. This is designed to free the front side bus of CPU-cache snoops (snoop filtering) - this is where one CPU noses the contents of other CPUs L2 cache to see what they're currently storing or working on, in order not to overwrite what might eventually need to go in main memory - this is called cache coherency. The Greencreek MCH of previous workstation orientated generation also had a similar snoop filter but Blackford, a server MCH did not - now Seaburg brings this performance improvement to the low-mid range server platform as well.

DDR2 FB-DIMMs are still the weapon on choice for large memory arrays needed for servers, of which has now been doubled to 128GB. Intel still hasn't insisted on DDR3 here yet, even despite upgrading the CPU bus speed to 1,600MHz. To compensate for this extra performance the internal clock speed of the (Seaburg) 5400 chipset has been increased to match that of the Intel X38 - from 333MHz to 400MHz.

So maybe a QX9650 is too expensive for most of you but is it the kind of technology you desire? Let us know in the forums. Below are a few pictures of the Stoakley platform taken by bit-tech at an event in Germany earlier this month, just to tease you a little bit!




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