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What makes an i7 so "special"?

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  • Intel i7
  • Build
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May 11, 2009 11:44:33 PM

ive seen alot of posts about builds about the i7, i am too, going to make a build including the i7, but out of curiosity, i just wanted to ask why the i7 is better than the other quads? the only thing i can thing of is that...well, it uses the x58 MB's

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May 11, 2009 11:55:44 PM

I believe most users went for Core i7 because of its platform, rather than just the CPU.

In terms of platform, you get:

1. both SLI and Xfire multi-GPU technology (biggie)
2. Tri-Channel memory
3. Future Upgradability (also supports 32nm Westmere)
4. Better performance / cost ratio

In terms of CPU, you get:
1. Hyperthreading (4 physical cores, 4 logical cores, 8 total)
2. Improved architecture from Penryn
3. Best performance in all of the quad cores

May 12, 2009 12:00:03 AM

im sorry....im pretty new :p  but what is hyperthreading? also, ive seen some benchmarks and other quad cores do seem to perform better than the i7, like a Q9550
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May 12, 2009 12:05:11 AM

wikipedia for win >:], so if hyperthreading does share the work load with its physical cores and its logical cores, wont that still give you the same heat output, but better performance?
May 12, 2009 12:17:32 AM

It's based on new technology,it uses QPI instead of FSB which makes things faster,it runds cool,comes with hyperthreading which makes it the best multitasker you can get,with the x58 chipset you get support for both sli and crossfire,tri channel memory (the only one of its kind at least for right now), it's a great all around cpu except for gaming where the gap isn't really as wide. I personally didn't want to get it because i don't really need it and i am waiting to see whether the p55 chipset for the i5 supports both sli and crossfire.
May 12, 2009 12:30:03 AM

hmm, dunno cant find the benchmarks, i did see the i7 did falter a bit, not by much though, is there a big gap between the i7 920 or the i7 980 extream? <-- correct me if im wrong, i do think its called a 980
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May 12, 2009 12:48:02 AM




computernewbie said:
ive seen alot of posts about builds about the i7, i am too, going to make a build including the i7, but out of curiosity, i just wanted to ask why the i7 is better than the other quads? the only thing i can thing of is that...well, it uses the x58 MB's


Think of it in terms of IPS and you and me. Imagine the time it takes you to count to ten. Then imagine in that amount of time I can count to 100. Or a google.

Or a google of IPS.
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May 12, 2009 2:45:29 PM

yomamafor1 said:
I believe most users went for Core i7 because of its platform, rather than just the CPU.

In terms of platform, you get:

1. both SLI and Xfire multi-GPU technology (biggie)
2. Tri-Channel memory
3. Future Upgradability (also supports 32nm Westmere)
4. Better performance / cost ratio

In terms of CPU, you get:
1. Hyperthreading (4 physical cores, 4 logical cores, 8 total)
2. Improved architecture from Penryn
3. Best performance in all of the quad cores

^
Exactly why I upgraded to the i7. A BIG reason is the new x58 chipset. It also uses QPI (QuickPath Interconnect) rather than the FSB to communicate with memory. Your discriction of Hyperthreading sounds a little confusing. Its a 4 core CPU, but each core is a hyperthreading core, which means each core can process multiple threads at once and the OC treats each core as 2 virtual cores = 8 virtual cores.

My big seller was Crossfire AND SLI, triple channel DDR3, Memory controller integrated in the CPU, plus the obvious 4 cores and fat cache. It also has a longer lifespan as opposed to the LGA775, which is going to start to sunset as far as new products are concerned.
May 12, 2009 3:29:52 PM

I wonder why Core 2 didn't have HT, they had the technology.
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May 12, 2009 4:01:27 PM

^
Or they couldn't fab it on a 65 or 45nm chip. The i7 isn't the same architecture as the Core2, maybe they couldn't use it in their design. I'm sure their R&D threw that idea around.
May 12, 2009 6:50:44 PM

jay2tall said:
^
Or they couldn't fab it on a 65 or 45nm chip. The i7 isn't the same architecture as the Core2, maybe they couldn't use it in their design. I'm sure their R&D threw that idea around.


Then they would have had no way to milk 775.

Word, Playa.
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May 12, 2009 7:51:52 PM

^
I thought the i5 was going to be quad core, but will only support dual channel DDR3. From what I read as well it won't be binned as high as the i7 so OCing won't be as crazy as the i7.
May 12, 2009 8:18:35 PM

^ no, i5 is the mainstream sector I suppose you could call it.

i5 includes dual cores, quad cores, then after a while hexa cores and octa cores.

4 HT's, so basically a slightly more powerful intel atom dual core?

and weren't the last gen P4's 65nm? so they must have been taking away the association.

also I though Nehalem and Core 2 were both based on the pentium 3 architecture.
May 12, 2009 8:34:31 PM

computernewbie said:
hmm, dunno cant find the benchmarks, i did see the i7 did falter a bit, not by much though, is there a big gap between the i7 920 or the i7 980 extream? <-- correct me if im wrong, i do think its called a 980



No offense mate, but methinks you've got a whole heap of stuff wrong. I'll explain.

1) There is no such thing as a 980 xTreme. There is, however, a 965 Extreme.

2) The performance gap between the 920 and 965 is significant but nothing you really want to be spending the extra money for unless you are an extreme overclocker, and you like the sound of the unlocked multipier (which helps control the speed of the CPU).

3) The ONLY situation I see an i7 falling over to its older counterparts is in gaming, where, really, there isn't that much difference. Hell, a Phenom II performs much the same as an i7 while gaming; but that's primarily due to the fact that most modern games aren't properly multi-threaded yet. In everything else, an i7 will trounce everything, Core2Quad or Phenom II.

Hope that clears some things up. :hello: 
May 12, 2009 8:44:57 PM

so is QPI vs FSB a main difference between the i7 and AM3 Phenom II's?
May 12, 2009 8:54:39 PM

Phenom II doesn't have an FSB, they have much the same tech that Intel employs in the i7. As a matter of fact, AMD processors have had QPI (I know its another name, but the word escapes me for now) for years before Intel decided to finally ditch the FSB.

Phenom II also lacks hyperthreading technology. As for the finer differences between the two - I couldn't honestly say. I do know that Intels 45nm chips use High-K technology in its manufactering process, and that AMD CPUs don't at this time.
May 12, 2009 9:11:29 PM

Hi,

Ho my god I never think all of that before buying my I7. For me the reason I buy it are really low hahaha...

1- it's new technology so It will last longer
2- The board are easy to OC
3- They run fast, wich is a plus in my line of work. the job I do a home take half time what it's It take at the office.
4- Look at my sig ... everyone can oc with that, read a little or take directly setting for other and most of the time it will work.

For me that's the four importants reasons, may be I'm completly out of order if so .. I don't really care to have buy this technology for the wrong reason ;-) It's work.
Bye
May 12, 2009 9:42:55 PM

noodle64 said:
so is QPI vs FSB a main difference between the i7 and AM3 Phenom II's?

Nope really QPI is super similar to Hyper Transport :) 

AMD droped FSB a long time ago.
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May 12, 2009 9:52:18 PM

theres a lot of hype around i7. if gaming is your only concern, core2 is just as good.
May 12, 2009 10:14:12 PM

jay2tall said:
... A BIG reason is the new x58 chipset. It also uses QPI (QuickPath Interconnect) rather than the FSB to communicate with memory.


Yes, but... Well, there is only one consumer chipset for the i7 currently and, my undestanding is, that chipsets for the i7 have to work that way. so whether you describe that as '...because of the chipset...' or '...because of the i7...' is, at best, a semantic distinction.

And, its also, effectively, the way that hypertransport works on AMD processors.

This is an advantage because core-to-core communication can occur without blocking core-to-memory-controller communication.

Quote:
Hyperthreading is the main reason. The I7 is a part time 8 core processor


I'm going to disagree that its the main reason; in some applications, hyperthreading is a real advantage, but in some it slows things down. Partly, you have to ask yourself, for how many applications today, is 4 (single threaded) cores not enough?

In future, as more and more apps can take advantage of thoroughly multi-threaded processors (more than just one thread, times the number of cores), this will increasingly become an advantage, but today its probably close to being a wash, depending on which apps you mostly run.

I think the improvements in the micro-architecture the cache and the on-chip memory controller are probably the biggest contributors in cases in which extra virtual cores isn't helping. but, in reality, there are probably several features each of which makes quite a moderate contribution on their own, but together it all adds up.

Quote:
and other quad cores do seem to perform better than the i7, like a Q9550


One of those is a processor, the other is a family. If i choose the fastest member of the i7 family, no other consumer processor will get close in most benchmarks. But I'll be broke and won't be able to afford the electricity, which isn't ideal...

Quote:
I wonder why Core 2 didn't have HT, they had the technology.


Because it didn't have to, and it would have been a lot of work. The p4 was a long decode queue, high clock speed processor, with a (relatively) low Instruction per Clock count. With a long pipeline part every pipeline stall causes a long wait while the pipeline refills and this causes a loss of performance.. as the clock goes up and up in pursuit of decent performance, the pipeline stalls eat a higher and higher proportion of the apparent perf gain from the clock speed. You can, however, minimise the performance loss by having more pipelines and refilling one in 'spare time' so that when the first pipeline stalls, you swap to the second and you no longer have to wait the full time for a pipeline refill.

So, the advantage of hyperthreading is a function of how badly stalls were going to eat into your potential performance.

When the core 2 parts came out, the clock speeds were relatively low (with the improved ICC, roughly half the clock speed of a P4 got you comparable performance, although part of that is also a function of cache size and arch, so you can't just say its a core function; its really the system working together).

So, the original core 2 parts would not have benefited from hyperthreading, or at least not to anything like the same extent as the P4 parts did, but as clock speeds rise the problem starts to press in on these parts, too.

Quote:
I'm sure their R&D threw that idea around.


For sure. They would have had to do a complete new detail design of the system to make it work with the core 2's revised pipeline and they were (sounds difficult to believe now) under the cosh from AMD and were desperate to get the core 2 parts out as quickly as possible. How things change!

Quote:
I thought the i5 was going to be quad core, but will only support dual channel DDR3. From what I read as well it won't be binned as high as the i7 so OCing won't be as crazy as the i7.


Doesn't that mean overclocking might be even crazier? For marketing reasons, the i7 will probably always have the highest specified clock frequencies, but the fundamental processes geometries will be the same. That means that the i5, in reaching the same absolute clock frequency, will have overclocked higher in terms of the ratio. Might need some pretty special memory to do it, though, as I'm guessing there probably won't be an unlocked/extreme edition i5.

Quote:
^ no, i5 is the mainstream sector I suppose you could call it.

i5 includes dual cores, quad cores, then after a while hexa cores and octa cores.

4 HT's, so basically a slightly more powerful intel atom dual core?


You are right that i5 is aimed at mainstream, which the i7 wasn't. The only question is, how fast intel want to finish off the s775 platform in the mainstream and get the transition to happen. Maybe they'll be happy running out new Celerons and Pentiums on s775 for a while, but my guess is that s775 won't get much other development once i5 is available and they may even want to kill off the mainstream core 2 duo and quad parts quickly, too.

i5 will be way more powerful than an Atom. The Atom's ICC is notably low and the clock speeds aren't pushing the limits either, so its not a speed demon. the i5 won't be all that far off the i7 at the same clock speed and assuming that they allow it enough cache. From a marketing point of view, it rather depends on whether they are more interested in making a clear gap between i5 and i7, or hitting back at AMD in the mid-market. If they want a gap, they reduce the cache to about half of the i7, or even less, and sell the platform at prices that really hits AMD. Otherwise, it gets more cache, the prices are a bit closer to the i7, but the performance is too, but the faster Phenom II, still AMD's top and therefore most profitable, parts are in trouble. (And the remaining core 2 range turns into celeron's and pentiums and they take on the AMD parts below the Phenom IIs).

Quote:
tri channel memory (the only one of its kind at least for right now)


Probably technically true, but don't some of the (serverworks?) server chipsets have four channels? Yeah, I know that's not three, but if three is better than two, doesn't four trump three? And, I guess if you've got four channels, you could decide to only use three of them. Probably.
May 13, 2009 12:50:37 AM

Dont forget! x58 boards accept both ATI and Nvidia, so it costs less to switch when one company beats the other each year...
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May 13, 2009 1:20:06 AM

Plus the i7 is here now and I can enjoy it today rather than waiting for the i5 to upgrade. It made me happy now. hehe.
May 13, 2009 1:33:28 AM

computernewbie said:
im sorry....im pretty new :p  but what is hyperthreading? also, ive seen some benchmarks and other quad cores do seem to perform better than the i7, like a Q9550

Yeah, in games, by about 2 fps.
May 13, 2009 3:50:24 AM

@jay2tall: I hear the i5 is mainstream, and i7 is performance. Just an FYI. I mean if you want you can have either high performance now, or mainstream later.
May 13, 2009 12:32:56 PM

hello there this is becuase core i 7 has hyperthreading . sse4.1 , faster clocks , QPI , X58 chipset , support for sli and crossfire , L3 cache is there about 8 mb i know in the extreme one , 45nm archtecture more transistors.
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May 13, 2009 12:40:13 PM

dragonfang18 said:
@jay2tall: I hear the i5 is mainstream, and i7 is performance. Just an FYI. I mean if you want you can have either high performance now, or mainstream later.

I've made my choice. haha
May 13, 2009 2:13:03 PM

I wonder what will be cheaper build when i5 comes out? i5 or i7?

since the bottom-end model which still has HT is $324 which is more than the i7 920 now, and speculation that the i7's price will go down when i5 comes out just makes me wonder, because unless the i5 motherboards are ridiculously cheap I see little reason in buying i5. Since you lose the QPI, CF and SLI capability in one chipset, triple channel memory. Only thing you gain is possibly better OC'ing because the IMC doesn't handle as much (2x1333mhz instead of 3x1333mhz) and a slightly higher clock of 2.8ghz.
May 13, 2009 7:55:08 PM

Quote:
I5 will have HT. Love the idea of a dual core with 4 HT's

mee too :D 
May 13, 2009 7:55:53 PM

Quote:
I5 will have HT. Love the idea of a dual core with 4 HT's

me too :D 
January 29, 2010 5:30:51 PM

Roffey123 said:
No offense mate, but methinks you've got a whole heap of stuff wrong. I'll explain.

1) There is no such thing as a 980 xTreme. There is, however, a 965 Extreme.

2) The performance gap between the 920 and 965 is significant but nothing you really want to be spending the extra money for unless you are an extreme overclocker, and you like the sound of the unlocked multipier (which helps control the speed of the CPU).

3) The ONLY situation I see an i7 falling over to its older counterparts is in gaming, where, really, there isn't that much difference. Hell, a Phenom II performs much the same as an i7 while gaming; but that's primarily due to the fact that most modern games aren't properly multi-threaded yet. In everything else, an i7 will trounce everything, Core2Quad or Phenom II.

Hope that clears some things up. :hello: 




The i7-980x is intels new gulftown hexa-core.
!