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'Nehalem' 2.93 GHz Benches Revealed

By - Source: Tom's Hardware | B 111 comments

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.

Intel Nehalem CPU-z

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:

ProcessorIntel Nehalem 2.93 GHz
MotherboardPrototype X58 motherboard
MemoryCrucial Ballistix DDR3-1600 1GBx2
StorageSeagate SATAII 750GB (ST3750330AS/P)
GraphicsATI Radeon 4850 HD
OSMicrosoft Windows Vista SP1
Resolution1280 x 1024
Patcheshotfix_vista32-64_dd_ccc_hd4800series_64906

The results so far are:
3DMark 06 1280x1024 noAAScore
3DMarks12786
SM2.0 score4605
HDR/SM3.0 score5600
CPU score5183

PCMark 05Score
PCMark9852
CPU score9583
Memory9010

Just for reference, a similarly configured Core 2 Extreme X6800 at 2.93 GHz delivers a CPU score of 7417 - roughly a 29 percent difference clock for clock. When compared to a similarly equipped AMD Athlon FX-62 system, the gap widened even more, to a staggering 36 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. Keep in mind though that the CPUs above are all dual-cores. We’ll update with quad-core comparisons shortly.

3DMark VantageScore
CPU score17966
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.

Update: Quick tests between our 2.93 GHz Nehalem unit and a quad-core Core 2 QX6800 (2.93 GHz) as well as an AMD QuadFX Athlon FX-74 (3 GHz) reveal the following:

PCMark 05Score
Nehalem 2.93 GHz 9852
Core 2 Extreme QX6800 2.93 GHz8925
QuadFX Athlon FX-74 3 GHz7501

Performance between an early quad-core Nehalem at 2.93 GHz and a Core 2 Extreme QX6800 running at the same frequency reveals more than an 11 percent difference in performance. Meanwhile, Nehalem takes an even larger lead with a 24 percent between it and the higher clocked QuadFX Athlon FX-74. It’s interesting to note here that the quad core FX-74 is only roughly 7 percent faster than the dual-core Athlon FX-62m which is quite an old CPU now.

This gives a good view into the engineering behind the Nehalem architecture and the performance gains that Intel is able to achieve with even pre-production silicon. Very healthy? We definitely think so.

Update 2: As we mentioned earlier, this article was meant to give a brief introduction into some basic performance figures for Nehalem. Keep in mind that the CPU launch is still several months away. This is not meant to be an in depth review covering all CPU comparisons and charts. Fortunately, we were able to pull up PCMark 05 performance figures comparing Nehalem at 2.93 GHz and Phenom 9850 BE:

PCMark 05Score
Nehalem 2.93 GHz9852
AMD Phenom 9850 BE 2.5 GHz7400

The result is roughly a 33 percent difference. Right in line with what we predicted. For reference, the fastest Phenom available, the 9950 BE running at 2.6GHz was able to give a score of 7680, slightly above the Phenom 9850 BE by 3.7 percent. However, Nehalem is still faster than the fastest Penom 9950 BE by 28 percent.

We’ll release real-world gaming performance when we get more mature hardware through the labs.

Thanks to jumpingjack6 for correcting us on our percentage math. Nehalem is actually 33 percent faster than Phenom 9850 BE with a 17 percent clock difference

Display 111 Comments.
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  • 1 Hide
    beerzombie , July 9, 2008 9:12 PM
    I'm not sure how relevant it is, but you don't mention if you're running Vista SP1 32 or 64 bit. Anyway really looking forward to a full review.
  • 0 Hide
    pizap , July 9, 2008 9:26 PM
    Can't wait for the full review
  • -1 Hide
    spuddyt , July 9, 2008 9:27 PM
    isn't the x6800 a dual core? you are comparing a dual and a quad?
  • 0 Hide
    asdasd123123 , July 9, 2008 9:54 PM
    Uhhh, so the QUAD CORE nehalem is 23% faster than a DUAL CORE? Errr.
    Someone made a type-o, or that new cpu is useless :p 
  • 1 Hide
    Titanius , July 9, 2008 10:11 PM
    spuddytisn't the x6800 a dual core? you are comparing a dual and a quad?


    Obviously you haven't read the entire article, here is the answer to your question quoted directly from the article:

    "Keep in mind though that the CPUs above are all dual-cores."
  • 0 Hide
    techtalk , July 9, 2008 10:13 PM
    I didn't understand the 23% comparison. Please elaborate.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , July 9, 2008 10:19 PM
    Uh, isn't the FX-74 going on two years old now? Odd setup to benchmark against.
  • 5 Hide
    androticus , July 9, 2008 10:23 PM
    WHY would you compare to Athlon and not (Quad) Phenom????
  • 1 Hide
    asdasd123123 , July 9, 2008 10:32 PM
    TitaniusObviously you haven't read the entire article, here is the answer to your question quoted directly from the article:"Keep in mind though that the CPUs above are all dual-cores."


    What's your point? There are quad core cpus from both intel and amd to compare with, and has been for a while now. There's no point what so ever to use a dual core for reference.

    There's only one scenario where that comparison would make sense, and that's if 3dmark is exclusively single threaded, and as far as I know, it isn't.
    Scoring 23% better with twice as many cores is a rubbish score.
  • 0 Hide
    gxsolace , July 9, 2008 10:39 PM
    asdasd123123What's your point? There are quad core cpus from both intel and amd to compare with, and has been for a while now. There's no point what so ever to use a dual core for reference.There's only one scenario where that comparison would make sense, and that's if 3dmark is exclusively single threaded, and as far as I know, it isn't.Scoring 23% better with twice as many cores is a rubbish score.


    How is it rubbish? i have a dual core cpu and i'd like to know how much performance i'd get from going to Nehalem when it comes out? Seems reasonable for me and any other dual core owner. Get a better grasp on the scope of things and not such a narrow mind. In fact, i and many others didn't plan on upgrading to quad cores for the very reason that the performance difference were small, as indicated in the article. now that we see even bigger differences with nehalem, I feel now it's reasonable to upgrade for the price. Sheesh.
  • 1 Hide
    asdasd123123 , July 9, 2008 10:41 PM
    And on top of it all, they have even stated that the AMD is a quad, but the FX74 is a ancient dual core with 90nm technology?!

    Even the intel dual core is rather old, with 65nm. An e8500 would have been a better choice, being 1333fsb/45nm and so on...!?
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , July 9, 2008 10:46 PM
    cool
  • 4 Hide
    asdasd123123 , July 9, 2008 10:46 PM
    And now they add an amd quad fx test...... Is this a joke Toms?
    Have you heard of Phenom recently?
  • 2 Hide
    jimmysmitty , July 9, 2008 11:01 PM
    I think people should wait for the full review. This is just a teaser really.

    Unfortunately 3DMark is by no means a good way to show a CPUs power. A real test will come in the encodig/decoding and also how well it can run the games physics and such since it is supposed to have a onboard physics engine, courtesy of Havok.
  • 4 Hide
    joefriday , July 9, 2008 11:02 PM
    Wake me up when we have non synthetic, real world benchmarks.
  • 1 Hide
    cjl , July 9, 2008 11:16 PM
    I have but one question: Is that core voltage for real?
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , July 9, 2008 11:43 PM
    Good Point, That is a VERY low voltage at that speed.
  • 1 Hide
    gxsolace , July 9, 2008 11:48 PM
    asdasd123123 dude don't vote me down because what I said makes sense.
  • 1 Hide
    stuart72 , July 10, 2008 12:09 AM
    maybe the 'Quad' Athlon FX74 (isn't this actually a twin dual-core processor MB?) was used as this is the only AMD 'Quad-ish' offering to run at 3GHz native, I'm probably wrong but no Phenoms run that fast without O/C do they? Just a thought.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , July 10, 2008 12:16 AM
    LOL.

    Here's an idea: Take that unlocked multiplier on that Phenom BE, and set it to 3GHZ, AND THEN COMPARE THE BENCHMARK SCORES... Surely the experienced overclockers at Toms can get it 3ghz stable. The fact that it was OCed from 2.5 to 2.6 makes me think that Nehalem is not that much better clock-for-clock, your choice of platforms for comparison are just silly.
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