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Intel Core i7 (Nehalem): Architecture By AMD?

Conroe laid strong foundations and Nehalem builds on them. It has the same efficient architecture, but it’s now much more modular and scalable, which should guarantee success in the different market segments. We’re not saying that Nehalem revolutionizes the Core architecture, but it does revolutionize the Intel platform, which has now once again become a formidable match for AMD in terms of design and surpassed its competitor in terms of implementation.

With all the improvements made at this level (integrated memory controller, QPI), it’s not really surprising that the changes to the execution core are purely incremental. But the return of Hyper-Threading is significant and there are several little optimizations that should guarantee a notable gain in performance compared to Penryn at equal frequencies.

Clearly, the greatest gains will be in situations where memory was the main bottleneck. In reading this article, you’ve probably noticed that this is the area the engineers have focused their attentions on. In addition to the integrated memory controller, which will undoubtedly produce the biggest gains where memory access is concerned, there’s a raft of other improvements, both big and small—the new cache and TLB hierarchies, unaligned memory access and prefetchers.

After all these theoretical considerations, the next step will be to see if the improvements in actual applications will live up to the expectations that the new architecture has aroused. We’ll look into that in a series of upcoming articles, so stay tuned!

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