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Processor: Intel Core i7 920

Tom's Storage Charts 2009: A New Test Environment

Intel’s Core i7 has been available since the end of 2008, and is still the fastest desktop processor you can get. Intel has introduced additional models under the Xeon brand for workstations, but they’re also based on the Nehalem architecture, and hence perform similarly. We chose the Core i7 920, as it is the only model that comes with a reasonable price tag; the Core i7 940 and the 965 Extreme Edition provide clearly better performance, but the premium you pay is too significant if you ask us.

All Core i7 processors come with 8 MB of shared L3 cache, 256 KB L2 cache per processing core and the serial Quick Path Interconnect (QPI), which offers 6.4 GT/s on the Core i7 Extreme and 4.8 GT/s on the regular editions. The trio of available Core i7 CPUs is rated at a maximum Thermal Design Power (TDP) of 130 W.

All Nehalem-based processors available today are based on the socket LGA 1366 interface, which is the basis for Intel’s high-end products and its three-channel DDR3 memory controller. This is why most Core i7 motherboards offer as many as six DIMM sockets: they can accommodate three pairs of memory in three channels. Only the DDR3-800 and DDR3-1066 memory speeds are officially supported (on the i7 920), but many platforms allow users to overclock the memory and unleash additional potential through DDR3-1600 and faster memory.

All Core i7 processors implement a performance feature that was introduced in the Pentium 4: Hyper Threading. This allows the processor to better utilize its execution resources, which is achieved by enabling two logical processors per physical core, totaling eight in this implementation. Some applications benefit slightly from the doubled core count, while others don’t. We decided not to use Hyper Threading in our storage testing, as we cannot be sure that all results are reproducible with eight virtual cores.

Core i7 is also capable of speeding up an individual core if there is a demanding workload that only utilizes a single thread using a technology called Turbo Boost. In such cases, Core i7 processors can bump up the speed of one core by two clock speed increments (each of which is 133 MHz).

More Core i7 Content:

Overclocking Core i7: Power vs. Performance

Overclocking: Core i7 vs. Phenom II

Editor’s Corner: Overclocking Core i7

Update: Core i7 Blazing Fast

Intel Core i7 (Nehalem): Architecture by AMD?

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  • 0 Hide
    kyeana , May 6, 2009 7:05 AM
  • 0 Hide
    crisisavatar , May 6, 2009 7:51 AM
    woot charts ! now we need gpu ones ( i dont mind waiting til Q2 is over )
  • 1 Hide
    curryj02 , May 6, 2009 8:13 AM
    Loving the reinstatement of the 'article index' drop down menu... But I think someone needs to smooth out the rough edges. Minor points, but ones I will make nonetheless.
    First, the dimensions are such that you have vertical AND horizontal scroll... kinda annoying.
    Second, the 'index button' width is slightly smaller than the actual drop down menu that appears. So if you click the down arrow and move your cursor directly down (which because of the width issue, is not over the drop down menu) it deselects the index and it disappears. ARGGHHH
  • 5 Hide
    SpadeM , May 6, 2009 8:47 AM
    joeman42These charts are a disaster. The same exact label is used to denote multiple drives. E.g., Western Digital Raptor or Seagate 7200.11 are each repeated over a half dozen times on each chart. Trying to find a specific model requires you to follow the product link over and over again on each chart. I gave up, still not sure if the one I was interested in is even listed.....

    He's right, and if I select WD and Samsung as filters, and then choose a benchmark, I get all the HDD listed and i have to choose my filters every time I select a benchmark. The old chart system before the site was "pimped" was way better then this.
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , May 6, 2009 8:52 AM
    The charts are bad, but the last version was bad too. The one before that was fine though.
  • 2 Hide
    xsamitt , May 6, 2009 11:30 AM
    I said we'd get harddrive review this week and lo and behold pappa was right.
  • 1 Hide
    acasel , May 6, 2009 12:44 PM
    I like the drop down menu now... Its much faster :-)
  • 1 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , May 6, 2009 12:47 PM
    acaselI like the drop down menu now... Its much faster :-)

    ye but I'd gladly trade the menu for the old layout with avatars and less gray on gray.
  • 1 Hide
    sublifer , May 6, 2009 1:39 PM
    Yay! drop down menu is back!
  • 1 Hide
    xsamitt , May 6, 2009 2:20 PM
    Yes but we were told we'd have our avatars back?i don't see them ,do you?
  • 1 Hide
    sandmanwn , May 6, 2009 2:23 PM
    yeah avatars would be nice to help break up the monotonous comment section. its just one big blob of text.
  • 2 Hide
    sandmanwn , May 6, 2009 2:26 PM
    WHAT HAPPENED TO OCZ DRIVES!!! Did Intel slip some money under the table?
  • -1 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , May 6, 2009 2:28 PM
    xsamittYes but we were told we'd have our avatars back?i don't see them ,do you?

    Jane said there was a chance, but she didn't promise.
  • 0 Hide
    fausto , May 6, 2009 3:16 PM
    there has to be a better way to do this. all i care about is real world performance. these charts are useless.
  • 3 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , May 6, 2009 3:32 PM
    The charts are useless if you don't know what you need. Yes. But they wouldn't be useless to most of us if we could see which model was performing how well. I know what I need to care most about is average read speed on all my drives except the system one, where access time is relevant as well.
  • 3 Hide
    stilespj , May 6, 2009 8:52 PM
    Ditto on the useless chart theme!!!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , May 6, 2009 8:54 PM
    No numbers for Intel power consumption!???? what a joke. C'mon Tom's surely you can do better.
  • 2 Hide
    Area51 , May 6, 2009 9:01 PM
    I don't get two things.
    1. If this is a test bed then shouldn't you be using the fastest CPU available to you? Also I believe the i920 has a 4.8GT/s, so it can be a limiting factor when you are testing other components.
    2. Why are you not including the Intel SSD's They have been around for a while and they are still missing from your SSD charts.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , May 6, 2009 9:01 PM
    No Intel SSD numbers at all! that's got to be the biggest oversight in the history of the universe.
  • 4 Hide
    drumerman , May 7, 2009 3:29 AM
    SSD charts need intel's drives as well as OCZ's vertex drives... these drives aren't that new, they should be listed
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