Today is a big day indeed, not only for those with unhealthy fascinations for dates with identical or symmetrical strings of numbers but also for the masses. To be more precise, it’s an important time for those with more conservative budgets and those who consider value for money as their #1 priority when looking into upgrading, building or buying a computer. Socket T (LGA775), launched in 2004 has been through a lot over the years, featuring a vast number of processors, some of which are incredibly famous for all the right reasons and some for all the wrong reasons but from today, this popular platform will be steadily discontinued. Perhaps it seems a little odd to some that the socket is already being pushed aside as after all, even the best of the Core 2 Quad lineup continue to hold their own in the wide majority of mainstream applications but regardless, stagnation in a market such as this is never a good idea and on that bomb shell we bid LGA775 a farewell and a warm welcome to LGA1156 and it’s new range of Core i5 and i7 processors. Today, we will be testing the leader of the Lynnfield clan… Meet the Core i7 870 processor.
First and foremost, it should be acknowledged that this is not a LGA1366/Intel X58 compatible processor and as of today, the Core i7 exists on two different sockets. One way to spot the difference is to consider the model number, where i7 8xx’s are LGA1156 while i7 9xx’s are LGA1366. So what exactly differentiates the processors on LGA1156 with those on LGA1366?
The first two significant changes are that the Core i5/i7 range on the new socket only supports functionality of memory in Dual Channel mode and the i5’s do not feature Hyperthreading Technology. The new processors also sport integrated PCI-Express controllers, completely ousting the requirement for a separate Northbridge/Southbridge pairing but rather a single chip controller on the motherboard (dubbed P55) which handles the link between Motherboard/CPU as well as I/O devices by means of USB/SATA and so on. So what exactly is the point of this release? The end result is meant to be a platform that offers many of the perks of the exclusive X58 / Core i7 platform but with lower ownership costs thanks to cheaper motherboards and dual channel memory.
This may all seem quite confusing and I would forgive anyone who feels this way. Why Intel did not rename the LGA1156 i7 to i6 perhaps, in order to separate the two CPU's I cannot tell but it is certainly a confusing way of rebranding their lineup. Just when you thought Intel couldn’t baffle their prospective customers any further, Intel will also be releasing two energy efficient version of the i5 and i7 range with the i7-860s and i5-750s. These two processors will be clocked the same as their forbears but will have a lower TDP of 82W instead of the 95w of the earlier models. Expect these CPU's to be released around Q1 2010.
At the top of the pile will be the much anticipated flagship 'Gulftown' i9 processor. Rumors are suggesting that this processor will be compatible with Socket 1366 so everyone who has spent £250+ on an X58 motherboard can breath a huge sigh of relief because thankfully there is still life left in the X58 we all rushed out to buy. Even better is the news that Gulftown will be a 6 core monster with a total thread count of 12 processing two threads simultaneously. With an increase in L3 Cache to a stonking 12MB, the Gulftown will certainly a performance CPU to be reckoned with. Just as AMD seem to be bridging the gap, Intel release what appears to be yet another range of CPU's capable of moving the goal posts once more.
Looking further into the future, Intels 32nm lineup will come in six flavors, all of which will initially be dual core processors with an integrated DX 10 GPU, DDR3 memory controller and a TDP of 73W. The six CPU's will be spread across the Intel range with 2 models found in the i3 range, 3 in the i5 and the final version being part of the now aging Pentium family. Interesting times indeed.
Today, we will be concentrating on the Intel Core i7 - 870 which Intel have kindly supplied for this review.
|Name||Core i7-920||Core i7-870||Core i7-860||Core i7-860s||Core i5-750||Core i5-750s|
|Cache||8MB L3||8MB L3||8MB L3||8MB L3||8MB L3||8MB L3|
|Memory Support||DDR3 1600/1333/1066||DDR3 1333/1066||DDR3 1333/1066||DDR3 1333/1066||DDR3 1333/1066||DDR3 1333/1066|
|Turbo Boost||3.2GHz||3.6GHz||3.46GHz||3.46GHz|| 3.2GHz|| 3.2GHz|
|LGA 1366||LGA 1156||LGA 1156||LGA 1156|| LGA 1156|| LGA 1156|
|Launch Date|| Present|| 8-Sept-09|| 8-Sept-09|| Q1 2010|| 8-Sept-09|| Q1 2010|