Core i7 GenesisThe Core i7 is Intel's first new CPU architecture since the original Core 2 shipped back in July, 2006. It's hard to believe that the first Core 2 processors shipped over two years ago.
Since then, Intel has shipped incremental updates to the product line. Quad-core Core 2 CPUs arrived in November 2006, in the form of the QX6700. AMD was quick to point out that Intel's quad-core solutions weren't "true" quad-core processors, but consisted of two Core 2 Duo dies in a single package. Despite that purist objection, Intel's quad-core solutions proved highly successful in the market.
The original Core 2 line was built on a 65nm manufacturing process. In late 2007, Intel began shipping 45nm CPUs, code-named Penryn. Intel's 45nm processors offered a few incremental feature updates, but were basically continuations of the Core 2 line.
In the past year, details about Nehalem began dribbling out, culminating with full disclosure of the Core i7 architecture at the August, 2008 Intel Developer Forum. If you want more details about Nehalem's architecture, that article is well worth a read. However, we'll touch on a few highlights now.
Cache and Memory
The initial Core i7 CPUs will offer a three-tiered cache structure. Each individual core contains two caches: a 64K L1 cache (split into a 32K instruction cache and a 32K data cache), plus a 256K unified L2 cache. An 8MB L3 cache is shared among the four cores. That 256K L2 cache is interesting, because it's built with an 8-T (eight transistors per cell) SRAM structure. This facilitates running at lower voltages, but also takes up more die space. That's one reason the core-specific L2 cache is smaller than you might otherwise expect.
Like AMD's current CPU line, Nehalem uses an integrated, on-die memory controller. Intel has finally moved the memory controller out of the north bridge. The current memory controller supports only DDR3 memory. The new controller also supports three channels of DDR3 per socket, with up to three DIMMs per channel supported. Earlier, MCH-style memory controllers only supported two channels of DRAM.
The use of triple-channel memory mitigates the relatively low, officially supported DDR3 clock rate of 1066MHz (effective.) In conversations with various Intel representatives, they were quick to point out that three channels of DDR3-1066 equates to 30GB/sec of memory bandwidth
The integrated memory controller also clocks higher than one built into a north bridge chip, although not necessarily at the full processor clock speed. This higher clock, plus the lack of having to communicate over a north bridge link, substantially improves memory latency.
To facilitate the integrated memory controller, Intel developed a new, point-to-point system connect, similar in concept to AMD's HyperTransport. Known as QuickPath Interconnect or QPI for short, the new interconnect can move data at peak rates of 25GB/sec (at a 6.4 gigatranfers per second base). Note that not all Nehalem processors will support the full theoretical bandwidth. The Core i7 940 and 920 CPUs support the 4.8 gigatransfer per second base rate, with a maximum throughput of 19.2GB/sec per channel. That's still more than enough bandwidth for three DDR3-1066 memory channels
source : www.extremetech.com