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Intel's logo for its main line of "i7" Nehalem processors will be blue.

Intel's logo for the "Extreme" edition of the i7 brand will be black.
Intel's "baby" -- its new eight-core chips based on the new Nehalem architecture -- have been named and are almost ready to launch

The impending launch of Intel's Nehalem processor in Q4 2008 already has the hardware community buzzing.  Nehalem has already shaped up to appear quite the performance beast.  With the power of eight logical cores (four physical, doubled by hyper-threading) built on a 45 nm process to leverage, it’s shaping up to be a strong offering. 

The new processor will feature QuickPath, Intel's answer to AMD's HyperTransport, an on-chip memory controller, SSE4 instruction support, and an 8 MB cache pool.  Chips have already been demoed running at 3.2 GHz, so early indications are that Intel has had relatively little process problems.

Now Intel has made an important move towards the eventual release of Nehalem by giving it its official brand name.  The processor will be branded "Intel Core" with an "i7" identifier for the first round of chips.  This brand will include an Extreme Edition at launch according to Intel.  It is also expected to launch to both the desktop and server markets, though the server line may come slightly later than the desktop lineup.  Intel is also cooking up mobile versions of the processor. 

In months following the launch, other products with different identifiers will be announced according to Intel.  Intel says that its focus with the line is to both up the performance over its previous successful dual and quad core offerings.  At the same time it hopes to cut the power usage significantly.

Sean Maloney, Intel Corporation executive vice president and general manager, Sales and Marketing Group says that focusing on the "i7" line is Intel's top priority.  He states, "The Core name is and will be our flagship PC processor brand going forward.  Expect Intel to focus even more marketing resources around that name and the Core i7 products starting now."

Intel will maintain a numbered system similar to its past "Intel Core" offerings to differentiate individual processor models.

Another significant advance for Intel is that all the chip's cores will be on a single piece of silicon.  AMD has been using this method for quite some time, but Intel declined in order to improve yields.  The chip will face off against AMD's upcoming Shanghai processor.

Meanwhile, the Penryn platform, while passing the torch to Nehalem will see a bit of new life of its own, thanks to the Dunnington platform which will place 3 dies for a total of 6 cores in a chip package and target the server market. 

AMD plans to release a six-core version of Shanghai to combat this beast.  A 12-core dual-die package version of Shanghai is thought to be in the works, and Intel is likely considering either a dual-die Nehalem with eight cores or consolidating Dunnington to a single die and releasing a dual-die variant with 12 cores to combat this.

Intel is also focusing significant attention to its upcoming line of discrete graphics processors, code-named Larrabee.

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RE: any explanation to the name?
By SeanMI on 8/11/2008 1:11:06 PM , Rating: 2
But unlike previous quad core processors, it has hyperthreading enabled which presents 2 "virtual" cores per core...yielding 0 through 7.

RE: any explanation to the name?
By HsiKai on 8/11/2008 1:29:00 PM , Rating: 3
Yes, but the dual-core Nehalem processors are also in the i7 series. The octo-core processors will also be i7. They will not be i3 and i15 respectively.

RE: any explanation to the name?
By SeanMI on 8/11/2008 1:55:31 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah yeah, you're right...I thought about that after my first post. I was wondering when someone would mention that :)

I think they should have an i3 and i15 though. Think of it as a new convoluted performance rating system.

RE: any explanation to the name?
By HsiKai on 8/11/2008 2:49:27 PM , Rating: 3
Because the average consumer isn't already inundated with obscure marketing terms and designations already. =)

RE: any explanation to the name?
By PCXLFan on 8/11/2008 6:56:32 PM , Rating: 3
I guess they learned something from the nvidia's marketing strategy, and decided confusing consumers is an excellent strategy.

Wouldn't it be awesome if they muddy the water even more and create letter specifications for each model of the I7 which have even less rhyme and reason?

I7 XT = 2.2ghz, I7 GT = 2.4ghz, I7 YT = 2.6ghz, I7 YTS = 2.8ghz, I7 YR = 3.0ghz, I7 ASS = 3.2ghz w/unlocked multiplier.

RE: any explanation to the name?
By HsiKai on 8/11/2008 7:54:06 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, but I also think they learned not to ever bring up the "Pentium" and especially "Pentium 4" brands ever again and so decided to resume their prior generational sequence without the use of "Pentium" since this is a completely different architecture and has an amazingly positive connotation. Perhaps they will push marketing the actual architecture/steps in their tick-tock cycles rather than making up new names for everything. iX scales much better than "Core 3 Quad/Octo ... Core 4 ... Core 9 ... Core X ... Core XII."

Although ATI's naming convention (of going from the 9000-series to X-YYY) did seem fairly reasonable compared to Nvidia's, as you point out. Or they could just botch the whole system by appending each product with "XXX."

RE: any explanation to the name?
By afkrotch on 8/12/2008 1:49:22 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, because XT, XTX, XTS, X2, Pro, etc weren't confusing either. At least both of them have consolidated their lineup or simply shrunk it (in the case of AMD/ATI).

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