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Nehalem's new Turbo Mode is similar to the 386's turbo button, in that it provides more power to the CPU. On a whole, it saves power and delivers superior performance in single and dual core applications.  (Source: Techgage)

Intel's new on-die memory controller features three channels, and appears to be working superbly as it more than triples Penryn's bandwidth. The final picture should become clear with latency information arrives.  (Source: Techgage)
There's a lot of new stuff going under the hood of Intel's upcoming "Nehalem" processor

Intel's plans for the next four years were leaked a bit prematurely before its Intel Developers Forum (IDF) this month.  Now with the IDF in full swing, Intel is releasing many more interesting details on the upcoming processor that is on top of its list -- Nehalem.

Formally known as the Intel Core i7, Nehalem features eight logical cores, the return of HyperThreading, on die memory support, QuickPath, and more.  It will launch later in 2008.

One interesting revelation which Intel left off with was that it would probably release its notebook processors at almost the same time as its desktop variants, unlike with its Penryn processors.  It expects many of the power-saving technologies found in Nehalem to be very useful in preserving laptop battery life.

The first intriguing technical detail of Nehalem according to Techgage is the new "Turbo Mode".  Similar to the Turbo button of 386 days of yore, the turbo functionality will up the power to the CPU.  Overall performance will be reduced in Nehalem to save power.  For example, three cores of a four-core Nehalem processor could be turned off while a system is idle. More power can be transferred to that single core as well when performing simple operations that don’t require four cores blazing away.

However, if more CPU power is needed, power can be distributed to the remaining cores.  Turbo Mode can be turned off in the BIOS and does not replace traditional overclocking.

Also discussed was Intel's new on-chip memory controller.  It uses three channels in an unusual approach.  The approach is apparently paying off as memory bandwidth with its QuickPath Interface (QPI) is up to 25.6 GB/s, almost 3.5x the performance of current gen memory.  Unfortunately, Intel refused to divulge latency information, so the memory picture is still incomplete, though it’s looking bright on the bandwidth side of things.

As Nehalem samples have been show capable of working with even the highest end DDR3, DDR3-2000, many are now beginning to wonder whether such high speeds will even be necessary given the massive bandwidth.  Some are speculating that Nehalem's impressive memory performance will spell death for the high end memory market, already hurt by sinking prices.

It’s hard to say whether this will happen as increasingly there will be scenarios that call for massive memory use.  Intel is making big claims about its bandwidth, however.  According to Intel one stick of DDR3 on and Intel X58 motherboard with a Nehalem nearly equals the bandwidth of a dual-channel DDR3 configuration with a Penryn processor.  Nonetheless, memory manufacturers are planning to release 3 GB DDR3 kits to coincide with Nehalem for 32-bit OS's and 6 GB and 12 GB kits for 64-bit OS's.

While IDF attendees were sworn to secrecy on performance specifics, they did say that the overall performance shows good gains, similar to the Penryn.  They say that HyperThreading features few surprises and aside from some minor improvements is virtually identical to that used in the Pentium 4.

In conclusion, there are a few new juicy details on Nehalem, but in the end even more questions.  Fortunately answers will be coming in a few short months.  With AMD's Shanghai set to compete with Nehalem, perhaps the most interesting question of all is when will Nehalem's competitor materialize.

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RE: Turbo
By Sulphademus on 8/20/2008 3:10:22 PM , Rating: 3
While I like the idea of a hardware switch to toggle performance modes, I hate the name. Turbo just sounds sooo... juvenile, like red flame decals make it go faster too. Perhaps something like "Performance Mode" (assuming low power is default) or "Power Saver" (if full throttle is default).

It would be very nice if this could downclock/upclock my graphics card as well.

RE: Turbo
By Schrag4 on 8/20/2008 4:05:50 PM , Rating: 2
The button on the front of the case will toggle between 'Performance Mode' and 'Tree-Hugging Mode'

Sorry, couldn't resist. Seriously, though, if the CPU has a Turbo Mode, the user should be able to turn it on, and leave it on, if he or she likes. I also think software should be smart enought to kick it on and off when needed, which would be fine most of the time. However, sometimes I get a little impatient with my machine and would like to know that it's not slowing down in the name of power efficiency.

I know this sounds ridiculous, but perhaps instead of a button on the case, there would be a timer that you would set. That way if you know you're going to bed in an hour, you can just set the timer for an hour, and know that it will be in turbo mode while you're still up, and not in turbo mode while you're asleep.

I got the idea from a house that my wife and I were considering buying. It had timers on the shower fans (up to 30 min). I can't tell you how much electricity that would save in our house if we had these, between running the fan (not much electricity) and running the air-conditioning to make up for all the cool air we just accidentally pumped outside for the last 2 hours!!!! I've been meaning to get these for our house but our local Home Depot doesn't have them, and I've simply forgotten all about it since I looked.

RE: Turbo
By MrBlastman on 8/20/2008 4:40:05 PM , Rating: 2
The new Nvidia cards (200x series) downclock automatically when not running 3d applications to save power.

RE: Turbo
By MrBlastman on 8/21/2008 10:28:21 AM , Rating: 2
I love getting downrated for a factual comment.

My EVGA Precision tool shows it being downclocked clear as day. What more is there to dispute?

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh

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