Intel's forthcoming Nehalem chips are set to be the fastest processors yet, according to the latest benchmark results.
Available later this month, the first Nehalem parts are quad-core desktop chips bearing the Core i7 brand - the 3.2GHz Core i7 965 Extreme Edition, 2.93GHz Core i7 940 and the 2.66GHz Core i7 920.
In tests conducted by vnunet.com's sister title Personal Computer World the Core i7 965 Extreme achieved a PCMark05 CPU score of 11072. This is about 7.5 per cent higher than the previous high score of 10311 for a non-overclocked chip by an Intel QX9770 at the same 3.2GHz clock speed.
However, a greater increase was found in tests that measure multi-threaded performance. The Core i7 scored 16202 against the older chip's 12544, almost a 30 per cent improvement.
Styled by Intel as "the biggest platform architecture change in a decade", Nehalem features a modular design that scales from two to eight cores per chip, enabling it to target everything from mobile devices to enterprise servers. Versions of the design targeting the mobile and server segments are due in 2009.
Nehalem also ditches the old system bus architecture in favour of memory connected directly to each processor chip, with a high-speed QuickPath Interconnect to link multiple Nehalem chips together and to the rest of the system.
However, Intel will not have everything its own way. Rival AMD is poised to introduce an update to its quad-core processors codenamed Shanghai.
Built using a 45nm production process like Nehalem, Shanghai will primarily target servers, a market in which AMD has perhaps had its greatest success in gaining market share.
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