The debut of the next generation of Intel processors for desktop systems is expected to happen by the third trimester. The bit-tech website has given this information and specifying how the new generation will not be compatible with LGA 1366 sockets and vice-versa. The recent Intel Core i7 980X CPUs with 6-core architecture will then remain as the fastest and most complex solutions for the LGA 1366 socket, except in case Intel decides to launch some new models with higher clock frequencies.
One of the main peculiarities on the new CPUs would be the usage of a quad-channel DDR3 memory controller, with the increase of bandwidth up to 33%. Each channel will support only one memory module; which will mean that only four modules can be used, and not six like the current LGA 1366 proposals.
There’s still no official information on which processors will adopt this new platform, but perhaps it could be the Sandy Bridge architecture, featuring 8 native cores and capable of processing up to 16 simultaneous threads thanks to the Hyper-Threading technology.
The most important innovation introduced by Intel with the West mere CPU family, together with the integrated GPU, is the 32nm technology. The manufacturing costs are lowered, the energy consumption is better managed and new overclocking margins can be reached. AMD will only have that technology with its Bulldozer microarchitecture, which should take a few months more to be launched. Hence, during 2010, the company will have to keep on working on their Phenom II and Athlon II CPUs to try and contrast Intel’s performance advantages, first confirmed with the launch of the Nehalem solutions and now with the dual-core solutions from the West mere family.
The initial prices for the Core i5 600 series seem to be a little higher than they should for good positioning on the market. The Core i3 solutions offer better prices, due to the lack of Turbo Mode technology, for example. It could be Intel’s choice to push these solutions in the mainstream market instead.
The performance level for the Core i5 661 processor is undoubtedly very high: the dual-core architecture, together with the Hyper-Threading technology, has allowed the processor to be better performing than most dual-core processors, both Intel and AMD, also all the Core 2 Quad solutions in the same price range. The direct comparison, then, could be done with the Core i5 750 processor, a model with quad-core architecture, but not featuring Hyper-Threading, although using the same microarchitecture as the Core i5 661.
In that case, for the same list price ($196), the Core i5 750 CPU turns out to be faster on average, despite an inferior clock frequency (2.66 GHz against 3.33GHz). It’s not surprising, after all: the name of the processor should indicate that the Core i5 750 should be better performing. But the main fact goes beyond the performance; in fact, for the same price, the Core i5 661 CPU also offers the integrated graphic system.
With the 32nm technology and dual-core architecture, the processor should have good overclocking margins, in theory. The Core i5 661 processor used in this review has the default frequency at 3.33 GHz, capable of going up to 3.6 GHz with the Turbo Boost technology-enabled.
Blocking the frequency multiplier at 26 xs, the maximum allowed from the bios, the processor was overclocked up to 4.3 GHz. However, this value was obtained with a small overvolt, a Thermal Take 1156 Silent heatsink (which is quite a heavy heat sink with heat pipes and copper base). So as it can be seen, it’s not an easy overclocking, but doable.
The numbers obtained in this test refer to the whole system consumption, not just the processor. During the idle phase, all the energy savings settings were enabled. During idle, the Core i5 661 model we used for the tests has reached the value of 75 Watts for the entire system, a very low value, in any case, showing that the innovations in the architecture and the presence of two cores have a good impact in this sense.
When in full load, the energy consumption reached 158 Watts, which is also very low when compared to other models.