Nehalem-based processors for desktops were launched last year under the Core i7 brand.
Intel claims that in addition to offering significantly higher level of performance than the processors that they replace, the Nehalem systems will consume up to 20 per cent less energy.
The architecture boasts the following features:
- Integrated memory controller supporting two or three memory channels of DDR3 SDRAM or four FB-DIMM channels.
- Integrated graphics processor (IGP) located off-die, but in the same CPU package.
- A new point-to-point processor interconnect, the Intel QuickPath Interconnect, replacing the legacy front side bus.
- Simultaneous multithreading (SMT) by multiple cores and hyperthreading, which enables two threads per core.
- Turbo Boost which allows the operating system to request more performance, and if the chip is within its thermal power constraints, it can ramp up the clock speed for each individual core.
- Improved virtualization performance
This appears to be one of the most significant releases of an x86 architecture processor in the last several years.
The new processor interconnect (QPI) in and of itself in rectifies a long standing architectural weakness in Intel processors.
OpenSolaris and Solaris have already been optimized for the Nehalem and provide good examples of the improvements enabled by this new architecture.
I guess it is safe to declare that my current desktop dream machine is the new Nehalem-based Mac Pro.