updated 07:35 am EDT, Tue September 8, 2009
Intel Lynnfield Official
Intel today brought its most recent chip architecture into the mainstream with the official start to Lynnfield, its lower-cost but also more advanced desktop platform. The design is headlined by updated Core i7 and new Core i5 processors that build not only the memory controller but also a 16X PCI Express interface directly into the processor die, leaving just a single chip on the mainboard to control the remaining PCI Express slots and other mainboard duties. The gesture cuts lag in talking directly to graphics hardware and reduces the footprint of the system.
The Core i7 parts are headlined by the 2.8GHz i7 860 and 2.93GHz i7 870, both of which are quad-core models with 8MB of Level 2 cache but which use Hyperthreading to handle as many as eight program tasks at once. Core i5 starts with just one model, the 2.66GHz i5 750, but differs only in the absence of Hyperthreading. All three consume 95W of peak thermal power and will be available today in pre-configured systems as well as in stand-alone mainboards and processors. Bulk prices sit at $284 and $562 for the 2.8GHz and 2.93GHz Core i7 chips while the lone Core i5 will cost $196 in those quantities; actual upgrade prices are higher.
Lynnfield is also arriving in the workstation and server fields through the Xeon 3400 series. Like earlier Xeon processors, these add support for error-corrected memory and better support for RAID. They include four quad-core, eight-thread Xeons at 2.53GHz, 2.66GHz, 2.8GHz and 2.93GHz; a 2.4GHz model is limited to four threads, and a low-power 1.86GHz version that has the full feature set of the higher-end models but uses just 45W of power (versus 95W).
Cost is an important factor for the 3400 line, which at the high end ranges between $215 and $589 in large quantities; the 2.4GHz chip costs $189, and the low-power technology boosts the price of the 1.86GHz hardware to $284. These are also ready today but more likely to ship first in servers and workstations.
A mobile equivalent to Lynnfield, known as Clarksfield, is expected in the near future but will primarily be intended for desktop replacement notebooks. Truly mobile, dual-core parts under the Arrandale codename aren't expected until early 2010.