Today Intel has released their next generation of mobile performance platforms designed with gamers and multimedia enthusiasts in mind. The new platform consists of an Intel Core i7 ‘Clarksfield’ mobile processor and the new Intel PM55 Express chipset. The result is a laptop platform that will leave any desktop more than a few years old running for cover!
Based on the current 45nm Nehalem micro-architecture, the Intel Core i7 mobile lineup consists of three processors. The flagship mobile processor is the Core i7-920XM Extreme Edition followed by the mainstream Core i7-820QM and Core i7-720QM. The new platform brings the two-chip design to laptops which will increase efficiency when compared to the three-chip design of the Penryn-based mobile platform. With the memory controller now on the CPU and IO controlled by the PM55 Express chipset, we should see the mobile market catch up with the desktop market in terms of performance!
Speaking of performance, all three of Intel’s Core i7 mobile processors being introduced today are quad core CPUs with hyper-threading enabled. The 920XM and 820QM have 8MB of onboard shared cache while the 720QM has 6MB. Any one of these mobile processors should not disappoint when it comes to raw processing power. Take note that the Core i7 Extreme Edition 920XM has overclocking enabled while the others will only be controlled by the Intel Turbo Boost Technology.
Here we see the new key features being brought to the new Core i7 mobile processors. An integrated memory controller, Hyper-Threading, Turbo Boost and DDR3 are just a few of the key features. Also worth noting is the max TDP of these processors. The 820QM and 720QM have a max TDP of 45W while the flagship 920XM has a max TDP of 55W in order to get that extra boost!
Intel Turbo Boost Technology dynamically controls the frequency of the Core i7 mobile processor in order to seamlessly provide you the performance you need when you need it. This includes automatically overclocking the processor for those CPU intensive tasks. At the same time, it can decrease the frequency to save power when you don’t need it.
To further explain Intel’s Turbo Boost Technology on the Core i7 mobile processors, Intel provides this example of how the CPU will automatically combine turbo performance with disabling cores depending on how many threads you are actually using. So with the Core i7-920XM, the CPU will automatically overclock up to 2.26 GHz (up from the base frequency of 2.0 GHz) when you are using all 4 cores. It will then overclock up to 3.06 GHz when using two cores, and all the way up to 3.20 GHz when just using a single core. This is how the Core i7-920XM maintains a max TDP of 55W; by using the power saved by disabling unused cores to boost the frequency of the cores in use, the new i7 mobile processors will put the performance where you need it!
Intel also offers a widget for Windows Vista or Windows 7 (32 or 64 bit) to display the current frequency of your processor. We found that the widget was a little slower to respond to the frequency change when compared to CPU-Z, but it is still useful to get an idea what stage your CPU is currently in.
The Intel PM55 Express chipset offers up to 8 PCI Express 2.0 x1 ports for multiple card configurations. RAID via Intel’s Matrix Storage Technology will be nice with hard drive prices continuously dropping! Up to 6 SATA connections will be great as external SATA continues to get off the ground. 14 USB ports may seem like overkill, but these can be used for additional features by notebook manufacturers.
Here we get another break down of the three new Core i7 mobile processors and can see how each base clock speed compares to the max Turbo frequency when just one core is enabled. The important information on this page is the cost per unit based on 1000 units. Showing the price at $1054 for the flagship Core i7-920XM, it seems this CPU will be reserved for the extreme enthusiasts! It will be interesting to see the price point of complete systems once they hit the market.
Intel has provided us a whitebook system featuring the highly anticipated Clevo W870CU. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the new Intel mobile platform surrounding the Core i7 mobile processor!