Almost a year has passed since Intel launched their new Nehalem processors. However, we can’t claim that these CPUs have become very popular among computer users since then. Although Nehalem processors do provide higher performance than the Core 2 generation solutions, they didn’t enjoy very high demand. Even according to statistics from the CPU-Z utility database, which many enthusiasts refer to, the share of computer systems built around Core i7 CPUs is currently only a little over 10%.
The reasons for this relatively weak public interest towards Core i7 CPUs is pretty clear: they are extremely expensive and use their own LGA1366 platform including special mainboards and DDR3 SDRAM, which ends up being just as substantial investment as the CPU itself. However, Intel hasn’t been too upset about Nehalem processors being not very popular among individual computer enthusiasts so far. The company’s primary goal at this point was strengthening their positions in the server market. And this CPU turned out an excellent solution in the multi-processor segment. The new QPI bus with point-to-point topology connecting processors with one another as well as the memory controller integrated into each CPU become those essential components that put the performance of Nehalem based server solutions on a new quality level. As for the desktop users, they can’t really feel the effect of all these advantages that is the server processor for desktop applications represented by Core i7 has not yet become a sales hit.
However, the previous Core 2 processor generation continued to maintain its desktop market share outperforming the competitor’s solutions and offering quite sufficient performance for typical user tasks even after Nehalem launch. Only now things started changing a little: AMD has finally mastered 45 nm manufacturing technology, which allowed them to start mass production of Phenom II CPUs capable of competing against Core 2 in performance (with a certain proviso). Of course, Intel wasn’t too happy about it that is why they chose to offer a dramatic refresh of their mainstream platform this fall. This is in fact a pretty logical refresh that is why it was quite predictable as well: starting today processors on Nehalem microarchitecture will be used not only in high-end systems, but also in mainstream platforms. Moreover, Intel doesn’t seem to be concerned about the high price of the LGA1366 platform at all, because they are going to upgrade the mainstream segment with a new LGA1156 socket, new chipset and new mainboards. All these new hardware components should become more affordable for the mainstream user community due to slight architectural modifications in processors and systems. So, our today’s article is going to talk about the new platform composed of these hardware components.