Intel Set to Launch Nehalem Nov. 17

Intel will launch the next-generation Nehalem processor on Nov. 17, the company revealed Wednesday.

In an event invitation, Intel said it will unveil Core i7, the first processor of the Nehalem family, which is targeted at high-end desktops.

Test units of the Core i7 chips have already been shipped, with Web sites such as Tom's Hardware and PC Perspective praising its speedy performance. The Core i7 chip speeds range from 2.66GHz to 3.20GHz, according to retail Web sites.

Chips based on the Nehalem microarchitecture will go into some systems priced at under US$1,000 at launch, said a source familiar with Intel's plans.

The Core i7 920 quad-core chip running at 2.66GHz is priced at $329.99 at Isorm, an online retailer. The Core i7 940 running at 2.93GHz is selling for $639.99, while the Core i7 965 Extreme Edition running at 3.2GHz is priced at $1,149.99. The 940 and 965 also are quad-core chips.

Nehalem chips are an upgrade from Intel's Core 2 chips, which are currently used in laptops and desktops. The chip technology cuts bottlenecks of Intel's earlier Core microarchitecture to improve system speed and performance-per-watt. The chips will later be scaled down for consumer desktops and laptops, and should be released in 2009.

Nehalem chips, with two to eight cores, will include QuickPath Interconnect (QPI) technology, which integrates a memory controller and provides a faster pipe for the CPU to communicate with system components, Intel has said. Each core can execute two software threads simultaneously, so a desktop with four processor cores could run applications quicker by running eight threads simultaneously.

Down the line, Intel will be integrating graphics capabilities in Nehalem CPUs, which could cut down the need for an external graphics card and bring more power efficiency to desktops and laptops. High-end users, like gamers, might need a separate graphics card to meet their graphics needs.

Nehalem chips are manufactured using the 45-nanometer process, which is also used to make the company's latest chips.

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