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Triple Channel

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takeMS Tri-Channel DDR3 MemoryThe German company takeMS has now released their JEDEC-compliant triple channel DDR3 memory kits for the Intel Core i7 processors.  The RAM requires 1.5v for memory voltage, and tops out at 1333Mhz.  An entry-level version providing 1066MHz speed is also available.  Both variations are being offered in 3GB and 6GB kits.

takeMS International’s memory kits require a minimal power drain, which helps to reduce the energy consumption of the entire CPU and also alleviate some of the stress on the memory controller. As most will know from an earlier Core i7 article, unless the BIOS setting is changed, Core i7 processors automatically clock down once a temperate/power draw/TDP threshold is reached.  Since the TakeMS memory modules run at 1.5v for energy consumption, takeMS customers may be able to overclock their computers more than those using 1.65v or higher DDR3 modules (or equal speed).

Although OCZ, Corsair, Patriot, G.Skill, Gingle, and Kingston all have released their DDR3 modules earlier than takeMS, don’t count them out of the game. The takeMS DDR3 modules are definitely a top contender in the memory module industry. takeMS focuses on high quality standards and a reasonable price to performance ratio, and the company offers a 10 year warranty on its memory modules to back it up.  The element that really makes the modules stand out, though, is the low voltage requirement, which will be quite interesting to many buyers.
 

Introduction

The technology industry and enthusiasts alike are buzzing about the soon-to-be-released Core i7 CPUs from Intel.  Discussions are abundant for questions like “should I upgrade my computer?”  After all, the Intel Core i7 processors promise unparalleled efficiency and performance.

Mostly, enthusiasts are dying to find out how well their applications and benchmarks run on this next generation technology. Having a new generation CPU also means that other parts of the computer (i.e. the motherboard and RAM) also have to be upgraded.  Already, motherboard and memory manufacturers have announced X58 motherboard and triple channel DDR3 memory kits that are compatible with Intel Core i7 processors.

Fortunately, enthusiasts do not have to speculate any longer. Intel has sent pre-release samples of the entire Core i7 systems to respected technology websites for review. State of the art applications are used to run tests on the performance of a Core i7 system. The results are rather exciting, as you will soon see.

Intel Core i7 CPU

Intel Core i7 CPUThe code name for the Intel Core i7 is Nehalem. The primary goal of the Nehalem technology is scalability. Intel engineers have taken great pains to design the Intel Core i7 processors for scalability and ensure that the processors dynamically manage many of the core functions, such as cache, threads, and interfaces. In other words, you can expect to see different versions of the Core i7 processor for different types of computers. For example, there will be one version for laptops, a version for servers, another for personal desktops, and so on. This is done to enable various price points, performance, etc. for the needs of different users and requirements, and facilitate the utilization of processing power most efficiently.

The Nehalem micro architecture includes many prominent features that will enhance performance. The entire architecture dynamically manages cores, threads, interfaces, and power. The new architecture also allows running two threads simultaneously per core. That means a quad-core processor is capable of running up to eight threads simultaneously. New extensions are applied to Intel Streaming SMID that focus on improving string, XML, and text processing. The architecture also boasts a superior shared L3 cache. The high-end design delivers up to two or three times more peak bandwidth, and up to four times realized bandwidth when compared with Core 2 or Intel Xeon processors.

Intel Core i7

The Intel Core i7 will debut in three editions: Core i7-965, Core i7-940, and Core i7-920. The clock speeds, in GHz, are 3.20, 2.93, and 2.66 respectively. All three editions have 8MB of cache each. All three processors have recorded idle temperatures of around the 40 degrees range (Celsius), and load temperatures going into the 50-60 degrees range (depending on the configuration) at stock speeds and cooling. All of the processor models use Intel’s Quickpath Interconnect technology, which means that motherboards have to be upgraded along with the processors.

Intel Core i7 Processor Series Key Features & Specifications

 

  Intel Core i7 965
Extreme Edition
Intel Core i7 940 1 Intel Core i7 920
Clock Speed 3.2 GHz 2.93 GHz 2.66 GHz
QPI Speed (GT/s) 6.4 4.8 4.8
CPU Socket 1366 1366 1366
Shared L3 Cache 8 MB 8 MB 8 MB
Memory DDR3 Triple Channel DDR3 Triple Channel DDR3 Triple Channel
TDP 130 Watts 130 Watts 130 Watts
Overspeed Protection Removed Enforced Enforced
Architecture New Intel 45 nm
Nehalem
New Intel 45 nm
Nehalem
New Intel 45 nm
Nehalem
Quad Core Yes Yes Yes
Key Platform Features
  • Intel Hyper-Threading Technology 8-threaded performance on 4 cores
  • Intel Turbo Boost Technology
  • 8M Shared Intel Smart Cache
  • Integrated Memory Controller with support for 3 channels of DDR3 memory
  • Intel QuickPath interconnect to Intel X58 Express Chipset

 

Intel DX58SO Motherboard

Intel DX58SO MotherboardBottle necks slow down performance. This happens when the processor, or one of its core, is unable to fetch data or instructions fast enough. The memory of the computer system is particularly important because of the amount of data that is passed through it as the system receives instructions from the applications. Theoretically speaking, this means that the faster a processor receives data from memory, the better the performance.

Traditionally, processors have been connected to the memory of a computer via an external bi-directional front-side bus (FSB). This bus served as the central connection point between the processors, the chipset that contains the memory controller hub, and all the other buses such as PCI, AGP, etc.

Intel engineers know that having more powerful processors means that the architecture must also be upgraded to ensure that data flows more quickly between all the different components, and thus the Quickpath Interconnect was created.

The most notable element of the Quickpath architecture is that the memory controller is now integrated into each microprocessor. Each processor has a dedicated memory controller. In the event that a processor needs to access data from the dedicated memory of another core, it can do so through a high speed connection. This allows the cores to get data from memory controllers directly, and connection with other components of the system is also greatly enhanced. The technology is named Quickpath Interconnect because that is precisely what it offers: high speed connection between all the components.

For this reason, the Core i7 processors can only be used on motherboards that support Quickpath Interconnect. The Intel DX58SO is one such example.

The Intel DX58SO motherboard (codename “Smackover”) consists of the Intel X58 Express chipset with ICH10R south bridge chip. The ICH offers support for all the other devices such as video and audio. All buses and components operate on a 133.33 MHz base clock. In other words, a multiplier is applied to the base clock to acquire a speed value. There are four multipliers on the motherboard that affects the overall system speed. They are the CPU speed, the memory speed, the Quickpath Interconnect (QPI) speed, and the uncore speed. The first three are dedicated to overclocking.  Uncore speed is the multiplier that is applied to devices that do not draw power from the processor. Together, these four multipliers manage the overall system performance.

Intel DX58SOBesides support for the Core i7 processors (it supports all three editions), the DX58SO also offers other features, including integrated Intel audio, improved graphics performance, and the PCI Express 2.0 interface that delivers up to 16GB/s bandwidth per port.

As all data and applications are stored on a systems hard drive, it is of utmost importance that the system is able to draw data from the drives very quickly. This is achieved through six SATA ports with transfer speeds of up to 3GB/s. For external storage devices, eSATA is available to help achieve the same performance.

With the DX58SO motherboard, Intel actually emphasizes system stability significantly. For example, the motherboard features an exclusive fault tolerant BIOS that virtually eliminates downtime due to a corrupted BIOS.

The new features certainly promise highly enhanced performance. However, how does the Core i7 perform under stringent hardware tests?

Test Results

Testing has been performed on four separate systems. The first three systems are the three editions of Core i7 processors. They are mounted on the DX58SO motherboard. The last system is the Intel X3350 processor (overclocked to 3.2 GHz), mounted on an ASUS P5E3 motherboard.

All 4 systems were put through a series of benchmarking tests using leading diagnostic/testing applications such as 3DMark system test, SANDRA 2009 system test, Everest Ultimate system test, POV Ray, SuperPi, WinRAR, Crysis, and World in Conflict tests. The results from so many tests reveal almost everything that enthusiasts would want to know about how the Core processors fare when compared to the X3350 overclocked processor. Performance values are obtained for CPU, memory, and storage system tests, single and quad-core rendering tests, and graphics performance tests (DirectX).

The CPU system tests reveal that the Core i7 processors outperform the X3350 processor by as much as 40%. The difference is even more dramatic for the memory tests. Memory bandwidth was shown to be over 100% higher (more than double) for all three editions of the Core i7 processor. Compared to the X3350 system, which uses external memory controllers, the direct memory controllers on the Core i7-based systems certainly works much better. 

The 3DMark scores are usually used by gamers to gauge how efficient a system performs when running a 3D game. There are two scores – one for the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) and one for the CPU. The GPU scores showed very little differences, as the graphics card used on all systems is the same. As the graphics processing was offloaded to the GPU while the tests were ran, the results are rather predictable. However, the CPU reflects slight differences that fall between the range of 5% to 10%, with the highest end Core i7 processor having the highest score.

The SuperPi scores are used by overclockers and enthusiasts all over the world to benchmark and test the stability of an overclocked system. The assumption is that if a system can successfully compute PI values for up to the 32 millionth decimal place without error, it is moderately stable in terms of RAM and CPU. Tests done on 1M, 2M, and 4M calculations all show that the highest end Core i7 processor produces the best performance. The X3350 processor loses out to the Core i7 920 by a small margin.

Conclusion

Whether you are a hardcore 3D gamer, a professional graphics artist, or an overclocker, the information will help you make better buying decisions. After all, the additional power from the Core i7 processors is meant to provide significant value for the consumer.

3D applications, audio, and video software definitely perform much better on Core i7 based systems. The new architecture is also more stable compared to traditional configurations. Traditionally, graphics and video editing is very time-intensive as the system must process a great deal of data from activities such as panning, zooming, and adding special effects.  With higher performance hardware, the editing process can proceed more smoothly and requires less time. The latest edition of the immensely popular image and video software suite, Adobe CS4 from software giant Adobe Systems, has already announced that their software is now compatible with the latest Core i7 based systems.  Pegasys Inc.’s TMPGEnc also utilizes the threading capabilities of the processor very well.

Ultimately, the buying decision depends on one’s personal needs and preferences. The suggested retail price for Core i7 processors is as follows: $999.00 for Core i7-965, $562.00 for Core i7-940, and $299.00 for Core i7-920. For professionals and gamers who run a lot of resource intensive applications, the higher end models will be highly desirable. For typical consumers looking to upgrade for improved performance, anything better than the Core i7-920 may be overkill.

ASUS P6T Deluxe X58 Motherboard for Core i7 ProcessorsASUS offers another option for enthusiasts with an eye on the new Core i7 processors, the ASUS P6T Deluxe OC Palm Edition motherboard. It is marketed as a fully loaded 1366 motherboard that offers unique features not found on other competing boards.  Features include a small 2.5" LCD display that provides overclocking options, three PCI express slots, and support for NVIDIA SLI multi-GPU technology. The high-end motherboard has a lot of competition, though, including the Intel DX58SO, MSI Eclipse, Foxconn Renaissance, and EVGA’s X58 SLI motherboard, as well as ASUS’ own Rampage II Extreme X58 motherboard. Enthusiasts will be interested to know how the fares when compared in terms of features, performance, and price.

The first distinct difference is the 2.5 inch LCD monitor. This is an exclusive device that can be plugged into the motherboard through any available USB port. It displays overclocking options and vital system information such as CPU temperature, fan speeds, etc. The user can easily monitor system performance, and take action should a problem arise (e.g. temperature rising to unstable/unacceptable levels). A Yahoo! Widget can also be used to access the data.

The ASUS P6T has three PCI Express 2.0 slots. The first two slots will run at x16 speed. If the second slot is set to x8 speed, the third slot can also run at x8 speed. This gives the user more flexibility for the hardware that can be used. Obviously, if you only need to use two slots (e.g. installing two graphics cards), both will run at x16 speed. In addition, a x4 speed PCI slot and two regular PCI slots are provided.

ASUS P6T Deluxe OC Palm Edition Motherboard

Another key feature of the ASUS P6T motherboard is the inclusion of SLI support.  This is a strategic business move on the part of ASUS, since NVIDIA charges a royalty fee per motherboard sold to manufacturers that offer support for SLI.  It is not supported by all manufacturers for this reason.

Memory wise, the board offers six physical slots, separated into two different colors. To achieve maximum efficiency, only three or six memory modules should be installed. If only 3 modules are installed, the same color slots should be used. In total, you can install up to 12GB of memory on the ASUS board.

Overall, the ASUS P6T compares very favorably to other options in many ways.  While it doesn’t offer the four PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots or fourteen USB 2.0 ports of the Foxconn Renaissance motherboard, the ASUS P6T is an excellent option due to the extras assuming it includes all the functionality you require.

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Gingle Triple-channel DDR3 Memory Kits for Intel Core i7 ProcessorsGingle has announced the launch of its triple-channel DDR3 memory kits for Intel Core i7 processors. Gingle’s new RAM modules are available in 3 GB (1 GB x 3) and 6 GB (2 GB x 3) variations as well as 1600MHz and 1800MHz speeds.  All variations share the same stock timings (8-8-8-24).  While Gingle’s 16000MHz memory requires 1.65v, it is interesting that Gingle’s 1800MHz modules do not conform to Intel’s recommended voltage, with a 1.8v requirement.  Pricing information has not yet been made public, but it is sure to follow soon.

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Kingston HyperX PC3-16000 (2GHz) Triple Channel DDR3 Memory KitKingston has now launched their HyperX triple channel kits for the Core i7/X58 platform. 3GB kits will be available first, with their 6GB counterparts following shortly after.  Speeds range from 1375MHz to 2000MHz with the new memory.  The RAM provides full Intel XMP (Extreme Memory Profile) support, and conforms to Intel’s 1.65 volt recommendation for the Core i7 platform.

The memory will be available in the below models:

Model # Specification Price
KHX16000D3K3/3GX 3GB 2000MHz (CL9-9-9-27 @ 1.65v) Kit of 3 Optimized for XMP $334.00
KHX14900D3K3/3GX 3GB 1866MHz (CL9-9-9-27 @ 1.65v) Kit of 3 Optimized for XMP $317.00
KHX14400D3K3/3GX 3GB 1800MHz (CL9-9-9-27 @ 1.65v) Kit of 3 Optimized for XMP $312.00
KHX12800D3LLK3/3GX 3GB 1600MHz (CL8-8-8-24 @ 1.65v) Kit of 3 Optimized for XMP $285.00
KHX11000D3LLK3/3GX 3GB 1375MHz (CL7-7-7-20 @ 1.65v) Kit of 3 Optimized for XMP $192.00
KVR1333D3N9K3/6G 6GB 1333MHz (CL9-9-9 @ 1.5v) ValueRAM Kit $240.00
KVR1333D3N9K3/3G 3GB 1333MHz (CL9-9-9 @ 1.5v) ValueRAM Kit $132.00
KVR1066D3N7K3/6G 6GB 1066MHz (CL7-7-7 @ 1.5v) ValueRAM Kit $240.00
KVR1066D3N7K3/3G 3GB 1066MHz (CL7-7-7 @ 1.5v) ValueRAM Kit $132.00

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G.Skill DDR3 Triple Channel RAMFollowing in the footsteps of the rest of the memory manufacturers, G.Skill Taiwan has today released its triple channel DDR3 memory kits designed for the next generation Intel Core i7 platform. G.Skill’s offerings of DDR3 performance RAM includes 3GB and 6GB triple-channel memory kits with DDR3 1333MHz and 1600MHz for enthusiasts, overclockers, gamers, and early-adopters. The company states that the G.SKILL Triple channel kits (9-9-9-24 timings) are perfectly tuned to match the new Intel Core i7 processors and X58 Express chipset to provide optimal performance, cool operation, and reliability.  The kits all feature the G.Skill NQ Series heatspreaders. Each kit is certified to be of the highest quality, compatibility, and reliability due to the comprehensive, 100% hand-tested procedure followed for all G.SKILL triple channel kits.  Pricing and availability details have not yet been announced, but they will surely be available soon since the Nehalem processor release date is quickly approaching.

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MSI X58 Eclipse MotherboardThe MSI X58 Eclipse motherboard is the next up for Intel’s Core i7 (Nehalem) processors.  As with all LGA1366 X58 motherboards, it fully supports up to 24GB of triple channel, DDR3 RAM.  The motherboard also boasts APS (Active Phase Switching), Drive Booster, and D-LED 2 (which displays debug messages during boot and system status messages during operation).

As we noted in the MSI P45 Diamond motherboard review, MSI has discontinued use of the circu-pipe heatsink in favor of a more traditional cooling solution.  The layout of the MSI X58 Eclipse motherboard is quite impressive, with all slots and ports being easily accessible.

The Eclipse includes MSI’s DrMOS QPI and chipset, IC 6-phase power system for the QPI, chipset, and memory, as well as a generous array of Japanese-made, solid aluminum capped capacitors, shielded chokes, and ten Hi-C capacitors for the CPU region (six for the CPU, two for the northbridge, and two for the QuickPath memory controller).  The GreenPower Genie is also implemented to offer more efficient power usage and a reduction of acoustic noise.  Flexible temperature sensors are in place to measure heat anywhere in the system.

As with the P45 Diamond, audio is offered in the form of a PCIe x1 based Creative X-FI controller (removable card) that supports EAX 5.0, 8-channel output, and 100dB SNR with a 24-bit / 96KHz range.

The MSI PCI/PCI Express slot placement is excellent.  Three PCIe 2.0 x16 slots, two PCIe x1 slots, and two PCI slots are available.  Crossfire and SLI are both supported.

Extensive storage options are provided, including ten SATA (Intel ICH10R and JMicron JMB322) and two eSATA (JMicron JMB363) ports.

Power, reset, and DLED2 on/off switches are provided, as well as a dip-switch for adjusting base clock speeds between 133, 166, and 200 MHz during POST. The board also offers a few LED status indicators for QPI phase status, standby mode, etc.

Eight of the twelve total USB 2.0 ports are exposed through the I/O panel, and it also provides access to an IEEE 1394a port, two RJ-45 (Realtek 8111C) PCIe Gigabit ports, two eSATA ports, PS/2 keyboard/mouse ports, and a clear CMOS button.

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Patriot Viper Triple Channel DDR3 RAMIt’s now Patriot’s turn to release their tri-channel DDR3 memory kits for Intel’s Core i7/Intel X58 Express Chipset. 3GB and 6GB capacity kits are available featuring the award-winning Viper heat shields.  All models are engineered to offer an attractive balance of speed and latency while maintaining the lower voltage requirements of the X58 platform.

 

Available Models:

  • 3GB PC3-12800 – Viper Series Low Latency Tri-Channel Kit
    1600MHz (3 x 1GB) 8-8-8-24
     
  • 6GB PC3-12800 – Viper Series Low Latency Tri-Channel Kit
    1600MHz (3 x 2GB) 8-8-8-24
     
  • 3GB PC3-12800 – Viper Series Enhanced Latency Tri-Channel Kit
    1600MHz (3 x 1GB) 9-9-9-24
     
  • 6GB PC3-12800 – Viper Series Enhanced Latency Tri-Channel Kit
    1600MHz (3 x 2GB) 9-9-9-24
     
  • 3GB PC3-10666 – Viper Series Low Latency Tri-Channel Kit
    1333MHz (3 x 1GB) 7-7-7-20
     
  • 6GB PC3-10666 – Viper Series Low Latency Tri-Channel Kit
    1333MHz (3 x 2GB) 7-7-7-20
     
  • 3GB PC3-10666 – Viper Series Enhanced Latency Tri-Channel Kit
    1333MHz (3 x 1GB) 9-9-9-24
     
  • 6GB PC3-10666 – Viper Series Enhanced Latency Tri-Channel Kit
    1333MHz (3 x 2GB) 9-9-9-24

The Viper series tri-channel RAM kits provide Intel’s latest XMP options for the Core i7 processors, which enable quick and easy overclocking with Intel’s X58 Express chipsets.

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Foxconn X58 Renaissance MotherboardContinuing with the recent announcements of X58 motherboards, Foxconn’s X58 Renaissance offering will boast truly remarkable features.  Like all X58 motherboards, it supports triple-channel DDR3 memory, Intel Bloomfield LGA1366 (Core i7) processors, ATI CrossFire X multi-GPU technology, ICH10-R southbridge, etc.  However, what makes this motherboard stand out is the unprecedented four PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots, fourteen USB 2.0 ports, and impressive overclocking capabilities.  Otherwise, the motherboard supports up to 24GB of DDR3-1333/1066/800 memory via the six DIMMs, 7.1 channel HDA audio with Dolby Digital Live and DTS connect support, and a 6-phase power circuit for the CPU.  This will be one to watch for, especially if you use multiple RAID cards that require x8 or x16 PCI Express slots, in addition to one or more video cards.  So far, this is the only X58 motherboard offering four PCI Express x16 slots.

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EVGA X58 SLI FTW MotherboardThis week marks the introduction of several of the most anticipated motherboards for the upcoming Intel Core i7.  Today, EVGA has provided information on their new X58 SLI FTW motherboard.

The motherboard is, of course, based on the Intel(R) X58 Express chipset for the Intel(R) Core(TM) i7 processors. The EVGA X58 SLI FTW motherboard features 6 DIMM slots for triple-channel DDR3 RAM, 2-way and 3-way SLI support, enhanced VDroop control, and the EVGA E-LEET Tuning Utility for easy, yet powerful overclocking.  The motherboard will be released next month alongside Intel’s next generation platform

EVGA X58 SLI FTW Motherboard Specifications:

  • Supports Intel(R) Core(TM) i7 Processors
  • Intel(R) X58 Express Chipset with the ICH10R
  • 6 DIMM Triple-channel DDR3 Memory Slots
  • 2-way and 3-way SLI as well as CrossFireX
  • EVGA Enhanced VDroop Control
  • EVGA E-LEET Overclocking Utility
  • 10 SATA II 3.0GB/s Ports and 1 e-SATA
  • 100% Solid State Capacitors

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