The new 45nm core i7 chips from Intel are being released this month, and they look to be a great step up in real world application performance. Ranging from the base model, at $284 to the “extreme” model at $999, there should be an i7 processor for most high-end computing needs. New in these chips is the inclusion of a level 3 cache (8 MB), and the ability to “auto-overclock” built right in. Because of the new architecture of the chip, the i7 lineup will be able to run eight threads at one time, which means better multitasking all around. Also, systems using an i7 chip will need to use ddr3 memory and a motherboard which utilizes Intel’s “QuickPath” interface, instead of using a front-side bus.
In benchmarks, we see improvements (over previous 45NM chips) of up to 30% in applications such as winrar (file compression), and similar performance increases in video encoding. While these leaps in power are amazing, there is a catch. When it comes to PC gaming, these chips offer little, if any, advantage over previous 45NM chips to the average user… for now. Hopefully as time goes on, and games are coded to take advantage of the new chip architecture, we will see large performance increases over previous generations of Intel chips.