Intel Core i7-950 processor review
The Intel Core i7-950 is a quad core Processor with a nominal core frequency of 3.06 GHz. The core i7-950 bumps up the frequency of the core i7-930 by 106 MHz or about 3.8%. We should therefore expect a performance improvement of the order of 3 percent in core i7-950 as compared to core i7-930.
The core i7-950 is one of the highest performance processors from Intel available at the time of writing. Intended for the desktop computing, the core i7-950 processor supports Hyperthreading, and, with 2 threads per core there could be 8 threads running simultaneously at a time. This provides a very good performance level in multithreaded environment.
The core i7-950 does support turbo boost and its turbo frequency is 3.33 GHz. The turbo boost momentarily increases the core frequency of the processor to cater for the increased demand in the processing power.
The core i7-950 has 8 MB of smart cache. Smart cache, according to Intel is a shared cache arrangement, in which all the four cores share a common 8 MB cache. The cache memory is dynamically allocated to the individual cores based upon the requirement with the ultimate intention of minimizing the total cache miss. Individual threads requiring large amount of cache are expected to benefit with this arrangement.
The integrated memory controller in Core i7-930 leads to lower memory latency and improved overall performance. The maximum amount of the memory supported is 24 GB and the speed grades supported are DDR3-800 and DDR3-1066. An important point to notice is that the core i7-950 has triple channel memory unlike the dual channel memory arrangements in the core i3 and core i5 processors. In broad terms we are looking for 3/2 times the bandwidth in processor to memory communication in triple channel memory controller as compared to dual channel memory controller. You may like to note that each memory controller is typically 64 bits wide ( citation needed).
The communication with the chipset is using high speed Quick Path Interconnect bus. The bandwidth of the bus connecting the processor is 4.8 GT/s. The latest 64 bit software can take advantage of the the 64 bit instruction support from core i7-950, further improving the processor performance.
Built with 45 nm technology, the core i7-940 processor no integrated graphics. The graphics processing capability will come either as a discrete component on the motherboard or a desktop graphics card.
The TDP rating of Core i7-950 is 130 Watts, the same as the TDP rating of i7-930 , slightly on the high end.
The core i7-930 has a die size of 263 mm2, and has 731 million transistors. The i7-930 fits in FCLGA1366 package and has a package size of 42.5mm x 45.0mm.
Benchmark results for core i7-950
There has been a lot of discussion around the Benchmark results, interpretations and discussion. Their comparison with quad core and hex core Phenom ii processor is interesting , as AMD offers them at substantial low price with comparable performance improvement. The AMD phenom ii processors also have advantage of not requiring separate motherboard (they fit in existing motherboards supporting AM3 socket).
Super Pi 2M takes just 12.4 seconds with core i7-950 processor. The 3DMark 06 score is 5377. Detailed benchmark comparison with other processors is beyond the scope of this review, but you are encouraged to take a look at the AMD phenom ii 1090T and 1075T processors – especially comparison involving their price advantages.