Intel's Core i7 Processors

Core i7 is a family of Intel quad core processors, that is, they have four processors on a single silicon chip. Released in November 2008, the Core i7 is based on the "nehalem" microarchitecture, which uses a 45 nanometer manufacturing process code-named "Penryn".

All four processor cores and all memory caches, including a 64K L1 cache, a 256K L2 cache, and a shared L3 cache are located on one chip. Previous processors had the memory controller located a separate chip, with Core i7, it's located on the same chip as the processor. The memory controller supports three channels, so instead of installing two or four DIMMs, you need to install three or six. It doesn't support DDR2 memory, it only supports DDR3 memory.

The Core i7 is supported by Intel's X58 chipset which eliminates the front side bus (FSB), instead it uses the Intel QuickPath Interconnect (QPI). QPI was developed to compete with AMD's Hypertransport. QPI is used to connect the X58 chipset to the Core i7 processor. A QPI comprises two 20-bit point-to-point links, one in each direction, with a separate clock in each direction, for a total of 42 signals. The bandwidth for QuickPath is reported to be 24.0 to 32.0 GB/s.

Overclocking isn’t officially supported by Intel, however, one special feature of the Core i7 Extreme Edition is an unlocked multiplier, which simplifies overclocking The Core i7 also has its own overclocking called Turbo Boost that, depending on the processor load and temperature, automatically runs the clock of one or more of the four cores at higher-than-rated speeds. This can boost the performance for multi-threaded applications.

The Core i7 uses hyper-threading technology, a method that runs multiple sections of code in parallel. Each core can run two threads simultaneously, resulting in higher processing throughput. Core i7 chips use the new LGA 1366 socket (Land Grid Array with 1366 Contacts).

Core i7 versions

Identifier Clock Speed
Core i7-920 2.66 GHz
Core i7-940 2.92 GHz
Core i7-965 Extreme Edition   3.20 GHz
Core i7-975 Extreme Edition 3.33 GHz

Learn more at

More Computer Architecture Articles:
• Microcontroller's Parallel I/O System
• Introduction to Computer System Main Memory Operation
• The Use of SOI (Silicone on Insulator) Wafers in MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) Production
• Binary Number Representation and Binary Math
• Binary Floating-Point Numbers
• Fundamental Digital Logic Gates
• The Microcontroller's Asynchronous Serial Interface
• Priority CPU Scheduling Algorithm
• Factors in Choosing an Oscilloscope
• Oscilloscope Required for Serious Digital Electronics Work