With recent reports that socket 1156 boards are arriving in Q3 2009 it seems to confirm information that we may well see the Intel Core i5 750, Core i7 850 and 870 as early as September. All these of these CPUs will be LGA-1156 socket so from this point on i7 won’t be exclusively LGA-1366, with the lower end models wisely being put on the lower end 1156 platform. This will also start off the reshuffle of the current Intel product line, new Core i5 and Core i3 will be replacing the current socket 775 Core 2 range as the choice for mid range computing, with the i7 being the choice of high end computing. i5 will not as expected support Simultaneous MultiThreading and therefore unlike i7, i5 will just be a 4 core/thread CPU. The higher end Core i7 Bloomfield chips that are already on the market using 1366 will continue to be numbered 9xx, while Core i7 Lynnfield chips due for September on socket 1156 will use the Core i7 8xx numbering system. The Celeron brand will remain as a budget alternative to i3 and there will still be Pentium for basic computing, we will also see the Atom brand continuing with new models released next year.
This does make things slightly simpler than the current setup, with a simple sliding scale for the Core products, the higher the number the more powerful and more expensive the range. While we feel this is a good move we still don’t see why Intel didn’t keep the i7 name reserved for just the higher end socket 1366 Bloomfield chips, this would of made it very easy to follow, with i3 and i5 using the 1156. But now we will soon have both socket 1366 and 1156 i7s, which really does seem like a very complicated way of simplifying the range!
The introduction of Core i9 may go some way to explaining that oversight as i7 in either socket 1156 or 1366 form won’t be the top dog for long. Intel’s new upcoming flagship processor, codenamed Gulftown will take its spot at the top of the range and will become Core i9 at the very highest end of the market. It will however still use the existing LGA-1366 socket and x58 chipset, so with a simple BIOS update should remain compatible with all current x58 boards, which is good news for those who have already made the jump to i7. These new Gulftown chips will take the current i7 series and improve on them; it will be a 6 core chip with a total thread count of 12 as each core can process 2 threads simultaneously. The i9 chips will also feature a 50% increase in L3 cache over Bloomfield, to a massive 12 MB and will have every performance boosting feature of the Core series. We can expect to see these chips arriving in Q1 2010.
These new products should really start putting pressure on AMD, which can only be a good thing from a consumer point of view. While the Core series will likely be more expensive than AMDs range of processors, as we saw with Socket 478 P4s against Socket A Althons many years ago, price isn’t the only factor and they should sell well. We will bring you more news and information on these new products nearer the release date.