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Early Version of Intel's Nehalem Benchmarked, Much Faster than Penryn

Anandtech managed to get access to some early versions of Intel's Nehalem processors that are due for release in Q4 2008. We've previously described Nehalem which is expected to be a major jump forward from Intel's current Penryn processors. The key new features in Nehalem are Simultaneous multithreading, QuickConnect, and tri-channel DDR3.

Despite only having access to early chips and early motherboards, Anandtech was impressed:

First keep in mind that these performance numbers are early, and they were run on a partly crippled, very early platform. With that preface, the fact that Nehalem is still able to post these 20 - 50% performance gains says only one thing about Intel's tick-tock cadence: they did it.

Anandtech had access to a 2.66GHz Nehalem processor which they pitted against a 2.66GHz Penryn processor. Performance improvements ranged from 20-50% faster for the Nehalem chip. h.264 video encoding was tested and saw a 44% speed boost on Nehalem vs Penryn on the equally clocked processors. They claim that the 2.66GHz Nehalem outpaces the current top-of-the-line 3.2GHz Penryn. The speed increase comes at a cost of only a 10% increase in total system power consumption.

Apple will certainly adopt the Nehalem processors after they become available. While the first server-grade Nehalem processors are expected in Q4 of 2008, desktop and laptop models won't be available until sometime in 2009.