Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 review: A look at Penryn

Today we have in our hands the latest Intel Core 2 Extreme quad-core processor, and I know what you are thinking but no, this is not yet another extremely expensive processor featuring the same four cores with only a speed bump over the last QX6850 we looked at last time. Hmm, ok so I told a bit of a white lie there, as this is still an extremely expensive processor, but it's not just another in a chain of speed bumps. The new Core 2 Extreme QX9650 represents Intel's new flagship processor technology which until now was mainly known by its code-name "Penryn", manufactured on a 45nm design process, adding fifty new SSE4 instructions, among other things.

The Core 2 Extreme QX9650 is the first of many products to be released using the Penryn architecture. Like the previous Core 2 Extreme QX6850, the QX9650 also works at 3.0GHz but adds a number of enhancements. Perhaps the most prominent, Intel's 45nm High-k metal gate silicon technology, which is claimed to be an industry's first, featuring transistors with reduced current leakage designed to decrease power consumption while also accommodating for increased clock speeds. This is a big deal considering Intel has used the conventional silicon-oxide technique since 1960.

View: Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 review @ TechSpot

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Channel 10's Max Zuckerman shows off AMD Spider chipset

Next Story

vLite 1.1 Beta 2

9 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I don't see what the big deal is about them changing materials; when the processors drop down to pm level they will probably have to change again.

Samboini said,
I don't see what the big deal is about them changing materials; when the processors drop down to pm level they will probably have to change again.

That and they're using a new material which hasn't been time tested; if this is the first, I'd sooner wait a few more years once they get some of the issues resolved.

The semiconductor industry has been using SiO2 for the gate dielectric for as long as they've been using Silicion. Nearly 50 years! They've tweaked it, certianly, adding nitrogen and stuff, but nothing big. It's only in recent years that anyone's been able to find the need/ability to change it. I believe two other manufacturers are also going to be using high-k dielectrics (IBM and someone else). And they also had to change the gate electrode from Polysilicion to a metal, which was another big deal (It gets weird with the work function and the interface between the dielectric and the electrode, or something. To be honest, at some point, it just flies over my head.)

The gate is arguably the single most important part of the FET. It's the part that 'makes it all work', and they've changed the two materials that make it up. I'd say it's a pretty big deal.


Also, processors as we know them will probably never drop down the picometer level. That's subatomic. These gates were already 5 atoms thick, and suffering from pretty big electron tunnelling problems. (That's electronics quantum magically skipping over the dielectric, as if it wasn't there.) I believe they actually doubled the thickness of the dielectric to prevent that here, making the chip a few atoms thicker, and substantially lowering power consumption/heat generation.

Instead, they'll probably focus more on 3d building of chips once we hit the limit of how small we can make these things. I believe the thickness of the silicon wafer can be made considerably thinner, since the bulk is largely useless, and then stacked on top of another, and another, and another.

kaiwai said,

That and they're using a new material which hasn't been time tested; if this is the first, I'd sooner wait a few more years once they get some of the issues resolved.

There will be issues, certainly, but I'm sure Intel has an Extremely Intense™ Q/A process, to ensure that the processor doesn't have any major flaws.

Sure, there may be a slightly higher failure rate, or they may not last as long, or something...

But these problems will never be identified until people buy them, and only then, can they do something about it.

So the problems with early adoption is that yes, there can be some problems, but more likely, your problems will be dealt with, and you get to be one of the few, to test a truly amazing new product.

Xenomorph said,

When it drops to $80, I may get it.

Screw that. I'm going to wait until Intel pays ME to get it. Then i'll buy on the spot!