Intel shows off 3.2GHz Nehalem desktop processor

If you were wondering just how fast Intel can clock its next-generation 45nm Nehalem processors, there's your answer. At the ongoing Intel Development Forum in Shanghai, China, the folks at Hexus have caught a couple of photos of a PC running with a quad-core Bloomfield chip—the desktop flavor of Nehalem—clocked at a whopping 3.2GHz.

Hexus says the demo system was computing a dynamic airflow simulation, and shots of the machine's display suggest it was running Autodesk's heavy-duty 3D modeling software suite Maya. A shot of the Windows XP Device Manager also confirms the aforementioned clock speed: the Processors tree lists eight "Genuine Intel(R) CPU" entries with an "@ 3.20GHz" next to each of them. This isn't an eight-core CPU, though—the four extra cores are simply the work of Nehalem's simultaneous multi-threading implementation, which should work similarly to the Hyper-Threading feature of old Pentium 4s and Pentium Extreme Editions.

According to a recent press briefing by Intel's Pat Gelsinger, Nehalem chips will feature 256KB of L2 cache per core, 8MB of L3 cache per chip, and an integrated memory controller with support for up to three DDR3-1333 channels. Nehalem CPUs will also feature a number of architectural enhancements that should make them speedier, clock-for-clock, than current Core 2 offerings. The first Nehalem CPUs are scheduled to ship in the fourth quarter, but the rumor mill suggests the chips won't hit mainstream desktops until 2009.

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