Intel doesn't plan to release its next-gen Nehalem CPUs until the fourth quarter, but somehow, Anand Lal Shimpi from AnandTech has managed to get some time with a couple of samples and benchmark them. The main sample tested is a Bloomfield desktop part clocked at 2.66GHz, which Anand put through the paces in a set of media encoding and 3D rendering benchmarks.
The results speak for themselves. If my math is right, Nehalem is about 33.5% faster clock-for-clock than the Core 2 Quad Q9450 on average, and power consumption is just over 9% higher at full load. The bulk of those performance results come from a computer with a troubled memory subsystem that reportedly had only one channel active. In the other test system, the integrated triple-channel DDR3 memory controller does wonders, nearly doubling memory bandwidth compared to a Core 2 Extreme QX9650 and cutting latency from 66.7 ns to 46.9 ns.
Obviously, if these results are indicative of how Nehalem will perform when it comes out in the fourth quarter of this year, AMD could face even more potent competition than it does today. That said, it's way too early to handicap these things in any kind of detail yet. All we know now is that Nehalem looks like a monster.