Our last Processor Spotlight featured the Intel's Core2 Quad processors – at the time they were such robust and powerful chips that the Cakewalk Tech Support department elected to make them standard in all new company computers. To no surprise, time has been good to technology – and it shows in the latest addition to the Intel Core family of processors. The Core i7.
The Core i7 processors are available in two main flavors, the Core i7 Extreme Edition which tops out at speeds of 3.33 GHz, and the Core i7 which tops out at 3.06 GHz. And within those flavors there are varieties of models and speeds available. However for the purpose of this article, we are going to focus on the new features i7 processors offer to DAW users.
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Turbo Boost Technology - Simply put, this allows your processor to run faster when your computer has demanding needs. When the processor is running below its maximum limit it can boost its frequency at 133 MHz intervals until it reaches its maximum threshold. The implications for this are great as low-latency audio drivers can be demanding on a computers processor. Read all the details here.
Hyper-Threading - If you have been working with computers for awhile you might recall the initial implementation of Hyper-Threading on Intel processors. A very powerful enhancement at the time, Hyper-Threading has been improved for the i7 processors now making twice as many threads available to the Operating System. Simply, the quad-core i7 processors look like octo-core processors to Windows. This is extremely powerful for multi-threaded applications such as SONAR which can take full advantage of every thread available.
QuickPath Interconnect - Your processor is only as fast as the pipes that move data in and out of it. A new faster transfer medium helps ensure faster data transfer, this is crucial when working with high count multi-track recording sessions where low-latency is a must.
Integrated Memory Controller - At long last, lightning fast data transfer and increased bandwidth. Three channels of DDR3 1066 MHz means that RAM-intensive sampling and synth plug-ins no longer pose a threat to system stability. Coupled with Windows 7 64-bit you can take advantage of all the memory available. At the time of this writing, most available i7 capable motherboards were maxing out at 24GB of RAM! With that much RAM entire sample libraries could be loaded into memory eliminating the need for Direct from Disk streaming. Currently the only downside to the new integrated controller is that the cost of DDR3 RAM is still a bit higher. Of course as more and more users upgrade their PCs and DDR3 becomes more of a standard this price will decline.
64-bit Ready - All of Intel's Core i7 chips are locked and loaded for Windows 7 64-bit so you can take advantage of copious RAM as well as SONARs 64-bit audio engine.
More Resources - In addition to the Intel Core i7 Product Page be sure to check out the Product Brief as well for more details.
Intel & Cakewalk - Cakewalk has consistently been first in the audio industry to support many of Intel's technological developments. In fact we were recently featured at the 2009 Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco - you can get the full scoop on the event and our monster Core i7 computer we used on the Cakewalk Blog. The relationship works because we know first-hand how processors facilitate audio production. We see it every day through communications with our customers, as well as in our own offices and labs. In addition, the Core i7 drives our most recent DAW Labs computer reviews - such as StoneWave's Pro Studio i7 and ADK's Core Pro. And it is now our standard for trade shows – such as the mind-blowing PC Audio Labs Custom machine we used at the 2009 NAMM Show.
For more information on CPU's and building your own computer please visit the DAW Labs - Build a Computer home page