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An Introduction to the Intel Core i5 750
The Intel Core i5 series of processors is Intel's middle-of-the-road line. Of course, it should be noted that these processors are middle-of-the-road only by the standards of Intel's current processor line, which is generally fast. Core i5 processors are quicker than most of the processors AMD offers and all of Intel's older Core 2 Duo line.
The Core i5 700 series, of which the 750 is a part, is the only line of quad-core Intel Core i5 processors. The Core i5 750 is, in turn, the least expensive of the Core i5 quad-core parts, and also the least powerful.
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Intel Core i5 750 Specifications
- Number of Cores: 4
- Number of Threads: 4
- Base Clock Speed: 2.66 GHz
- Maximum Turbo Boost Speed: 3.2 GHz
- Cache: 8MB
- Instruction Set: 64-bit
- Production Process: 45 nm
- Max TDP: 95 W
- Virtualization: Yes
- Integrated Graphics: No
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Intel Core i5 Architecture
The Intel Core i5 750 is based of Intel's Nehalem architecture. Nehalem is Intel's most current architecture as of late 2010 - it replaced the Core 2 Duo and Quad and will itself be replaced by new Sandy Bridge processors in 2011.
The cores in a Nehalem processor are still a branch of the Pentium Pro tree which has been in existence for over a decade, but there are many differences between the older Core 2 Duo processors and the new Nehalem models. One major new feature - Turbo Boost - was introduced. This feature makes it possible for the Core i5 750 to dynamically alters its clock speed whenever the processor is operating below its thermal limit. Although the base clock speed is 2.66 GHz, a Core i5 750 will often be running at speeds up to 3.2 GHz. Obviously, this provides a serious boost to performance.
Another major feature in the Nehalem architecture is hyper-threading. Hyper-threading improves multi-threaded performance by making it possible for each processor core to schedule two threads at once. Because of this feature every core in a Core i5 750 appears as two cores in Windows - so the Core i5 750 appears to be an eight-core processor when viewed in Windows Task Manager. Hyper-threading isn't a new feature, however. The Pentium 4 architecture also had this feature, but Intel dropped it for the Core and Core 2 architectures.
Nehalem was also the first processor from Intel to integrate the memory controller. The Core i5 750 also has an integrated PCIe 2.0 controller. The result of these particular differences is not substantial in terms of performance, but the change does further improve the power efficiency of the Nehalem architecture. The Core i5 750, like all Nehalem processors, provides great performance without consuming gobs of power.
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Core i5 750 Features
The Intel Core i5 750 is relatively skimpy on features for a Core series processor because it does not offer hyper-threading. Hyper-threading is a method Intel uses to create extra "virtual" cores on a processor. A quad-core processor with hyper-threading would be treated by the operating system as an eight-core processor. This does not mean the quad-core would perform nearly as well as an eight-core processor, but it does provide a bit of a performance boost.
However, the Core i5 750 does have Turbo Boost. This is the feature that Intel offers which lets a processor automatically overclock if the processor has enough thermal headroom. In other words, a processor that is running relatively cool will be given the chance to run at a higher clock speed, and it will be able to continue running at that clock speed until the load on the processor forces it to back off.
Another feature that will be important to some users is virtualization. This feature enables the ability to run a virtual version of a computer on the processor within another operating system.
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Core i5 750 Overall Performance
The performance of the Core i5 750 isn't as good as that of other quad-core Intel Core i5 and i7 processors with faster clock speeds and higher turbo boost ceilings.
However, when compared to older Intel processors and current AMD processors the Core i5 750 really cleans up. The Core i5 750 is generally quicker than any Intel Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Quad processor ever made, including the Intel Core 2 Quad Extreme Edition processors. The Core i5 750 is also quicker than most of AMD's processors, although the AMD's fastest quad-core and six-core processors can prevail in a limited number of circumstances.
Because this is a quad-core processor it will prove to be particularly quick in programs that make good use of more than two cores. This generally includes video/audio transcoding software, 3D rendering programs, and software of that sort.
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The Intel Core i5 750 is currently priced at $185 at most online retailers. Throw in a basic motherboard and you'll be well on your way to building a very nice quad-core system for less than $300. Sure, Intel's faster Core i5 and Core i7 quad-cores are quicker than this processor, but they're also more expensive. For many users the Core i5 750 offers all the power they'll ever need.