Intel Core i7 EmperorLinux offers total hardware support for SMP with Intel Core i7 Quad
Intel Core i7 Logo
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Intel's 3rd generation Core i7 Quad-Core processor (available 2012), is the evolution of the i7 Quad introduced in 2009, and the only true quad-core CPU to be available in laptops and notebooks. Of course, Linux has had support for Symmetric Multi Processing (SMP) for many years, and this is quite mature, so it comes as no surprise that Linux takes full advantage of these new CPUs in portables. The EmperorLinux Rhino M6700 is our fastest Core i7 system.

What can you expect from the Core i7 Quad CPU? Well, first off you have four (4) processor cores, each of which is hyperthreaded, meaning you have eight (8) execution cores. Meaning that in Linux you'll see 8 CPUs in /proc/cpuinfo, in htop, and any other similar tool. In everyday applications, like email (evolution, etc.), web browsing (firefox) and word processing (Open Office), which are not "threaded" applications, you will not see much difference at all, as they run on a single CPU core. Except that up to eight of these single-threaded applications can run simultaneously at the full clock speed of the CPU, and without having to contend with other processes for time on the CPU. This lowered contention from that typically seen on dual core machines is the win here.

If you are compiling code with well-written makefiles (like the Linux kernel itself, which accept make -j N), run scientific applications, or have any other software designed specifically to take advantage of SMP, you will see the most improvements. We have seen kernel compiles completed in significantly less than 1/3 the time (of a dual-core machine) when doing make -j 8.

You may have noticed that, while previous generation CPUs like the Core 2 Duo T9900 were clocked up to 3.06GHz, the Core i7 Quad CPUs clock in at 2.2GHz to 2.5GHz. This is where Intel's Turbo Boost comes in. The rated clock speed for an i7 CPU is the continuous duty clock speed if all 4 CPU cores are kept maximally busy (as in a big render, kernel compile, or transcoding). If any one CPU core does not have any work to do, then it can be turned off, and the remaining cores can speed up (to take advantage of the excess available thermal dissipation). Idling 2 cores lets the remaining two go even faster, and by extension, when idling 3 cores, the one remaning core will run very fast. The following chart shows the Core i7 CPUs, and their turbo boost speeds based on the number of active cores. Clearly, you can still have your 3.06GHz, and even go to 3.5GHz:

CPU Base Freq. Max Turbo Boost Freq.
4 cores active 3 cores active 2 cores active 1 core active
Core i7-720QM 1.6 GHz 1.73 GHz 1.73 GHz 2.4 GHz 2.8 GHz
Core i7-820QM 1.73 GHz 2.0 GHz 2.0 GHz 2.8 GHz 3.06 GHz
Core i7-920XM 2.0 GHz 2.26 GHz 2.26 GHz 3.06 GHz 3.2 GHz
Core i7-2720QM 2.2 GHz 3.0 GHz 3.1 GHz 3.2 GHz 3.3 GHz
Core i7-2820QM 2.3 GHz 3.1 GHz 3.2 GHz 3.3 GHz 3.4 GHz
Core i7-2920XM 2.5 GHz 3.2 GHz 3.3 GHz 3.4 GHz 3.5 GHz