macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

NY Times reports on Intel's extensive testing of the Core i7 (Nehalem) processors which officially launched today. The company has invested over $500 million annually to test these chips in an effort to avoid any show-stopping bugs.

This cautious attitude comes from experience for Intel who recalled their Pentium chips in 1994 after a widely publicized bug in its floating point calculation unit.
After the Pentium flaw, Intel also fundamentally rethought the way it designed its processors, trying to increase the chance that its chips would be error-free even before testing. During the late 1990s it turned to a group of mathematical theoreticians in the computer science field who had developed advanced techniques for evaluating hardware and software, known as formal methods.
Even with such testing, Intel says it would be impossible to evaluate every possible scenario. As an additional safety net, Intel has included software in the Nehalem chips which can be changed after they ship.

Apple is expected to eventually adopt versions of Intel's Core i7 in future Macs.

Article Link: Intel Not Taking Any Chances with Core i7


Jan 28, 2008
When can we expect Nehalem in a Mac?

Nehalem is probably one of the biggest upgrades a Mac will ever see.


macrumors G5
Jun 6, 2003
Solon, OH
This is good news - Intel needs to be careful, since these chips represent a radical design change compared to the previous generation.

As for when we'll see these in Macs - I suspect Macworld 2009 will give us our answer.


Sep 11, 2008
I can't wait to get my hand on this and build a new workstation. I am going to have a 16 core monster machine.


macrumors member
Jul 10, 2007
I'm not sure why this is news.

I used to work for a validation unit in the past, and they obviously conduct some random testing and random testing obviously can't cover any scenarios.

Newer architectures or architectures with new components or instructions obviously get longer tests or new tests compared to simple steps between processors with same architecture (since then you can just do regression testing).


macrumors 6502
Oct 24, 2003
Is this somehow different from the updatable microcode that's been used in processors for over a decade?


macrumors P6
Feb 8, 2003
The Peninsula
8 core

I can't wait to get my hand on this and build a new workstation. I am going to have a 16 core monster machine.

You'll have 16 logical processors - but only 8 core (unless you plan on using some of the very expensive MP server boards and chips).

The dual socket systems can have two quad core processors, with two logical processors per core, for a total 16 logical processors.

Also note that if you usually have 8 or fewer computable threads, you'll almost always be better off disabling hyper-threading. If you usually have 16 or more computable threads, then turn hyper-threading on.

In theory, a good scheduler could handle the situation, but in a dynamic workload it's a difficult problem to get right all the time.


macrumors 65816
May 1, 2007
Houston, TX
WOW! That much money just to test a product. This seems astronomically high.

With a revenue of $38.3 billion per year, it's easy to see why spending $500 million to prevent major mishaps is an afterthought for Intel. You have to remember that a widescale product failure like nVidia had recently affects much more than the bad chips sent out. Your stock price definitely feels the pain and takes a while to recover. Plus, manufacturing chips always leads to some defects, so it's better to catch them early and resell them at speeds they can run at rather than see them fail in the wild.


macrumors 65816
Nov 30, 2003
Wow, this is big news. I bet we'll see other chip companies start to do extensive product testing too.


macrumors 6502
Jan 30, 2007
Inside the Machine (Green Bay, WI)
I'm guessing we won't see new Mac Pros at Macworld which has traditionally been a consumer products oriented show. I have a suspicion if Apple does announce new Mac Pros, they'll probably be available in February or March or even do an announcement shortly thereafter in the year.

This is brand new tech—it's not just a motherboard revision but a whole new direction—like transitioning over from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X and I'm sure Apple is going to want to test Mac OS X as much as possible before it ships any Core i7-based kit. Apple needs to provision/design new motherboards, graphics cards, etc. Especially for Apple Pro customers, that's not something you want to rush. Apple might even go so far as to wait until Snow Leopard ships to deliver i7 goods to really show off what those chips and its new OS is capable. But it will be worth the wait I'm sure.

In the mean time, expect a quad core iMac and new Cube at Macworld. ;)


macrumors 6502
Apr 28, 2005
"I'm sure Apple is going to want to test Mac OS X as much as possible before it ships any Core i7-based kit"

believe me when i say apple has been testing OSX on these for some time now ;)
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