Intel`s Nehalem, Windows 7 are a Winning Combination

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print

In comparative testing, Intel's Nehalem processor delivers better performance when combined with Windows 7 RC1 than a standard implementation of Windows Vista Ultimate.

Windows 7 probably has the weight of the world on its shoulders. Microsoft needs their latest operating system to be a wild success to undo the spate of negative comments leveled since the arrival of Windows Vista.

Intel is in a similar predicament. The chipmaker needs sales growth and market domination by its Nehalem processors to bring the company back to glory days.

Both Intel and Microsoft need a lot more than hype to turn things around, the companies need products that deliver real value and garner loyalty. Together, both may able to achieve their individual goals.

The real secret here is to expose what a Windows 7 and Nehalem combo can deliver, and the answer is surprisingly simple – performance.

We set out to see if Windows 7 can indeed leverage the features of the Nehalem processor to boost performance, without incurring any type of a price penalty. We did not want to have to add any RAM or change any components, or change any settings to make sure that we had a level playing field.

For our first test, we compared a 64-bit version of Vista Ultimate to a 64-bit version of Windows 7 (release candidate) on an Intel i7 system that we had constructed and reviewed (/c/a/Reviews/Intels-Core-i7-CPU-Cranks-up-Performance/). That system was able to score an impressive Passmark rating of 2412.2 using Performance Test V 6.1 from PassMark. The system was able to boot up in about 55 seconds and a shutdown took about 70 seconds. All in all, pretty good performance for a Vista PC.

Installing Windows 7 RC1 on that same system revealed several performance enhancements. First off, boot up was reduced to less than 40 seconds, shutdowns took about 15 seconds. The icing on the cake came from the new performance numbers offered by PassMark, the system’s rating increased to 2749.9, a 14 percent increase. With Windows 7, applications seemed to be more responsive, loaded quicker and were able to access files perceivably faster.

To make sure the PassMark ratings were not a fluke, we proceeded with another test, using a new SuperMicro workstation (/c/a/Networking/SuperMicro-Unleashes-a-Workhorse-Dual-Xeon-Nehalem-Workstation-715234/). While running Windows Vista Ultimate 64 bit, the SuperWorkStation 7046A-3 garnered a PassMark rating of 3249.3. Switching to Windows 7, the SuperWorkStation 7046A-3  improved its PassMark score to 3801.4, an increase of almost 17 percent.

All things being equal, we were expecting to see a performance increase to 14 percent, similar to our first test system. The extra 3 percent in performance probably comes from Windows 7’s ability to better manage multiple processors and larger amounts of memory.

Any way you slice it, Windows 7 helps to make high-end processors more appealing and helps Intel to demonstrate more value for their top of the line CPUs. Call it a symbiotic relationship or serendipity or whatever you will, it just seems that i7 and Win 7 were meant for each other.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...