In the coming few weeks Intel will be launching the world's first six-core desktop processor with the Core i7-980X desktop processor Extreme Edition. This LGA 1366 socket processor can be run in any existing Intel X58 Express chipset powered motherboard after a quick BIOS flash, so a new platform will not be needed. Intel publicly showed off the new Core i7-980X processor at the Game Developers' Conference in San Francisco this week, so they have allowed the press and analysts to tell you all about it. Legit Reviews is always more than willing to give you an in-depth look at the fastest desktop processor that has ever crossed our path!
The Intel Core i7-980X Processor Extreme Edition is the first 32nm processor with six physical cores and Hyper-Threading for a grand total of 12 computing threads. This is big news as quad-core processors have been around now since 2006, when the Core 2 Quad processor series was announced at the Intel Developers' Forum. In less than four years we are taking another big jump when it comes to processors and that would be the move to six-core processors. As you can see from the top and bottom pictures of the Core i7-980X processor it looks nearly identical to any other socket 1366-based processor, but inside you know it's got more under the lid.
The core used in the Core i7-980X Extreme is called 'Gulftown' and features a 32nm monolithic die comprised of all six execution cores. As you can see from the labeled diagram shown above the queue and uncore elements reside in the center of the die and on each side they are surrounded by three cores and the shared L3 cache. The memory controller, miscellaneous I/O and QPI links are situated around the edges of the die. In total, the 980X is comprised of roughly 1.17 Billion transistors and has a die size of about 248mm2. Keep in mind that Bloomfield's die 263mm2, so even though Gulftown has more cores, cache and transistors it is smaller thanks to the die shrink.
The max TDP of the Intel Core i7-980X processor is 130W, which is the same as all the other Core i7 900 series processors. What else is the same? When it comes to pricing, the price for the flagship Extreme Edition processor remains unchanged! The Intel Core i7-980X processor will cost you the same $999 that the Intel Core i7-975 retails for, even though it has two more physical cores and 4MB of extra cache.
Before we move on to testing it should be made clear that the Intel Core i7-980X Extreme is the first Core i7 processor for the socket 1366 platform that is being made on the 32nm process. Intel updated the core to a more advanced process than early Core i7 processors. This means that the Core i7-980X supports some new features or instruction sets like AES-NI (Advanced Encryption Standard New Instructions), which accelerate AES encryption and decryption algorithms in hardware. It also features a larger shared L3 cache, so it has 12MB versus the 8MB found on the Bloomfield processors that you might already own.