Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition Sandy Bridge-E CPU

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We’ve been in this business here at HotHardware for a long time now. For most of that time, we’ve heard from countless so-called "industry experts" that the PC is dead, or at the very least dying. Quite frankly, we’re sick of hearing it. The PC is far from dead. One has to look no further than Intel's most recent finanical results, or even the contents of this website. In fact, we’d argue that the PC is more pervasive than ever. The PC isn’t dead, it just so happens to be one of the most flexible and versatile pieces of technology in existence, and it has simply gone through a number of transformations in its illustrious lifetime. What was once a non-descript, beige box good for little more than word processing and spreadsheets is now the sleek, aesthetically pleasing, hub of our digital world, that can take many different shapes. And despite its impending doom, today the PC is about to become more powerful than ever.

November 14th, 2011 marks the release of Intel’s Sandy Bridge-E microarchitecture and its companion X79 Express chipset. Sandy Bridge-E is the ‘tock’ in Intel’s tick-tock release schedule cadence, that bridges the gap between current Sandy Bridge processors and next year’s Ivy Bridge microarchitecture. The first processor to arrive in the SBE line-up is the Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition, a six-core chip poised to knock Intel’s aging Gulftown-based processors from their position atop the PC food chain, one that they've held for almost two years.

We’ve got a Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition in house, along with a handful of X79 Express-based motherboards, and have pitted them against an assortment of high-end processors in an array of benchmark scenarios. Our results are laid out for you on the pages ahead, but before we get to the juicy performance details, let’s get some of the particulars out of the way first; specifications coming right up...

Intel Core i7-3690X Extreme Edition Processor
Specifications & Features

  • Core Frequency:
    3.3GHz (Up To 3.9GHz w/ Turbo)
  • QPI Speed:
    6.4GT/s
  • TDP (Thermal Design Power):
    130W
  • Number of CPU Cores:
     6 (12 Threads w/ HT)
  • Intel SmartCache:
    15MB
  • L2 Cache:
    1.5MB (256K x 6)
  • Processor input voltage (VID):
     .95v
  • .032-micron manufacturing process
  • Shared Smart Cache Technology
  • Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology (EIST)
  • Extended HALT State (C1E) Enabled
  • Execute Disable Bit (XD) Enabled
  • Intel 64 Technology
  • AES-NI: Processor instructions
  • Intel Virtualization Technology (VT)
  • Packaging - Flip Chip LGA2011
  • Total Die Size: Approximately 434.7mm2
  • Approximately 2.27B Transistors
  • Price - $950
Six Core Processing: Runs 6 independent processor cores in one physical package

Base Processor Frequency: 3.30 GHz

Massive PCI Express Bandwidth: 40 lanes of PCIe supported through the processor

Intel Turbo Boost Technology: Dynamically increases the processor frequency up to 3.90GHz when applications demand more performance. Speed when you need it, energy efficiency when you don’t.

Intel Hyper-Threading Technology: 12 threads provide unprecedented processing capability for better multi-tasking and threaded applications. Do more with less wait time.

Intel Smart Cache: Up to 15MB of shared cached allows faster access to your data by enabling dynamic and efficient allocation of the cache to match the needs of each core significantly reducing latency to frequently used data and improving performance.

Overclocking Enabled: Core (Turbo) and DDR3 ratios are unlocked for ease of overclocking

Integrated Memory Controller: Supports 4 channels of DDR3-1600 memory with 1 DIMM per channel. Support for XMP memory. See this site for certified XMP memory.


  
Intel LGA 2011Sandy Bridge-E Processor, Top and Bottom

Before we get to the technical details regarding Sandy Bridge-E and the Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition processor, Intel asked us to get the word out regarding a joint promotion they’re working on with NewEgg to usher in their newest products, dubbed 32-in-32.

Our evaluation kit arrived in elaborate packaging that opened up to reveal multiple levels inside. On the first level we found an Intel RTS2011LC thermal solution, a Sony Bloggie video camera, and an Intel 510 Series SSD. On another level was the Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition packaging, and on yet another was the X79 Express-based DX79SI motherboard. Each level was also adorned with a different QR code that pointed to various promotional materials. The goal of the elaborate packaging was to inform us that this is no ordinary product launch and that our readers could win some of this gear. Below is the low-down on the 32-in-32 promotion straight for the horse’s mouth...

  

  

Win an Incredible Intel Unlocked PC & More: 32 in 32 Challenge
Win weekly unlocked prize packages from Intel and Newegg starting November 14. Take home the grand prize and you'll fly to Newegg HQ for a chance to build your own Intel Enthusiast PC valued at over $5,000. Weekly prize bundles include Intel® Core™ i7 Extreme Edition processors, Intel® Desktop Boards, Intel® Solid-State Drives, and other system components.

Each week is a chance to win a different unlocked prize package. To win the grand prize, create and submit a video explaining in about 32 seconds why you deserve to a chance to build your ultimate unlocked PC.

For complete rules and entry details,
check out Intel’s Facebook page.

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