Intel Core i7-990X Extreme: Crazy Fast Got Faster

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What do you do when you're the fastest thing around?  You just keep on WINNING. It's as if there was tiger blood coursing through your veins. You're so good, you're bi-winning.  Heck, with a six core processor at your disposal, you'd be hexa-winning.  Ol' Charlie needs one of these things to go with his rock-star life style.  As desktop processors go, Intel's Core i7 900 series line-up is pretty much the Charlie of the computing world.  Tiger blood and all, though people might ask what kind of drug you were on and the response would have to be "Core i" of course. It's a little like crack only it doesn't make you lose your voice.  Though you might want to occasionally unplug the bastard because, dude, it fires in a way that, we don't know, might not be from this terrestrial realm. And the ladies.  Well, let's just say that's not going to be a problem.  Ever. And it's not about the money, honest.  Ahh, it's good to be the king.  Yeah. 

But let's move forward, shall we?  Intel decided they would as well and recently they launched a speed bump of their flagship Extreme Edition Core i7 processor, known as the Core i7 990X.  It's unlocked and clocked at 3.45GHz stock speed with a Turbo Boost top-end speed of 3.73GHz.  Intel claims its the fastest desktop chip on the planet; like geek tiger blood for your PC.


Intel Core i7-990X Extreme Edition 6-Core Processor
Specifications & Features

  • Core Frequency: 3.45GHz (Up To 3.73GHz w/ Turbo)
  • QPI Speed - 6.4GT/s
  • TDP (Thermal Design Power) - 130W
  • Stepping - 2
  • Number of CPU Cores - 6 (12 Threads w/ HT)
  • Intel SmartCache - 12MB
  • L2 Cache - 1.5MB (256K x 6)
  • Processor input voltage (VID) - .95v
  • .032-micron manufacturing process
  • Shared Smart Cache Technology
  • PECI Enabled
  • Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology (EIST)
  • Extended HALT State (C1E) Enabled
  • Execute Disable Bit (XD) Enabled
  • Intel 64 Technology
  • AES-NI: 12 new processor instructions
  • Intel Virtualization Technology (VT)
  • Packaging -  Flip Chip LGA1366
  • Total Die Size: Approximately 248mm2
  • Approximately 1.17B Transistors
  • Price - $999


32nm Gulftown 6-Core Wafer


The new Core i7-990X is also based on the 32nm Gulftown core, which is derived from the 45nm Nehalem architecture that debuted with the original Core i7s. We've posted a number of articles in the past detailing Nehalem, in which we cover all its main features and specifications, and have even covered Gulftown a bit here and there. We've also posted information on overclocking Nehalem, even under extreme conditions, as well as well as the previous high-end Gulftown-based Core i7 980X Extreme Edition six-core chip.  Here's a list of those related stories if you'd like some additional backdrop.

And this is what Intel's Core i7 900 line-up looks like as of today, though the new Core i7-990X Extreme Edition processor will be supplanting the Core i7-980X moving forward.

CPU Model #
Core Clock Cores / Threads L3 Cache Max Turbo Boost Speed CPU Code Name Process
Intel Core i7-990X 3.45GHz 6 / 12  12MB 3.73GHz Gulftown 32nm
Intel Core i7-980X 3.33GHz 6 / 12 12MB 3.60GHz Gulftown 32nm
Intel Core i7-975 3.33GHz 4 / 8 8MB 3.60GHz Bloomfield 45nm
Intel Core i7-970 3.20GHz 6 / 12 12MB 3.46GHz Gulftown 32nm
Intel Core i7-960 3.20GHz 4 / 8 8MB 3.46GHz Bloomfield 45nm
Intel Core i7-930 2.80GHz 4 / 8 8MB 3.06GHz Bloomfield 45nm

So that's the family.  Now let's get a look at the genetics.

Article Index:

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Just as you gents said, get the 970. You are not going to notice the performance difference.

On a side note, why no Sandy Bridge chips in the compo?

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Yeah it cool , but does it have Adonis DNA? LOL

Btw what is going to happen with the 980X? I see it's not in your price chart, so is it going away?

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The 990x is my dream processor, but ever since the 970 felt under $600 , its the obvious choice for an upgrade,...Thats about 100 bucks per core.

InfinityzeN1:
On a side note, why no Sandy Bridge chips in the compo?

Marco did the review of the Desktop Sandy Bridge, and guess who came over his house to do a Web show called "This Old Nerd" and went away with some neat processors?

.....But seriously, That's the first thing that came to mind. The 2600k numbers should have been present and so is the 1100T,... The i7-870 / i5-750 and x4-965 just don't belong there.  Also, while its nice to see the Overclocking performance of the 990x with the stock cooler, I would have liked to see how far Dave could have pushed the 990x using an after market cooling solution.

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Can't completely agree with you on the other processors in my charts, Sammy, but I'm going to roll in some Sandy Bridge numbers, just for you, right now. What service! :)

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Dave_HH:
Can't completely agree with you on the other processors in my charts, Sammy

I take it back, your right.. Just like High end Graphics card get compared to their weakling sibling, High End CPUs have the same right,..Sorry Dave, I guess I woke up grumpy today, I have to adapt to waking up early again.

Drake_McNasty:
If you really want to compare it to the sandy bridge just look at the review of those processors (here) and pretend the 980x is a tiny bit higher in the charts.

I know that if I want to see the numbers put up by SB and the 1100t , I can just go and Click the "PROCESSOR" tab on top, But The 2600k and 1100t numbers should be there because a lot of people are deciding whether go for SB , High End i7 or AMD, and having all on one review makes it convenient for them as HH gets new user everyday. Just my humble opinion.

Dave_HH:
but I'm going to roll in some Sandy Bridge numbers, just for you, right now. What service! :)

HH is the best!!Yes

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All set, Sammy! Added our WinRAR tests for an additional page of data, in there too just for giggles. :)

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It will probably get a price cut soon, but currently Intel still lists them as being $999 on their website.

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Good review, it preformed as expected. If you really want to compare it to the sandy bridge just look at the review of those processors (here) and pretend the 980x is a tiny bit higher in the charts.

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I have Sandy Bridge in the 990X charts now Drake. Just added them. Thanks for the catch guys. Good points all around.

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The Sandy Bridge numbers give raise to some interesting thoughts. I really want to see how the Sandy Bridge version of the 9XX will perform. I think with 3 memory channels and 6 cores, the thing will be a true monster. Guess we will just have to wait and see though.

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