Intel Core i7-980X Extreme 6-Core Processor Review - HotHardware

Intel Core i7-980X Extreme 6-Core Processor Review

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Although they are not due to hit store shelves for a few more weeks, Intel is using the always exciting Game Developers Conference currently being held in San Francisco to officially unveil the new Core i7-980X Extreme processor. Intel's Extreme Edition processors have always been targeted at enthusiasts and hardcore-gamers, so what better place to show off the fastest desktop processor for the PC to date?  Unless of course you're catching it here on the pages of HotHardware, that is.

The new Core i7-980X Extreme is an interesting animal, however, that requires a detailed look. Although its branding implies that it may be just a simple speed-bump over the previous flagship Core i7-975 Extreme, the 980X is actually a totally different beast. And what a beast it is. While the Core i7-975 is based on the 45nm Bloomfield core and features quad execution cores, the new Core i7-980X Extreme is based on the 32nm Gulftown core and sports six execution cores.  That's right folks, quad-cores are no longer king of the hill.

There is much more to talk about with regards to Gulftown and the Core i7-980X Extreme specifically, but we're not about to cram it all into a pithy intro. Check out the specs immediately below and perhaps take a few moments to peruse some other recent Intel processor coverage a bit further down the page.  Then strap yourself in as we take the killer Intel Core i7-980X Extreme 6-Core processor for a spin...


Intel Gulftown CPU Die: 50% More Cores, 50% More Cache ~ Same Power Consumption

Intel Core i7-980X Extreme Processor
Specifications & Features

  • Core Frequency: 3.33GHz (Up To 3.6GHz w/ Turbo)
  • QPI Speed - 6.4GT/s
  • TDP (Thermal Design Power) - 130W
  • Stepping - 2
  • Number of CPU Cores - 6 (12 Threads w/ HT)
  • Intel SmarCache - 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
  • MSRP - $999


32nm Gulftown 6-Core Wafer


The new Core i7-980X Extreme is based on the 32nm Gulftown core, which is derived from the 45nm Nehalem architecture that debuted with the original Core i7s. We've already 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. Due to the similarities between Gulftown and Nehalem, the two share many of the same capabilities.  We have written about Nehalem's features in depth in our coverage of the original Core i7 launch, we've posted information on overclocking Nehalem, even under extreme conditions, and have covered other 32nm derivatives as well...

We're going to summarize Gulftown's main features as they relate to the Core i7-980X Extreme again here, but if you'd like to check out our complete coverage of the Core i7 family and the X58 Express chipset which supports it, the list of articles above offers up just about all there is to know.

Article Index:

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I guess Intel and AMD have given up totally on trying to raise clock speeds. In 2000 we hit the 1GHz mark. In 2004 we made it to 3.8GHz. Now 6 years later down to 3.33GHz. Random though, but I wonder if we will ever see CPUs faster than 3GHz no mater the number of cores.

Over my random rant. This is a pretty awesome CPU. The thermals look pretty cool all things considered.

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bob_on_the_cob:

I guess Intel and AMD have given up totally on trying to raise clock speeds. In 2000 we hit the 1GHz mark. In 2004 we made it to 3.8GHz. Now 6 years later down to 3.33GHz. Random though, but I wonder if we will ever see CPUs faster than 3GHz no mater the number of cores.

Over my random rant. This is a pretty awesome CPU. The thermals look pretty cool all things considered.

 

Indeed. O AMD, AMD, where art thou AMD?  Intel has created the ultimate chip, far ahead of the competition and their own processors.  The biggest surprise for me is the 980X is the fastest chip, whether you're using single thread or multi-thread applications. Core performance quality was not sacrificed for quantity. And the $999 price tag is high, but in line with past Intel Extreme processor offerings. The Phenom II X6 is slated for release later this year, but judging the way Intel is going, they might as well not bother.

Furthermore it looks like the Thuban is set to replace the current quad core offerings, it will essentially be a X6 with two disabled cores. Lots of unlocking potential there as we've seen with the X2 550, and the X3 720. AMD continues to offer value to the consumer, but is yet to challenge Intel at the top end of the market.

 

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gibbersome:
AMD, AMD, where art thou AMD?

By the way, how fast have you got your wazoo Incredi-Chip up to so far?

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Ouch...$1200 in Canada Tongue Tied

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Yeah, looks great.

 

Except for the price.

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Too expensive, but extremely fast!

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Well that was fast lol

Hey why no OC'd benchmarks?

Also how about loading up Batman: AA w/a single GPU and turning on Phsyx. Let's see how the extra cores handles Physx calculation! :-D

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Super Dave:

$1,000.00 is right Super Dave,....It's the usual Extreme performance tax.

It does look like a solid performer though and it's only natural to want one or two of them.

I just can't see me spending this kind of money for a CPU unless I win the friggin' lottery or something.

Another thing,....is it just me or did anyone else notice that there is very little performance difference between the current Intel flagship 'Extreme' Core i7-975 and the Core i7-870? They run real close to one another. The Core i5-750 is lagging, but still 'in the same ballpark' as well.

After I got my i5-750 and have played with it a little, my opinion of it keeps growing.

This is Intel's hidden gem. It is a sweet CPU and delivers the most 'Bang-For-The-Buck' of any of their CPU's to date.

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The sales tax alone would cost me $87.50! Could it be that this thing was made to help pay for the AMD settlement?

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