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.

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Super Dave:
made to help pay for the AMD settlement

We paid for THAT years ago!

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"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."

Agreed, from what I've heard. If I were building an Intel system, I'd definitely use the i5. As it is, I'm an AMD fan...

Anyway, on to this hexacore monstrosity...wasn't it supposed to be called the i9? Makes sense if all the other i7's are quad-core.

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Nethersprite:
As it is, I'm an AMD fan...

I've been building AMD for years, mostly because I could get solid performance for less money. Then I won a Core i7 870 system here on this site,.......AND a few months later, I won the Core i5 system components for another complete system from Intel, and built it myself.

So my AMD point of view has been vastly modified and it all happened for free. I gave away my Phenom-II 940 system when I won the first Intel box, and then gave away my X3-720 system after I won the second Intel box. (my kids are happy campers now) Both systems came with vastly superior Video cards too.

Someone, somewhere, is gonna have just the job for this new monster CPU that Intel just revealed. To them, the computing power will be worth the WAZOO price tag it carries.

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Thats all true realneil, but this just foreshadows the coming of the rest of the line usually just as in the I7 920. I also though AMD had already said there next move up was going to be an 8 core, and sometime this spring/summer, Or am I wrong?

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rapid1:

Thats all true realneil, but this just foreshadows the coming of the rest of the line usually just as in the I7 920. I also though AMD had already said there next move up was going to be an 8 core, and sometime this spring/summer, Or am I wrong?

If that is their next move, they've been pretty quiet about it, at least as far as I've been following things. Their move of releasing a six-core CPU to "compete" with the six-core i7 is predictable, especially as it also will be compatible with an existing socket, but from what I know the next one after that will be in Q2 2011, the Bulldozer platform. I could also be wrong: do you have a link to any rumors about AMD releasing an 8-core so soon?

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So, I take it this is the piece of beauty going into HH's new giveaway? 

 

Whoever gets this will be spoooooooiled. =D

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I see some really interesting things here. The first being to me is the automatic 50% improvement with that much more core than a current 1366 chip socket processor. Then you compare that to a current I7 920 (which by the way fits in the same socket), and realize this one with a stock cooler (nice job Intel on the factory tower cooler) can clock to just under 4.0ghz as well. Then think about putting a big tower on it if not liquid and popping this up as many do with the 920 to 4.0Ghz and think about that +50% on top of that. Then realize it runs cool and uses less energy than anything else while still having an auto 50% additional power out of the box. I am getting goose bumps!

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I did read the Intel I7 Extreme Edition 980X . WOW, I was very impressed with it. I think it will be super powerful PC system to get it done and play the game hard.

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Eh, until this came out I had my i7-920 clocked out at 4Ghz so saw no reason to get anything faster.  I don't think this thing would clock any higher with my cooling rig, so it would only get an advantage in things that needed more threads then mine could handle or that took advantage of the extra cache.

So even though it does give you more than the last several EE's, I still say that your best chip for this socket is the 920.  Hell of a lot cheaper too.

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Looks pretty sweet.also good to see more cores being utilized. Again having that large L3 Cache helps feed those cores.

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