Intel's six-core Gulftown processor benchmarked months early

By on November 23, 2009, 3:33 PM
The folks at have gotten their hands on a sample of Intel's upcoming Gulftown Core i9 processor and put it through its paces. PCLab pitted the six-core chip against Intel's Core i5, Core i7, Core 2 Quad and AMD's Phenom II. The chip was tested in three separate motherboards, the Gigabyte EX58-Extreme, Asus Rampage II Gene, and Asus P6T SE.

Clocked at 2800MHz, the Core i9 beat the competition in a majority of the tests -- especially those optimized for multi-core chips -- but Gulftown slips behind its predecessors in many benchmarks. Intel's upcoming hexa-core CPU takes the cake when it comes to tasks like video encoding, but those two additional cores make little to no real-world difference in most games and other standard use.

PCLab found that the Core i9 performed rather well in terms of power usage, consuming far less than the Core i7 during maximum load, and only a hair more when idle. It ran cooler than the competing CPUs, with an idle temperature of 30C and 42C under load, which compares to the Core i7 at 32C and 49C. The chip also overclocked well, reaching a core clock frequency beyond 4.3GHz.

Realize that these results could change, as the tested product was only an early engineering sample. The Core i9 is expected to launch at some point during the first quarter of next year, and we will likely write review of our own when the time comes.

User Comments: 42

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TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

4.3Ghz overclock? Not bad for a quad. Think I might keep my eye on this i9 for my next upgrade.

Guest said:

Ita a hex core wiht HT (12 threads) not 4 core with 8 threads.

Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

Guest, I'm not sure I follow what your comment is in response to.

Guest said:

it's a response to TomSEA, he said "not bad for a quad". It's not a quad(4)-core, it's a hex(6)-core.

Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

Yikes, not sure how I didn't see that :/. Good eye!

Guest said:

Some weeks ago I saw in news that somebody is coming up with 100 core processor. right now I'm using a core 2 quad and I'll not change it for next three years at least.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

I have this feeling that as far as software goes, they are going to skip quads, and go right into hex or octo core.

Razerblade said:

Nice, But I'm not sure Hex cores will take off that quickly! I think they will release Oct cores and these are the ones which people are going to want! Saying that though, this hex core definitely looks set to be a very good processor if they improve it before release!

freedomthinker said:

I think Intel is by far taking this far too fast , they still haven't perfected their other chips and want to go strait to hex cores ? Mm.

Afenix said:

The release date is planned to be in 2010, but even intel hasn't set one exact date yet, so they can easily release it in 2011. I'm just happy that it will be on the 1366 platform, cause i'm so sick of buying another motherboard when a new intel cpu is out.

yorro said:

Hexa core? Just when applications were about to adapt quads. As a developer, I have no idea how this would impact the software industry, specially gaming.

Didou Didou, Bowtie extraordinair!, said:

If you're a good developer, you don't "adapt" to a fixed amount of cores. You just multi-thread your code where applicable & it will automatically benefit from having more than one physical computing core available (hyper-threading has been known to actually hurt performance in some cases).

Going from two cores to four, six or more shouldn't be that complicated once an application's code is multi-threaded, the operating system will distribute the threads evenly amongst the cores.

deadmongol deadmongol said:

6 cores huh. this certainly is an eye candy..

@freedon thinker, i agree, it's certainly is too fast. intel developers sure are in a hurry, if this keeps on going i think we'll have 12 cores in no time. =))

yukka, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Wondering if clock speed will ever be the way to gauge cpu ability - Intel seem happy to have hit a ceiling around 3.3.ghz and thats about it. More and more cores but same speed clock. How long before they work on a completely new system that will have multicore but fly off the motherboard with its clock speed.

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

6 cores at well over 4ghz? That sounds awesome, and the best part is the temps don't look too bad either

harby said:

Well, everyone should keep in mind that the benchmarks were on an early prototype. I'm sure number and/or overclockability will improve once wields improve and proceed to more refined revisions. Still, I wonder what the price will be on this and more importantly, how will AMD react.

Ranger12 Ranger12 said:

More cores is definetly better than just having blazing fast clock speeds. Intel is going a tad fast. I'm still running a core 2 and I had a pentium d (which was almost worse than my P4, lol) until a few months ago. The i5 and i7 are just so dang expensive when you start adding on new mobo and new ram and all the other problems that always come up when you switch mobos.

Moltar said:

ranger12, I agree with you in a certain sense. More cores is better in "certain situations." For the everyday consumer, 6 cores, let alone 12 with HT, is over kill. The only reason I can see for owning a processor like this is for a couple of reasons, servers, digital editing/rendering, i.e. A higher overclock is typically better for most situations because most programs don't support multiple threads as of yet. Take gaming for example, most games have a hard time even supporting 2 cores let alone 6. Don't get me wrong, the i9 sounds like a beast.

Xinthran said:

Yeah, sounds like a beast, but there is really no need for it now or even in the near future. It just seems silly to me that Intel would be allowing themselves to extend their reach so far. They need to work out some way to bring their outrageous prices down. How many individuals can afford $1,000 for a Core i7 EE? It just makes no sense.

fref said:

Wow, I wasn't even aware that Intel was working on a Core i9... This will be great for 3D artists working with 3D Studio Max and the likes.

Didou Didou, Bowtie extraordinair!, said:

These CPUs originate from the server market where you can never get enough performance & the innovations done in that department trickle down to the general consumer because it's more cost-effective to produce CPU parts that are very similar yet targeted at different markets (Atom being an exception as it doesn't share much with the Core/Xeon parts).

saintbodhisatva said:

yukka said:

Wondering if clock speed will ever be the way to gauge cpu ability - Intel seem happy to have hit a ceiling around 3.3.ghz and thats about it. More and more cores but same speed clock. How long before they work on a completely new system that will have multicore but fly off the motherboard with its clock speed.

thats kind of something that has always been hard to make more known. clock for clock a P4 cpu would be owned by a one of the four cores of an i7, i think even with HT turned off. AMD seems to be capitalizing on this by releasing "Higher" clock ratings but not necessarily faster than the Lower clock ratings of Intel.

Nirkon said:

It's good to see that were progressing with the CPU arena,

but I also see that AMD is still getting hammered... which

at the end of the road, might mean the end for them,

and then Intel will have a monopoly, which is not good for anyone...

Guest said:


It's a shame the article has been taken down so we can no longer see the benchmarks.

lupinnktp said:

6 cores? is that a bit too much in the time when most of applications can't ultilise more than 2 core? i think it's nice and all having die-shrinks and architecture to reduce heat and such, but more emphasize should be given in bumping clock speed, at least until there is a shifts in the way softwares are made to ultisie more processing cores

Doctor_hv said:

well, the technology has to advance through time, and programmers and users alike have to follow the trends.

but I have a two year old E8400 Core2duo processor and it serves my needs excellently, with the help of 8800GT it still pushes the new games to the max on 1440x900... that's enough for me, thank you...

But if you are the government, than you can order 2100 PS3s to use their cell processors for computing...

anyway, this will become mainstream in few years...till then, let's drool over benchmarks...

redtigerdragon said:

Kind of bummed I came to the party late and missed all of the fun. But as this article states, the processor doesn't really show any gains in the real world. We're barely catching up to efficiently use dual-core processors, with a flood of quad cores, an soon six cores? I think it's still a little early for this tech.

PUTALE said:

very nice temperature and power consumption reasult. It looks like Intel will still be leading AMD.

guyfred26 said:

CPU's are getting more and more cores nowadays. Increasing the number of core will increase its speed. Also while increasing ng core the price also inceases.Better wait until the prices goes down before I buy one.

Guest said:

AMD will remain as Intel frequently ignores the areas they do well in - the low to mid market. For these markets you really can't beat the perfomance AMD gives you at the price. Intel frequently shows that it prefers people with a limited computing budget stick to celerons and the new pentium dual-core, both of which are poor performers. The celerons are easily outmached by netburst p4 cores and the pentium dual-core is outpaced by my single core virtual machine running on a g2 opteron. AMD will survive as long as they continue to price efficiently.

claycc said:

AMD has done decent in the mid to low but with the release of the i5 lineup and the upcoming i3's I think AMD is going to be pushed down the low/budget market. I hope they can come up with some new products to compete because as mentioned an Intel monopoly only hurts the consumer.

A strong hex-core CPU is interesting, I just wish applications and games would catch up to utilizing multi-core CPUs. Until they do a 6 core CPU seems like a waste for more users.

Guest said:

You mean finally my Flight Simulator X will run smoothly? After thousands of dollars down the drain for cpus that i thought that would run it. Hmmm this cpu might be the answer.

Guest said:

I think that this is a Great Idea and i will 99% chance end up getting a computer with this.

Thank you soo much intel! Please make it work good!!!!

Guest said:

Thank you Intel!!!

Guest said:

Why do you think that 4, 6, or more cores is overkill for the average consumer? Have you ever tried to burn a DVD, surf the 'net, while Norton does a whole-drive virus scan? That combination will bring a single-core machine to it's knees. What about scanning a folder full of hi-res digital photos? Have you ever watched a single-core machine try to render row after row of thumbs? On my old single-core (Pentium 4) it would sometimes just completely freeze, to the point where I'd have to walk away from it for several minutes.

On my new i7, I have yet to see it slow down, no matter what I'm doing. And that's not "power-user" stuff - just perusing large folder of photos, while burning a DVD, and not having to worry if Norton decides it's time to scan the whole hard drive.

More cores == you, happier, trust me.

Guest said:

more cores for everyday computing means a more responsive user interface, I've been using an intel quad core Q6600 for some time now, and I regularly see 30-75% of the cores in use while not even gaming. However I often play games, while watching video, while surfing the net to look up stuff about the game on flash heavy websites. If I only had a dual core it would max out to 100% under that load.

If you add the cpu requirements for a simultaneous

- on access real time virus scan (always on)

- thumbnail generation for folders

- flash based websites (also note flash is going multicore and even GPGPU)

- instant messaging with webcam

you can quite easily max out 2 cores, and if you only have 2 the pc becomes sluggish, with 4 or 6 cores you have some to spare for the user interface to stay responsive, which provides a much improved perceived performance experience for the user.

add additional work tasks such as outlook and several excel spreadsheets with Office 2010's new PowerPivot feature that will directly access SQL server 2008 R2 databases with query execution occuring on the client rather than the server, and that quickly adds up for number crunching requirements. (Note as of office 2007 excel spreadsheets use multiple cores for spreadsheet calculations that use built in functions, user defined functions and single threaded macros are still not executed in parallel)

my vote

more cores = better

bludfist said:

Looks like an awesome CPU, but how many organs must be donated in order to afford it?

Guest said:

can it run crysis?

Guest said:

Last I Read the chip is going to be on a new board !? AMD's New 6 core is going to be on the same set but Intel is saying the i9 will be a new one! Thats to bad! I was hopeing not to have to change boards agean its getting to exspensive!!!

Guest said:

when i9 come out ? i wanna to buy now

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I just saw this, which explains the late post;

You mean finally my Flight Simulator X will run smoothly? After thousands of dollars down the drain for cpus that i thought that would run it. Hmmm this cpu might be the answer.
Why does everybody think that a better CPU is the answer to running this dog better? M$ should have quit while they were ahead with FS-2004. More succinctly stated, FS "X" is problem software.

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