Intel launches first six-core desktop processor, the $999 Core i7 980X Extreme Edition

By on March 11, 2010, 10:07 AM
Intel officially launched today its first hexa-core desktop processor, the Core i7 980X Extreme Edition. As previously reported, the codenamed Gulftown chip features six 32nm cores clocked at 3.33GHz, reaching a maximum Turbo Boost clock speed of 3.6GHz for single-threaded operations, it has a massive 12MB L3 cache, and is capable of running 12 threads simultaneously with Intel's Hyper-threading technology.

With the exception of support for some new instructions dubbed AES-NI (Advanced Encryption Standard New Instructions), which accelerate AES encryption and decryption algorithms in hardware, everything else remains the same as Bloomfield. This means a triple channel controller supporting DDR3 memory at up to 1066MHz (although it will easily run higher speeds), and the QPI link running at a full 6.4GT/s.


Despite offering 50% more cores and 50% more cache than previous generation Bloomfield processors, the new Core i7 980X maintains the same 130W power envelope thanks to the newer 32nm process. It also shares the same LGA-1366 socket, so the chip will be fully compatible with existing X58 motherboards after a BIOS update.

The Core i7 980X will essentially replace the 45nm Core i7 975 Extreme Edition as Intel's new flagship. While the latter will still be available, the new six-core processor will be offered at the same $999 price point, making it quite simply the most powerful and advanced desktop processor money can buy. Check out some reviews at AnandTech, PC Perspective, and The Tech Report.




User Comments: 89

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Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

ME WANT!!!

ME WALLET NO WANT!!!

ARG!!!

But seriously, this processor is a nice leap in computing capacity. 12 threads of execution sounds delicious!

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

wagan8r said:

ME WANT!!!

ME WALLET NO WANT!!!

ARG!!!

But seriously, this processor is a nice leap in computing capacity. 12 threads of execution sounds delicious!

Hahah!

I want it too, and I have a i7 950 with 4 cores. 8 virtual with hyper-threading.

...and I thought I had overkill.. is there anything that would need the new i7 980???

Yoda8232 said:

It's good, best CPU now, but still should have a higher clock speed. In 2000 we hit the 1GHz mark. In 2004 we made it to 3.8GHz. Now 6 years later down to 3.33GHz. The power consumption is great on this thing!

DryIce said:

Wow. Think about running 12 threads at the same time. But I agree with Yoda8232, lets hope they increase the clock speed.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

This is going into my purchasing queue for next spring when I do my next upgrade.

Geek4life said:

Great,,,, but first we need games and applications that take advantage of Quad core CPU's. It's all about balance you must have a great GPU with a great CPU otherwise you are spinning your wheels.

BlindObject said:

So, how does it run Crysis? =D

Guest said:

6 cores even a 4GHz is really not of much use to me, especially not at that price. I'd kill for a 5+GHz quad core though.

PaulWuzHere PaulWuzHere said:

YES! Now powerful computing is in the hands of everyday people. At $99.9 this is a steal... wait... oh... never mind, That was AMD.

On a serious note, what % of the market will this CPU fall in? I think these CPUs are just Intel saying "Yup we did it." Showoffs lol.

New slogan - i7 980, You'll be in debt!

seefizzle said:

I'll wait for AMD to make a six core processor that's half the price.

fref said:

Saw some gaming benchmarks for this new processor, and six cores don't help at all for gaming. The games were running at pretty much the same frame rate as with the i7 975 (if I recall correctly), which is a quad core processor. So make sure your applications will benefit before buying a 6 core CPU.

Vicenarian said:

This is basically aimed at corporate/business consumers; video editing/encoding, etc. 3D rendering, etc. and other high end uses. No consumer needs a nearly $1000.00 processor...with the state the world is in today e.g. people without even clean drinking water, I couldn't imagine spending that much on a processor...

A core i5 is plenty.

Guest said:

I will stick with my 965 extreme clocked at 4Ghz :D But seriously I think most people would rather have a higher clock speed then 2 more cores. However this would be great for anyone that does a lot of virtualization like VMWare and Virtual PC.

Neojt said:

Really are we there yet!!!

check this out in 6 months its going to be 345$ hook this un with a pair a Nvidia GTX ....... gaming at another level

strating to save money to get one ....NOW!

natefalk natefalk said:

Very impressive and I want one.

To bad I just bought a 1156 socket mobo. I'm sure in a couple years the price will be reasonable. Remember when the Core2 Quads were released? They were initially $999 and now you can get one for $200.

I can't wait for the i9's to get released.

rskapadia2294 said:

the specs are great! 12 threads simultaneously! dats a great deal! but we would have to take a loan to buy it! lol! seriously they should decrease the price! at $999 we can build a whole gaming rig that smoothly runs WoW! waiting for the prices to fall!

Norino said:

Nice move..

i thought it won't be released this soon..

Intel is the best.. but i still like AMD more..

mattfrompa mattfrompa said:

seefizzle said:

I'll wait for AMD to make a six core processor that's half the price.

Yes, with 1/3 the cache, and performance more in line with Intel quad cores...

princeton princeton said:

+1 AMD cpus although cheap are cheap for a reason. AMD has fallen because their high end parts still get beaten by the intel i5-750.

compdata compdata, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I could seriously use some of that computing power right about now :-) I am specing a new system and the prospect of being able to get a hexa core processor down the road has me thinking much more about the X58 based motherboards to ensure that possibility. If they released a lower clocked Gulfstream that fit into the rest of the 900 series range i would gladly pay 50% more for the extra cores & cache.

compdata compdata, TechSpot Paladin, said:

princeton said:

+1 AMD cpus although cheap are cheap for a reason. AMD has fallen because their high end parts still get beaten by the intel i5-750.

I definitely want AMD to stay around for competition though. And at a CPU cost to performance comparison they do have some compelling chips. Unfortunately when you add in the whole system cost it switches back to Intel.

yello88 said:

"A 32nm transistor can switch on and off over 300 billion times in one second. It would take you 4000 years to flick a light switch on and off that many times."

So in other words, Intel, you've created a power saver?

grats...

ryan29121 said:

I was excited about the release of the quad core cpu. Mainly because the price was at around $300-400. A price tag of $999 for a 6-core, is way too much for a poor college student. I think I will be waiting until this price comes down significantly.

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Oh man, I just can't wait to hand over my $1k to Intel so I can get their latest and greatest processor... I mean think of all the digits of pi I can calculate or the number of Monte Carlo simulations I could run in Excel, not to mention all those GB's of files which need to be zipped and unzipped in Winrar...

Yoda8232 said:

It's good, best CPU now, but still should have a higher clock speed. In 2000 we hit the 1GHz mark. In 2004 we made it to 3.8GHz. Now 6 years later down to 3.33GHz. The power consumption is great on this thing!

Higher clock doesn't mean better performance - not if you're comparing a Pentium 4 to an i7 processor.

CodePhoeniX said:

I'm Just waiting for AMD's Bulldozer.

compdata compdata, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Yoda8232 said:

It's good, best CPU now, but still should have a higher clock speed. In 2000 we hit the 1GHz mark. In 2004 we made it to 3.8GHz. Now 6 years later down to 3.33GHz. The power consumption is great on this thing!

High Clock speed doesn't matter. It is what you can do in each clock tick that really matters. High clock speeds actually impose a lot of issues with synchronization across the whole die and is a major reason for trying to keep it as low as possible.

fadownjoo said:

there isnt even enough things that take advantage of 6 cores..this is not for average user..unless u got the $$$ or sell your old corrolla

Trillionsin Trillionsin said:

geek4life said:

Great,,,, but first we need games and applications that take advantage of Quad core CPU's. It's all about balance you must have a great GPU with a great CPU otherwise you are spinning your wheels.

Yea.. I dont think most appications even take advantage of quad core, but I dont really know that for a fact. Just a hunch...

thebluemeaner said:

I saw the benchmarks and this processor got beat by the phenom x4 in some tests, software just isn't ready for six cores at the moment.

androb said:

Looks like Intel wants to boost many things at once...

I believe this product, the Core u7 980X Extreme Edition to be precise... will be manufactured mostly for researchers. For normal consumers, gamers in particular, you wont get any advantage on buying such a product.

This kind of product would be more proper for people that use intensive video/editing/compression/design sotware. Also for scientists or developers ( or whatever ) that need to take full power with intense CPU operations.

You might wonder why this kind of product does not benefit any gamer.. the answer is quite simple.. secondary memory, graphic cards, etc can't catch up with the processors. It won't do any good to have a monster processor if your software relies on it as much as secondary memory, I/O operations, and so forth..

If you are interested in spending your money, you could buy this product and you would probably need dual graphics cards (strong ones) to take advantage. If you are not interested, you could just buy a 200 usd processor, save 800 dollars, and have the same kind of good quality when playing games such as Crysis.

Also, depending of what kind of software you use... if the software is designed to take advantage of more Cores, the addition of more cores won't necessarily add improved perfomance either. See, there are things in programs that can be performed in parallel, but the addition of more cores reaches a point of diminishing return.

Tizzlejack Tizzlejack said:

Until they start making games that utilize all these cores, I'll stick with quad.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

thebluemeaner said:

I saw the benchmarks and this processor got beat by the phenom x4 in some tests, software just isn't ready for six cores at the moment.

That all depends on which benchmarks you're talking about. I've seen the ones you're referring to, though I've also seen them where the 980x extreme blows the phenom away in every test. I'm inclined to believe the truth lies somewhere in between.

Serag said:

wow'erz @ the performance!!

I wonder how it will perform in gaming though...

androb said:

Intel's addition for improved performance when dealing with the symmetric block cipher AES in their hardware is appreciated, though. NSA will be very interested in building some clusters out of this product. Not only for using them specifically with encrypting software... but for research.

The SIMD AES-NI are a good feature, AES will still be around probably for another 10 years, and more. Recall that DES maintained effective status for classified data for perhaps 30 years with 56-bit keys. That being said, with these new instructions + these cores + principle of locality (50%+ caching) you are going to get a very strong product for AES x round operations.

Unfortunately, it also leads to more possibilities for cryptanalysis. Side-channel attempts will certainly be harder against AES, but this is more of a security measure on the hardware side since this type of attack ( cached-based timing for instance ) doesn't have anything to do with the encrypting algorithm.

I think more possibilities for cryptanalysis towards AES is a good thing, since we'll be assured ( if proofs of weakness shows up ) that new algorithms will come out for better security.

JMMD JMMD, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

It's an amazing processor at an equally amazing price. Great for benchmarking but I don't think I would ever spend even half as much on a CPU.

compdata compdata, TechSpot Paladin, said:

trillionsin said:

I want it too, and I have a i7 950 with 4 cores. 8 virtual with hyper-threading.

...and I thought I had overkill.. is there anything that would need the new i7 980???

I could make use of it :-) Not all the time or on one program for sure, but I run out of cores and memory very quickly when i am running Picasa, Gimp (multiple filter plugins going at the same time), Adobe Lightroom, Mozy backups of my recently taken/edited pictures, with my wife watching Hulu and email running on another monitor (or doing video chating with her family). This may sound crazy, but with one primary computer in my bedroom and being a professional photographer working with very large image files, this very situation happens often. Currently when my wife wants to hang out i set her Hulu task to higher priority through the task manager so it doesn't lag, but it definitely does effect the efficiency of my tasks. I think i could fully make use of 6 cores and 12GB of RAM at the moment during peak usage times.

Guest said:

where can u get a quadcore cpu for $200?

and what speeds and cache are we talking?

im curious as i might go looking for one :-)

dobocki said:

If I could write some sane comment I would do this, but all I can say now is that I'm waiting for AMD new CPU too.

TJCarey said:

I am quite impressed, but I'll stick with AMD thanks, much cheaper.

mv670 said:

Impressive, and at 999 dollars? wow.

Fotis said:

Nice One! Hope one CPU like that will have all the advantages of i3/5/7 series to one!

jasonk1229 said:

I want this so badly but the price range just makes it inappropriate ill wait 6 months thanks you very much

Chazz said:

The price on this is enormous. I was waiting to see how AMD does with their "apu" 32nm six core. The 1k price point tells me that I won't like their news one bit.

buendia said:

I would give everything I have, just to be rich so I could afford stuff like this

Relic Relic, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

While awesome, by the time I could afford a 1 grand CPU they'll be on a twelve-core . What would that even be called? A dodeca-core? lol

jrronimo said:

Sadly I can't seem to find any boards that support dual-sockets for this chip. Not that I could afford the ~$2300 for /just/ two chips and the board should such a board exist, but it would be pretty sweet to have a 12-core machine for gaming.

Then I could finally play Crysis! Old joke is old, sorry.

Technochicken Technochicken, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Man, this thing really screams. In the review of it I read it beat the old quad core i7's by a huge margin in highly multi threaded tests like rendering/encoding. Also, they managed to get this thing up to 4.4 Ghz on water in about 10 minutes, which is pretty impressive. I will be interested to see how much this will beat the upcoming 6 core Phenom II by as well, as that may actually be a feasible upgrade for me.

flukeh said:

Such overkill! I've have en E6300 running at stock for a while now accompanied by a 9600GT and it has done me fine. Granted i can't run games to their full graphical capacity, but it's easily good enough for me. And only 1/15th of the cost! =O

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Sadly I can't seem to find any boards that support dual-sockets for this chip. Not that I could afford the ~$2300 for /just/ two chips and the board should such a board exist, but it would be pretty sweet to have a 12-core machine for gaming.

Then I could finally play Crysis! Old joke is old, sorry.

You will need to up the price for a dual socket. The 980X server equivalent will be the 56xx series Xeon CPU, which will be very much more expensive than the 980X. Of course this would require a suitable board like this EVGA WS once it arrives on the scene. Start saving your pennies.

zyodei said:

Doesn't this remind anyone of the "razor wars" - triple blad, quad blade, HEXA BLADE!

Even gamers can't get any use out of this. If you aren't using your computer to make money in a processor intensive manner, don't bother...

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