Despite reports to the contrary, it seems Intel's next-gen enthusiast platform may arrive before the end of the year. Previous rumors suggested it had been delayed from Q4 2011 to January 2012 due to some issues with the new LGA2011 processors, known as Sandy Bridge-E, and the X79 chipset. But according to Turkish site DonanimHaber the platform launch is set for weeks 46-47 – the site ventures to say it'll be on November 15.

The initial lineup will reportedly comprise of the Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition, Core i7-3930K and Core i7-3820. The first two are six-core parts and like other Extreme Edition and K series processors they will have an unlocked multiplier, giving enthusiasts more flexibility with overclocking. All three are expected to have the same 130W TDP as current high-end desktop parts, and would be priced at $999, $583 and $294, respectively.

Slides posted by DonanimHaber show the Core i7 3960X outperforming the Core i7 990X by about 15% on average. That margin should be higher in applications that rely heavily on memory bandwidth due to the platform's support of quad-channel memory. Xbit Labs compiled some rough performance estimates comparing the Sandy Bridge E-series Core i7-3960X and Core i7-990X based on numbers from Intel internal tests and came up with the following:

  • +13% in Cinebench 1.5
  • +12% in POV-Ray 3.7
  • +36% in 3DMark 11 Physics Test
  • +15% in ProShow Gold 4.5
  • +34% in SPECint_rate base 2006
  • +65% in SPECfp_rate base 2006
  • +111% in Sandra 2011B/Multi-Media FP sub-test
  • +92% in Sandra 2011B/Memory Bandwidth FP sub-test

We'll reserve judgment until we can put one of these to the test, but these figures should give you an idea of the performance gains to be expected from Intel's new Extreme-series chip across a range of applications.