Intel's Core i7-980X Launches with a Bang  

Posted by Mohammad Talha in , , , ,

Intel today launches its newest processor, the Intel Core i7-980X Extreme Edition, which promises to be the new king of the CPU hill. The Core i7-980X Extreme Edition (codenamed "Gulftown") is Intel's first six-core processor for consumers, more specifically gamers and well-heeled multimedia professionals.
The Core i7-980X replaces the Core i7-975 as the top-of-the-line Intel processor. It costs approximately $999 per chip, which is the same price as the i7-975. (It's therefore no surprise that the Core i7-975 will be going away soon.) The Core i7-980 is truly a "drop-in" replacement, since it shares the same LGA-1366 socket as the i7-975 (and i7-920, i7-960, etc.). You should be able to use the most recent motherboards with an Intel X58 Express chipset; all you'll have to do is flash the motherboard's firmware before you install the chip. The usual suspects will have BIOS updates available on their Websites: Intel, ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI, Foxconn, EVGA, Biostar, etc.
Intel Core i7 980X - Die Map
The Core i7-980X has six cores and comes with Intel's Hyper-threading technology. This means it can work on twelve streams at once. This is a boon for people that need multi-processing, like graphics professionals transcoding videos, or people doing 3D rendering in software (think CGI). Like previous Core i7 systems, the i7-980X has TurboBoost, which can turn off some of the cores and give that power to the remaining cores (if, for example, your photo editing program can only address two cores). It also can "boost" all six cores above the usual 3.33-GHz specs, as long as the CPU cooler can keep up with the heat output. Intel can do this because it builds a large amount of overhead into its chip design, so that its new standard cooling fan can handle the occasional spike in thermal energy. Needless to say, this on-demand overclocking won't be constant, but most of the time a computer is waiting for you, rather than vice versa.

Intel DX58SO - Smackover Motherboard

Another boost in performance is the result of the larger 12MB L3 cache on the processor (up from 8MB on the Core i7-975). The L3 cache is a holding cell for the data the CPU is processing, and more L3 cache means that the CPU has to access the relatively slower DDR3 memory less often. The cache will help speed up single-threaded tasks like gaming, though as seen in our testing, the choice of GPU is still more important to the hardcore gamer..

Not surprisingly, the Core i7-980X will show up on gaming PCs first, like the Maingear Shift and Falcon Northwest Mach V (Core i-980X). Well-heeled gamers are exactly the type of consumer who will crave a $6,000+ system with a $1,000 processor and $1,500 worth of graphics cards. Gaming system builders have a lot of experience combining the extra overhead in the CPU's thermal envelope with liquid cooling to bump the stock 3.33GHz clock speed up to as much as 4.3GHz while running heavy loads. The overclocked processors still cool down while idle, so they're not running at full speed all the time.

So, is it worth it? Yes and no. Our performance tests with the Falcon Northwest Mach V and Maingear Shift show a significant performance bump in multi-threaded tasks like CineBench R10 (a doubling of performance from the mid-range Core i7-870). There's also a significant speed bump for the PCMark Vantage test, which is multi-threaded and measures day-to-day tasks. However gaming tests still depend more on the graphics you put into the system, with the credit going to multi-GPU systems rather than multi-core CPUs. The multimedia tests are starting to reach a plateau of diminishing returns: while the scores are still getting faster, having an ultra-fast quad core and SSDs are "enough" for tasks like Windows Media Encoder and PhotoShop CS4. Throwing two more cores at the multimedia tasks won't help at this time. Maybe they will help when Adobe releases CS5; time will tell. (story Link)

Intel Core i7 980X - CPU

This entry was posted on Mar 15, 2010 at 12:37 AM and is filed under , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


Post a Comment - Blog Search