Intel 980x Gulftown
Published: 12th March 2010 | Source: Intel | Price: £850 - estimated |
Intel 980x Hex-Core Gulftown
Bringing us more codenames than MI-6 and the Kremlin combined another new year brings another Intel line-up of processors. We have codenames for the process involved, Nehalem being the 45nm, Westmere is 32nm. We have codenames for the chips involved, Lynnfield, Clarkdale, Bloomfield etc.
So although we love to delve deep into the technological side of things here at OC3D, if this is all new you you, don't worry we'll try and make it as clear as possible in the introduction and then leave the codenames where they belong, on this page.
Tick Tock Tick Tock
Intels future releases always follow their "tick tock" methodology of releasing with the Tock being a change of socket or architecture, and the Tick being a refinement of that process.
Unless you've been living in a cave for the couple of years it wont have escaped your notice that Intel released their LGA1366 socket with three Core i7 processors codenamed Bloomfield, to replace the ageing Yorktown 775 platform.
With a complete shift over to a 45nm process, integrating the memory controller onto the chip, bringing back the hyper-threading that had been absent for a couple of generations and replacing the Front Side Bus with a Quick Path Interconnect, it was a huge leap forwards in technology from what had come before and quickly found favour amongst every sector of the PC community. Such a comprehensive list of changes brought forth the largest Tock upgrade arguably in Intels history.
As sure as the hands on a clock endlessly count the marching time, so we have reached the Tick part of Intels schedule, namely a refinement of the original i7 processors we all know and love.
This town, is coming like a Gulftown
As befits the endless codenames that we have to keep track of, the update to the i7 Bloomfield is Gulftown and if you've been following the drips of information as eagerly as we have it's time to wipe that drool off because the product is finally in our hands. So what has the Tick refinement brought to our table?
The primary two changes that are sure to make the hardware nuts amongst us (I think that's everyone then) reach for the Kleenex are a reduction from 45nm "Nehalem" process to the 32nm "Westmere" process that we've recently seen in the i3 range, and in the case of todays CPU, a 33% increase in cores and cache.
Yes this 980x processor has six individual hyper-threaded cores providing 12 threads of goodness and 12mb of L3 Cache. It retains the 130TDP from the Bloomfield processors so, even though it has two extra cores to keep cool, the reduction to 32nm should ensure similar overclocking levels.
If you are the secretive type or perhaps work for the CIA then encryption is something that will play a big part in your life. The Intel Westmere 32nm processors now include hardware AES data encryption. This probably wont mean much right now, but wait until you get to page four to see what a difference it can make.
With so much of last year dedicated to the 1156 P55 boards and chips, those of us who'd early adopted the LGA1366 X58 motherboards were starting to feel a little left out, especially as the 1156 series of CPUs provided such immense overclocking prowess. So has the wait been worthwhile? Read on.