updated 03:20 pm EST, Tue December 15, 2009
Core i7-980X hints at 6-core Xeon too
Intel's first mainstream six-core processor should be fast across the board, a leak late Monday has given away. Built on the 32 nanometer Westmere process and part of the Gulftown architecture, the Core i7-980X will keep the Core i7 badge despite its two extra cores. At the same time, it will also maintain a high clock speed and should run at 3.33GHz, or the same speed as the current quad-core leader.
Level 3 ache has appropriately increased from 8MB to 12MB to cover the additional cores; the processor will likely be reserved for larger and higher-end desktops, however, as it should consume a high 130W of power at its thermal peak and is likely to cost the usual $999 bulk price Intel charges for every Extreme Edition processor. Intel is expected to ship the processor late in winter, most likely in March.
A second new Core i7 processor, the i7-930, is also believed due as soon as February. It will have only four cores and clock in at 2.8GHz with 8MB of L3 cache. Scaling back will nonetheless let Intel charge just $284 per chip in large batches.
The i7-980X is likely to be a strong indicator of Intel's plans for six-core Xeons using the same 32nm architecture and process; typically, Intel gives these similar or higher clock speeds as well as support for faster and error-corrected memory needed for workstations and servers.