updated 11:05 pm EDT, Fri May 6, 2011
Sandy Bridge E chip appears in eBay auction
Intel's plans for an upgraded Sandy Bridge E processor may have been validated after an auction on eBay showed an unreleased model. An engineering sample of an eight-core chip arrived on sale this week and was described as a Core i7 using the Sandy Bridge architecture but designed for the new Patsburg (incorrectly labeled "Platsburg") platform, which represents Intel's unreleased X79 chipset. An X79 mainboard is targeted at high-end users and enthusiasts with an external clock speed generator that would let users overclock the processor without affecting other parts of the system, like the SATA bus.
The design can't be easily identified as representing a particular performance class since it runs at 1.6GHz, well below the 3.4GHz of a current Core i7 chip, and without Turbo Boost. Its LGA 2011 socket is nonetheless a giveaway as no existing Sandy Bridge processor uses the same layout. Sandy Bridge E as a whole should make a few minor improvements to cater to performance users beyond just the overclocking support, such as four-channel memory support and extra cache to speed up tasks that don't depend on many cores.
Intel hasn't yet publicly acknowledged the existence of Sandy Bridge E but is expected to launch it in the fall as a final send-off of Sandy Bridge before it's replaced with Ivy Bridge, a smaller 22 nanometer design with more genuinely new architecture and which will first target everyday users. [via X-bit Labs]