Only four months ago, Intel was quietly introducing the $562 Core i7-960, ostensibly in an effort to distance its flagship processor line and X58 platform from the new, speedy Core i7-870, which fits in cheaper P55 motherboards. The status quo has remained since then, but if we're to believe Fudzilla, Intel now plans to give the i7-800 series a leg up with the introduction of a new model.
Reportedly, the Core i7-880 will arrive in the second quarter of this year with a 3.06GHz clock speed and a top per-core speed of 3.73GHz, thanks to Turbo Boost. That'll be up slightly from the 2.93GHz i7-870, whose individual cores top out at 3.6GHz. Other features should stay identical between the two chips, including Hyper-Threading support, a 95W thermal envelope, DDR3-1333 memory support, and presumably 8MB of L3 cache.
Fudzilla claims the i7-880 and its predecessor will "coexist," so perhaps we'll see both CPUs selling around the $562 mark next quarter, with no changes to the lower echelons of the Core i7 series. In a perfect world, the arrival of a faster model would push slower ones down the price ladder. With essentially no competition from AMD above $200, however, Intel may have little incentive to do that.
As one might expect, Intel also seems to have new and faster Core i7-900-series processors in the pipeline. The rumor mill has hinted that Gulftown—Intel's 32-nm, six-core, 12-thread silicon—will hit desktops in March as the Core i7-980X Extreme Edition, which will have a price tag of over $1,000. We may see a six-core Core i7-970 in the third quarter.
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