All the motherboard makers we talked to at Computex this year told us that Intel's X79 chipset and "Sandy Bridge E" processors were due in the August/September timeframe. That window is fast approaching, and the Turks over at Donanim Haber have come upon some official-looking slides that reveal how one of the new CPUs will perform versus the Gulftown-based Core i7-990X.
If the slides are legit, Sandy Bridge E will arrive on the shoulders of the Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition. The CPU will have six cores and 15MB of cache, putting it 3MB ahead of the 990X. Interestingly, the Gulftown CPU actually has a higher base clock speed than its incoming replacement: 3.46GHz versus 3.3GHz. The 3960X has a higher Turbo peak, though. It'll scale up to 3.9GHz, while the 990X tops out at 3.73GHz. One of the slides also mentions a Core i7-3930K, which lacks Extreme branding but still features an unlocked multiplier.
According to the slides, the i7-3960X is 12-15% faster than the 990X in Cinebench, POV-Ray, and ProShow Gold. There are much bigger gains in SPEC CPU2006 and in Sandra's multimedia and memory bandwidth tests. In the latter, the 3960X's quad-channel memory controller offers more than double the bandwidth of the triple-channel 990X.
Despite the fact that the X79 chipset seems to have been designed primarily with servers in mind, all the big-name motherboard makers have enthusiast-focused desktop boards in the works. If they're cheap enough, and the i7-3930K strikes a good balance between affordability and overclocking potential, the X79 might be able to lure power users away from Intel's current Sandy Bridge offerings.
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