Perhaps Intel won't keep six-core, 32-nm processors walled off in the highest tier of its desktop processor lineup. Fudzilla reports that the company also has plans for a Core i7-970, a Gulftown-based part that could follow the higher-priced Core i7-980X early this year.
The report doesn't provide many details, but it raises the possibility that the i7-970 will simply be a slower (and presumably cheaper) offering based on the same six-core design. The reported model number suggests the part would be compatible with LGA1366 sockets and Intel's X58 Express chipset.
There's another possibility. Fudzilla says the CPU could also be Intel's first 32-nm quad-core. If that's the case, then the Core i7-970 could still have Gulftown silicon, just with a couple of cores disabled.
As we found out last December, the Chinese rumor mill expects the Core i7-980X to debut in March as part of Intel's Extreme Edition family—with a $1,000+ price tag. The processor should run its six cores at 3.33GHz with Hyper-Threading, Turbo Boost, 12MB of L3 cache, and a 130W thermal envelope.