Intel isn’t exactly under a lot of competitive pressure at the $999 price point. AMD hasn’t offered a thousand-dollar desktop processor in many years, and Intel’s current flagship, the Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition, remains unchallenged over eight months after its launch.
Nevertheless, the folks at DonanimHaber say Intel is planning to supplant the chip with an even faster offering: the Core i7-3970X. That model will reportedly have a 3.5GHz base clock and a 4GHz Turbo speed, up from 3.3GHz and 3.9GHz, respectively, from the i7-3960X. DonanimHaber claims Intel will also bump up the power envelope from 130W to 150W. The new chip should have the same 6 cores, 12 threads, 15MB of L3 cache, DDR3-1600 memory support, and LGA2011 package as its predecessor, though.
Word is that we can expect the Core i7-3970X Extreme Edition some time next quarter. If this report is accurate, then the faster chip’s arrival might lead to price cuts for slower offerings, or perhaps the introduction of a non-Extreme chip with the same specs as the Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition. Right now, the fastest non-Extreme CPU in Intel’s LGA2011 lineup is the Core i7-3930K, which still has an unlocked upper multiplier but only runs at 3.2GHz with a 3.8GHz Turbo speed. The Core i7-3930K costs $569.99.
It’s worth pointing out that all of the aforementioned processors are (or are expected to be) Sandy Bridge-E offerings fabbed on Intel’s 32-nm process—not 22-nm CPUs derived from the newer Ivy Bridge architecture. According to an older story from German site ComputerBase, Sandy Bridge-E won’t be replaced at the top of Intel’s desktop processor family until the latter half of next year.