Although Gulftown processor is not only the first six-core CPU, but also the first processor manufactured exclusively with 32 nm process, , we wouldn’t call it a new generation solution. In fact, Intel offered us exactly the same things that we have already seen in Bloomfield processors, with that only difference that they decided to introduce a new processor model in the Core i7 family by adding new cores rather than pushing the clock frequency up. And taking into account that Nehalem processors have internal block structure, this is not that innovative at all.
As a result, the new Core i7-980X theoretically has 1.5 times higher performance, which allows us to formally regard it as the fastest desktop processor these days. In reality, however, everything depends on the applications optimization. As our tests showed, there are not that many tasks that could benefit substantially from having six cores available to them and they deal mostly with digital content creation and processing. So, it appears that Core i7-980X is an excellent solution for a workstation, rather than a home computer system.
No wonder that at their Gulftown launch Intel decided to go with only one $999 model. In everyday work there is no real need for a six-core processor. Moreover, under special circumstances Gulftown CPU may be even slower than its quad-core counterparts because of increased L3 cache latency and slower memory controller. That is why the new Core i7-980X is obviously targeted for those wealthy enthusiasts who go for the new stuff primarily out of curiosity rather than reasonable interest. Even after the Core i7-980X launch, some pragmatic users will most likely be still extremely interested in the existing quad-core processors, which are fast enough for everyday work as well as contemporary 3D gaming. Besides, the new 32 nm process also doesn’t really bring in too many benefits. As our tests showed, Core i7-980X became only a little bit more energy-efficient than its quad-core LGA1366 predecessors, and its overclocking potential doesn’t even exceed that of the 45 nm CPUs.
Overall, we will have to wait at least until early 2011 in order to see some really innovative Intel CPUs, which could become interesting for a vast majority of users out there. At this time the microprocessor giant should release their dual- and quad-core solutions with refreshed sandy Bridge microarchitecture, which will be manufactured with 32 nm process. As for the new CPU we discussed today, all we can say is: nothing really special.