Intel Corp. recently confirmed intentions to bundle liquid cooling systems into boxes with its next-generation Core i7-3000-series central processing units (CPUs) code-named Sandy Bridge-E. The firm also decided that it would sell the coolers separately so that to address other platforms. The actual devices will be made by Asetek and sold under Intel brand.
The bundled liquid-based thermal solution – to be offered with boxed microprocessors and sold separately - will be the first time for Intel to officially support enthusiast-class coolers and will also create an additional selling point of Intel’s next-generation Sandy Bridge E-series (SNB-E) microprocessors in LGA2011 form-factor. Besides, bundling liquid cooler with a CPU will indisputably increase popularity of such solutions among overclocking community.
Intel-brand sealed liquid coolers will sport Asetek-made waterblock as well as a large 12cm fan and will be compatible with LGA2011, LGA1155, LGA1156 and LGA1366 platforms. The coolers will also be Intel's first cooling products sold separately from microprocessors. Pricing of the new coolers is unknown.
Intel Sandy Bridge E microprocessors due in Q4 2011 are specifically designed for enthusiasts, who demand maximum performance. With liquid cooling systems it will be possible to minimize risks during tangible overclocking, something which essentially boost guaranteed performance of the new Core i7-3800/3900 chips compared to today's offerings even more significantly.
According to a document with Intel's performance estimates of the Core i7-3960X processor (six cores, 3.30GHz, 15MB cache) seen by X-bit labs, the forthcoming chip for the LGA2011 platform is clearly - by up to 65% - faster than its predecessor Core i7-990X (six cores, 3.46GHz, 12MB cache) across a range of benchmarks despite of lower clock-speed amid the same amount of cores due to advantages of the Sandy Bridge micro-architecture over Nehalem/Westmere micro-architecture, quad-channel memory controller and other innovations.
The rough estimates of performance advantage of the Sandy Bridge E-series Core i7-3960X compared to the model Core i7-990X are the following:
- +13% in Cinebench 1.5
- +12% in POV-Ray 3.7
- +36% in 3DMark 11 Physics Test
- +15% in ProShow Gold 4.5
- +34% in SPECint_rate base 2006
- +65% in SPECfp_rate base 2006
- +111% in Sandra 2011B/Multi-Media FP sub-test
- +92% in Sandra 2011B/Memory Bandwidth FP sub-test
While performance estimates hardly draw any clear picture about performance in real world applications, it is clear that the new Extreme-series chip from Intel will have a clear advantage over predecessor across a range of demanding programs.
In Q4 2011 the world's largest maker of chips plans to introduce at least three different Sandy Bridge E-series microprocessors: two fully unlocked models with six cores, 15MB or 12MB of cache, 3.30GHz or 3.20GHz clock-speeds as well as one quad-core partially unlocked model with 10MB cache and 3.60GHz frequency, according to documents seen by X-bit labs. The enthusiast-class central processing units (CPUs) will have quad-channel memory controllers and will require mainboards based on Intel X79 core-logic with LGA2011 socket. Intel plans to refresh the LGA2011 lineup in Q2 2012.
According to Intel's internal estimates, Sandy Bridge E-series microprocessors will account for about 1% - 2% of Intel's desktop processor shipments by volume in 2H 2011. By contrast, Sandy Bridge chips for mainstream PCs will represent a half of Intel's desktop shipments in the second half of 2011.