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Even though Intel Corp. plans to release its six-core processors already in Q1 2010, even a year from now the Core i7 chips code-named Gulftown will hardly become more or less mass solution even for high-end desktops. In fact, only three desktop six-core models are planned.

Intel’s plans to release Core i7-980X Extreme Edition microprocessor with six processing engines functioning at 3.33GHz for top-of-the-range desktop systems at $999 or higher price-point in the first quarter in an attempt to offer a truly unbeatable solution in the desktop space. In Q3 2010 the world’s largest maker of microprocessor plans to release another six-core Core i7-970 central processing unit that will run at 3.20GHz clock-speed and will cost lower compared to the older brother, sources familiar with Intel’s roadmap told X-bit labs. In addition, Intel mulls launching another six-core Core i7 Extreme chip in Q1 2011 to refresh the lineup and present the fastest solution for the LGA1366 platform. At present nothing exact is known about this processor, but it is highly likely that it will simply have frequency higher than 3.33GHz.

Specifications of six-core Intel Core i7 "Gulftown" Microprocessors

Name

Base clock-speed

Max. single-core Turbo Boost speed

Cores/
threads

Cache

Memory controller

Memory speed

QPI

TDP

FMB

VT-x

VT-d

TXT

AES-NI

Platform

Generation

Core i7-980X

3.33GHz

3.60GHz

6/12

12MB

3-channel

1066MHz

6.4GT/s

130W

08

+

+

-

-

LGA1366

Westmere
32nm

Core i7-970

3.20GHz

?

?

?

3-channel

1066MHz

?

130W

08

?

?

-

-

LGA1366

Westmere
32nm

All six-core processors from Intel that will be available within the next twelve months will be based on the code-named Westmere micro-architecture, will be compatible with existing LGA1366 micro-architecture and will be made using 32nm HKMG process technology. Thanks to thinner fabrication process, despite the increased amount of cores, thermal design power of the new products will remain in the 130W range.

Although Intel has been vocal about benefits of multi-core microprocessors, it looks like the company does not see any tangible advantages for consumers that such chips can bring. Three models – Core i7-970, Core i7-980X and Intel Core i7-9xxX – which cost will be from $500 to over $1000 will hardly make six-core Gulftown central processing units truly popular on the market. Moreover, since Intel positions the six-core chips only for high-end desktops or workstations, the company does not plan to enable such technologies as TXT or AES-NI that are needed for commercial systems.

Intel’s motives to keep six-cores chips exclusivein the premium range are crystal clear: at present the company has no competition on the high-end desktop market and even AMD’s forthcoming six-core Phenom II X6 “Thuban” product will hardly change that. As a result, the company will comfortably sell its six-core CPUs to enthusiasts at maximum possible price.

Intel did not comment on the news-story.

Tags: Intel, Gulftown, Core, 32nm

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