by Anton Shilov
05/04/2011 | 12:01 PM
Intel Corp. has begun to send samples of its next-generation enthusiast-class processors code-named Sandy Bridge E to various third parties for testing. At least several engineering samples of eight-core Intel Core i "Sandy Bridge E" in LGA2011 package are now on sale at Ebay web-site.
The chip marked as "Intel Confidential" has eight cores with Hyper-Threading technology, 20MB of level-three cache and clock-speed of 1.60GHz. The chip has Q19D s-Spec as well as belongs to A4 stepping. The chip is currently on sale at an Ebay auction for roughly $1400, which is considerably higher than the price of today's top-of-the-range Core i7 "Extreme Edition" processor.
The chip seems to belong to Extreme Edition or Xeon versions of Sandy Bridge E-series processors as earlier unofficial sources implied that the consumer enthusiast-class processors will only feature four or six cores. Alternatively, the eight-core silicon may mean that Intel is at least evaluating possibility of releasing eight-core central processing units for consumers in the light of the fact that AMD intends to launch its own eight-core AMD FX-series "Zambezi" processors based on Bulldozer micro-architecture this summer.
Although the chips only work at 1.60GHz and do not support Turbo Core technology, one should be able to easily overclock them in a bid to find out their potential. However, at present final frequencies of Intel's next-generation chips are unknown, hence, it is impossible to evaluate actual performance of the parts. There are more limitations: the ES chip "officially" only supports 1066MHz DDR3 memory.
Since Sandy Bridge E-series microprocessors require LGA2011 mainboards based on Intel X79 core-logic set - which are not available on sale at present - the reasons to buy the chips are not completely clear.
The seller claims to have a good reputation for selling Intel's engineering samples and guarantees that the Intel Confidential Sandy Bridge E-series microprocessors are not dead on arrival.
Intel Sandy Bridge E microprocessors due in Q4 2011 are specifically designed for enthusiasts, who demand maximum performance. For example, the chips will carry "extra large cache" to maximize speed of single-threaded or dual-threaded applications, quad-channel memory controller and a number of other enhancements. Sandy Bridge E chips with four, six or eight cores will be paired with code-named Patsburg core-logic set. Platforms based on the latter will feature external base frequency generators and clock-speeds of buses like SATA or USB locked. As a result, enthusiasts will be able to boost clock-speed of microprocessors using traditional methods by increasing DMI frequencies, something that will allow them to easily and more efficiently to overclock their CPUs.
Thanks to a number of micro-architectural enhancements of Sandy Bridge, the new line of extreme processors promises to be very fast. It remains to be seen whether six-core Intel processors will be able to outperform eight-core chips from Advanced Micro Devices, which are due to be released in Q2 - Q3 2011.
Intel did not comment on the news-story.