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6 Cores. 12 Threads. Say Hello to Intel's Gulftown!

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 45 comments

The new Core i7-980X Extreme Edition processor costs $167 per core or $83 per thread.

Today at the Game Developers Conference, Intel previewed platforms featuring the latest Core i7-980X Extreme Edition processor, codenamed "Gulftown," the first 32nm, six-core processor with 12 computing threads.

We've put the shiny new Extreme processor through its paces inside our labs and we're mighty impressed that the Core i7-980X met our high expectations. Of course, at a cost of $1,000 per CPU, anything less than the fastest would have been a disappointment.

Check out a rundown of the latest and greatest from Intel with a walkthrough by Chris Angelini:

Core i7-980X: Hello, Six-Core Computing

For the full story, check out our full review here.

Stay tuned for more Gulftown coverage as we're currently working on a Gulftown vs. Bloomfield showdown.

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Top Comments
  • 25 Hide
    brett1042002 , March 11, 2010 2:06 PM
    Great CPU for benchmarking or heavy workstation applications. Waste of money for a gaming rig... at this point in time anyways.
  • 20 Hide
    Anonymous , March 11, 2010 4:12 PM
    I want to play Crysis, and I was wondering if anyone knows how well it runs on this CPU?
  • 20 Hide
    kalogagatya , March 11, 2010 5:49 PM
    followingtherulesI want to play Crysis, and I was wondering if anyone knows how well it runs on this CPU?


    ahahahahahahaha after buying this one the only crysis you'll be playing is a financial crysis...
Other Comments
  • 25 Hide
    brett1042002 , March 11, 2010 2:06 PM
    Great CPU for benchmarking or heavy workstation applications. Waste of money for a gaming rig... at this point in time anyways.
  • -4 Hide
    dante10 , March 11, 2010 2:12 PM
    would be much better if they can make it cheaper
  • 10 Hide
    lightsaber , March 11, 2010 2:16 PM
    Only $167 per core....let me see this amounts to about $1002 for a processor. Looks good, wish the price was more affordable.
  • 0 Hide
    Abrahm , March 11, 2010 2:24 PM
    Looks awesome. I'll be waiting until a more reasonably priced non-Extreme version of this comes out, but when it does I will definitely be building a new rig to replace my current Q6600 setup.
  • 5 Hide
    sohei , March 11, 2010 2:27 PM
    anyway you can build a dual socket i7 920 8 cores/12 threads platform which is better than 980 and you remain with almost half of the money in your pocket...and about power consumption :
    2 i7 920 must work 4 years non-stop in full load to consume the difference in money of i7 980
    in 4 years i7 980 will be just a piece of metal with no value
  • 12 Hide
    matt_b , March 11, 2010 2:56 PM
    6, 8, 12, 48 cores/threads - it doesn't matter. Programming is lagging far far behind to even utilize these things. We are stuck in an era where most programs are still single core oriented and dual is the new/current trend for games! Unless I am a number cruncher, statistician, programmer, etc, what good does it do to have these when a majority of people will spend their time watching all these extra cores.......idle? I wish more than a core count race, that someone would find the way to break the barrier and be able to up the speed past the 3-3.5 Ghz barrier we have been stuck at for years now. Thumbs up for the cool factor just to have one though, not much else.
  • -4 Hide
    Dirtman73 , March 11, 2010 3:04 PM
    Heck, I should be able to buy this when the price becomes reasonable, say in about 3-4 years. Of course, by then it'll be outdated technology.

    I'm just kidding. It's Intel, so I plan on never buying it, regardless of the price.
  • 7 Hide
    killerclick , March 11, 2010 3:05 PM
    Matt_B6, 8, 12, 48 cores/threads - it doesn't matter. Programming is lagging far far behind to even utilize these things.


    Wrong! 3D rendering, graphics and video editing applications are heavily threaded and until they get moved to the GPU, a multicore CPU is the best tool for the job. This CPU might be too expensive for the performance gains it offers but that's normal for top-of-the-line Intel Extreme Edition.
  • 15 Hide
    mlopinto2k1 , March 11, 2010 3:14 PM
    compfreak93doesnt AMD already have this?

    I believe AMD has a 6 core processor but it does not have hyperthreading.
  • 6 Hide
    shin0bi272 , March 11, 2010 3:14 PM
    compfreak93doesnt AMD already have this?

    Intel already has 6 core single die cpus too they are just in the server market. AMD's 6core opteron came out july 1st 09 (on paper at least).
  • -1 Hide
    shin0bi272 , March 11, 2010 3:16 PM
    Id like to reiterate my support for this 6 core desktop cpu that I uttered (er typed) in the review of its performance here on THG. I wont be buying one but thats only because Im honestly waiting for the 8 core w/HT to come out. Maybe if I start saving now I'll have the money next year or 2012 when it comes out.
  • 0 Hide
    matt_b , March 11, 2010 3:17 PM
    killerclickWrong! 3D rendering, graphics and video editing applications are heavily threaded

    I think I covered this when mentioning the "number cruncher, statistician, programmer, etc," part.

    When CUDA and Stream really start taking off, then these processors may become more and more irrelevant as time passes. As to the "3D rendering, graphics and video editing" people out there, what percent of these people are the majority, everyday users out there? These and the CPUs that follow (carrying even more multiples of cores) will be strictly for the server/business/R&D/Hollywood role while the 95% of the rest of the computing world has no use due to programming not taking full advantage of them. Face it, Intel and AMD are ahead of themselves because no one has figured out how to make the x86 processors clock faster, so they're increasing core count in return!
  • 1 Hide
    HavoCnMe , March 11, 2010 3:29 PM
    Wish i was well off, I would purchase one.
  • 1 Hide
    xaira , March 11, 2010 3:49 PM
    waiting for amd to drop theirs in may
  • 5 Hide
    cjl , March 11, 2010 4:03 PM
    compfreak93doesnt AMD already have this?

    In the sense of having 6 cores? Yes. In the sense of speed? Not even close.
  • 20 Hide
    Anonymous , March 11, 2010 4:12 PM
    I want to play Crysis, and I was wondering if anyone knows how well it runs on this CPU?
  • 2 Hide
    Abrahm , March 11, 2010 4:55 PM
    Matt_B6, 8, 12, 48 cores/threads - it doesn't matter. Programming is lagging far far behind to even utilize these things. We are stuck in an era where most programs are still single core oriented and dual is the new/current trend for games! Unless I am a number cruncher, statistician, programmer, etc, what good does it do to have these when a majority of people will spend their time watching all these extra cores.......idle? I wish more than a core count race, that someone would find the way to break the barrier and be able to up the speed past the 3-3.5 Ghz barrier we have been stuck at for years now. Thumbs up for the cool factor just to have one though, not much else.


    You are severely under estimating the difficulty in parallel processing. It isn't just flipping a switch and magically you use more cores. Programming distributed applications is difficult and only useful in certain situations. Some situations are impossible to run on multiple cores, some are not worth the extra over head needed to spread the computing on other cores, and some situations are great for parallel processing.

    The real benefit behind this is multi-tasking. Being able to run more programs at once without slowing to a crawl. Having your anti-virus start a scan without you even noticing is the real benefit. Some programs can benefit from more cores directly, but having more cores will benefit everyone, just need to wait for it to come down in price.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , March 11, 2010 5:27 PM
    Don't you feel sorry for everyone that's purchased a Core i7 Extreme Edition 975. Reading this is article would me sick!
  • 0 Hide
    buwish , March 11, 2010 5:29 PM
    After reading the review, there is no doubt that this 6 core chip is a monster, especially in terms of productivity. It's just a shame that it has a $1K price tag. Hopefully the planned 8 core Sandy Bridge chips are a bit cheaper when they are released.
  • 2 Hide
    matt_b , March 11, 2010 5:40 PM
    AbrahmYou are severely under estimating the difficulty in parallel processing. It isn't just flipping a switch and magically you use more cores. Programming distributed applications is difficult and only useful in certain situations. Some situations are impossible to run on multiple cores, some are not worth the extra over head needed to spread the computing on other cores, and some situations are great for parallel processing.

    You are just helping to prove my point with this statement. This right here would be an example of why core count is not the answer to a faster computer because of the speed wall chip makers have hit. When it boils down to it, everything benefits from core speed, but most programs (for the reasons you pointed out) do not from core count - which is what we're talking about here.

    Quote:
    The real benefit behind this is multi-tasking. Being able to run more programs at once without slowing to a crawl. Having your anti-virus start a scan without you even noticing is the real benefit. Some programs can benefit from more cores directly, but having more cores will benefit everyone, just need to wait for it to come down in price.

    With this in mind, will the same mentality be used when we hit 12 core processors, yet we are still at 3 Ghz? It has been proven that 3 cores is the sweet spot today. When was the last time you pegged your speedy quad core while playing the latest game, surfing the web, and so on - on a daily basis? I think when it comes down to it, I'm isolating in on perhaps intelligent assignment by the operating system for those programs that are not multi-threaded or don't need to be. How many programs, and what type will you be running to max out all six cores right now? RAM is the helping hand in this situation, it's there so the CPU doesn't have to work as hard doing its job.

    Core count is good for those select situations that are a great benefit (counting industries mentioned earlier), but core speed will win against core count all of the time, while core count will win against core speed sometimes. I feel that the industry has not caught up with the core count craze yet, so the benefits are not there. Just because you go out and buy a 6 core CPU, that doesn't mean that you will be 600% faster - and that's a disappointing fact. When CUDA/Stream hit full stride, who knows what will happen to the CPU as we know it then!
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