Intel Finally Has a Real 4 GHz CPU

An updated spec sheet reveals that the recently introduced Xeon E3-1290 runs at 3.6 GHz with four cores, but the chip's turbo boost will scale the clock speed to 4.0 GHz when running on only one core. What makes this processor particularly interesting is the fact that it is closely related to the i7-2000 Sandy Bridge series, which would indicate that Intel could be launching a 4 GHz desktop processor as well.

Intel pulled a single core 4 GHz processor back in October 2004 due to the increasingly high power consumption and current leakage in its 90 nm Netburst architecture. The highest clock speed reached by its Pentium family was 3.8 GHz, which was posted by its Pentium 4 HT 570/571 models, which were based on the 90 nm Prescott core. Back then Intel drastically changed its strategy from clock speed scaling to lower power processors that were largely based on technology introduced with the Banias Pentium M processor in 2003. That new strategy resulted in Intel's Core 2 Duo processors with Conroe core in 2006. With a look at power consumption, I should note that the Pentium 4 570 was rated at a thermal design power of 115 watts, while the E3-1290 runs at a maximum of 95 watts. The first dual-core processors, which were available up to 3.6 GHz (Pentium D 900 series), consumed as much as 130 watts.

There appear to be signs that both Intel and AMD are engaging in a careful gigahertz race again. AMD currently tops out at 3.7 GHz and we would expect its Zambezi desktop processors to easily reach 4 GHz later this year.

  • vaughn2k
    As long as the TDP stays below 95W, I'll go for it.
    Increase clock speed is still kinda cool...
  • EXT64
    Not really surprising, as SB can easily clock that high. I'd be a little surprised if they didn't eventually make a higher clocked model to replace the original (like i5 750 -> i5 760 and i7 920 -> i7 930).
  • iam2thecrowe
    IMO its not a real 4ghz cpu if its only 4ghz turbo boost. False advertising.
  • Maximus_Delta
    I doubt there is much changed at all with the chip, everybody knows the high-end SB series consumer market processors can happily run 4GHz on all 4 cores all day long with minimal voltage increase (and no need for especially eloborate cooling).
  • the1kingbob
    but the chip's turbo boost will scale the clock speed to 4.0 GHz when running on only one core.

    I agree with iam2thecrow... It doesn't run at 4Ghz... It boost to that speed and according to article only when running 1 core.. so AMD at 3.6Ghz on Quad core..
    But to be honest.. Intels chip doesn't need to run at 4Ghz to destroy the X4 975... but you wouldn't catch me spending a grand on it... Go AMD :)
  • JamesSneed
    Intel won't bump desktop speeds until August or September. Not psychic but it seems logical since nothing comes close to what they have now and when bulldozer comes out they will bump clocks. Plus by then I would expect a new stepping to allow faster clocks in the same power envelope.
  • jsc
    I agree. It is not a "real" 4 GHz CPU. But that is only because Intel hasn't chosen to make one.
  • captaincharisma
    might only be on turbo boost but it is progress as far as Intel goes.
  • bit_user
    Looks like it's finally time to upgrade my P4, this year! I know performance is about so much more than raw clock speed, but it just didn't feel right to replace my CPU with one running at a lower clock. Especially after so long.
  • whysobluepandabear
    Out of all of the clever code names companies have used in the past and present, "Zambezi" is by far the best.

    "Yo bro, check out my Bezi". (Bee-Z)