Tom's CPU Architecture Shootout: 16 CPUs, One Core Each, And 3 GHz

Six-Core CPUs: AMD Thuban And Intel Gulftown

AMD Thuban, 45 nm (Phenom II X6, Rev. E0)

We're using an AMD Phenom II X6 1100T processor based on the E0 stepping. It supports AMD's most recent feature set, including Turbo Core and Cool'n'Quiet. Both technologies were switched off for our tests in order to guarantee a constant 3.0 GHz (though the 1100T runs at 3.3 GHz by default). It boasts 512 KB of L2 cache per core and a 6 MB shared L3 cache. A 45 nm manufacturing process allows this processor to operate at a 125 W thermal design power, and a dual-channel DDR3 memory controller supports modules at up to 1333 MT/s.

Intel Gulftown, 32 nm (Core i7-980X, Rev. B1)

Intel’s 32 nm six-core configuration is referred to as Gulftown. We've seen it manifest as the Core i7-980X, -990X, and -970.  We're using the 3.3 GHz -980X for this experiment, which we drop to 3 GHz by adjusting its multiplier down to 22x.

Despite the fact that the Sandy Bridge design is newer, this is still one of Intel's flagships, if only because of its six-core arrangement, 256 KB of L2 cache per core, and a large, shared 12 MB L3 cache. The downside is that Gulftown requires a more expensive LGA 1366-based platform with triple-channel DDR3 memory. This part is rated for a 130 W TDP.