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Intel Core i7 980X - Gulftown Processor Review


by Stuart Davidson - 11th March 2010
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Intel Core i7-980X Extreme Edition "Gulftown" - Overview



Shown above is the i7-980X which has the standard heatspreader on top. On the underside we have the Socket 1366 layout.


Under the heat spreader is Intel’s new 248mm2 “Gulftown” core containing 1.17B transistors with a TDP of 130w. This is a 32nm (2nd generation Hi-K) part which contains six processor cores, each is HyperThreading compatible giving us a total of twelve threads. This model runs at 3.33GHz, identical to the i7-975, using a 133MHz bus and 25x multiplier.

The QPI link on 980X remains at 6.4GT/s but cache level has increased over the existing product range. We gain 32KB of L1 Data and Instruction cache per core, 256KB of L2 cache per core and the shared L3 cache increases from 8MB to 12MB.

As with all Core i7 processors the 980X features an on-board triple channel DDR3 memory controller which officially supports 1066MHz sticks with higher specifications available depending on the motherboard used. Like previous models the memory channels can be unevenly populated, such as Channel A containing 3GB, B 1.5GB and C 2GB though the best performance occurs when all channels are populated with identical modules.

Intel also retains Turbo Mode on the i7-980X and this processor runs at 3.45GHz in multi-core scenarios, rising to 3.6GHz in single core situations. When not in use the cores can also be turned off by Power Gate, saving energy and reducing heat.

All of the standard instruction sets are present here, including SSE 4.2 and the processor is 64-bit capable. There is one difference in instructions from the existing product range and that is the inclusion of AES-NI. Essentially AES-NI is 12 new processor instructions which accelerate AES performance in both encryption and decryption.

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