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May 31 2016

Intel Introduces 10-Core “Monster Platform”

At the Computex fair in Taipei, the world's largest chipmaker has revealed its "most powerful desktop processor yet": the Intel® Core™ i7 Extreme Edition packs six, eight or ten cores into a single CPU that fits into LGA2011v3 mainboards.

An offspring of Intel's 14 nm Broadwell family of processors (aka 5th-generation Intel® Core™), the new line is aimed at computer enthusiasts who demand their systems continually run at full speed – and don't mind high acquisition and energy costs. Among the key target groups are gamers and aspiring filmmakers or other content creators who habitually push their systems to the performance brink by using all available cores and threads. Intel's Gregory Bryant, Corporate VP Connected Home and Commercial Client, has even coined a new term to describe these folks' usage patterns: no longer content to just multi-task, they perform "mega-tasking" – meaning, for instance, that modern-day gamers not only play Doom or Star Fox Zero in 4K resolution, but run live streams of their tournaments that attract millions of viewers from all over the world or record and edit videos of their latest achievements in real time. All of this may sound as if the new product line would mainly appeal to Big Bang Theory-type nerds rather than anyone else – but then again, Sheldon Cooper and company have always served as perfect tasters for what might appeal to more conservative office and home users as well.

Setting aside all the marketing buzz, the new Core™ i7 Extreme Edition seems impressive enough just judging from the specs alone. Customers will be able to pick their personal favorite from these four editions:

  • The Core™ i7-6800K and i7-6850K models feature six cores delivering base clock speeds of 3.4 and 3.6 GHz respectively (3.8 and 4 GHz in turbo mode) and support up to 128 GB of DDR4 main memory. Equipped with a 15 MB cache and connecting to peripherals via 28 or 40 PCIe 3.0 lanes, these CPUs incorporate all of Intel's Advanced, Data Protection and Platform Protection Technologies – namely hyper-threading, virtualization, hardware-based AES encryption, and XD bit – with the exception of vPro and Trusted Execution.
  • The Intel® Core™ i7-6900K is an eight-core model with a base frequency of 3.2 and turbo frequency of 4.0 GHz and 20 MB cache, in other words it's a tad more 'elastic' than its hexa-core cousins. Otherwise, the specs are identical with those of the Core™ i7-6850K.
  • The flagship model Intel® Core™ i7-6950X Extreme Edition sports 10 cores along with a 25 MB cache and delivers clock speeds of 3.0 GHz in regular and 4.0 GHz in turbo mode. In theory, this would mean the i7-6950X is 25% faster than its immediate predecessor, the octo-core i7-5960X; however, first benchmark tests performed by German IT news service heise online suggest the margin may be even higher – in Cinebench R15, our colleagues noted a spectacular 36% performance boost. Aside from the core count, cache size and clock speeds, the specs correspond to those of the i7-6900K.

As may be easily concluded, the new processors are not exactly eco-friendly; TDP (Thermal Design Power, Intel lingo for power consumption) clocks in at 140 watts for all models.

The new Intel® Core™ i7 Extreme Edition is available from online retailers immediately; prices range from $412 for the six-core starter edition to $1569 for the flagship model. OEMs and the courted enthusiasts may want to participate in Intel's Extreme Rig Challenge that's supposed to start tomorrow and will serve as some kind of virtual launch event. The results will be presented at the PAX Prime gamer convention in Seattle at the end of August.


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