Intel has introduced a new line of Core i7 processors that includes its first eight-core desktop chip. Although aimed primarily at gamers and enthusiasts, the chips are also likely to find their way into entry-level workstations.
Available immediately, the latest Core i7 Extreme Edition (codenamed Haswell-E) are the first desktop chips to support DDR4 memory, in addition to being the first eight-core desktop processors from Intel.
The 22nm parts boast 2.6 billion transistors, and offer up to 79 percent more multi-threaded compute performance when compared with existing four-core chips, Intel said.
Only one of the new line-up actually has the full eight cores, and this is the top-end Core i7-5960X, which has a base clock speed of 3GHz, or 3.5GHz with Intel’s Turbo Boost Technology.
This is joined by the Core i7-5930K and Core i7-5820K, which have six cores apiece and base clock speeds at 3.5GHz (3.7GHz with Turbo) and 3.3GHz (3.6GHz), respectively.
All three chips support Intel’s Hyper-Threading technology, along with four memory channels for 2,133MHz DDR memory, and are 140W parts.
Pricing for the new chips is $999 (£602) for the top-end Core i7-5960X, with the Core i7-5930K at $583 (£351) and Core i7-5820K at $389 (£234).
For these prices, buyers can expect to get a better 4K gaming experience, according to Simon Lambden, user experience engineer for Intel in EMEA.
The eight-core chip also offers a performance boost of 20 percent for 4K video editing and 32 percent for 3D image rendering against the previous generation, Intel said, which should also appeal to professional users.
However, Intel is three years behind rival chipmaker AMD with its eight-core desktop chips, as the latter introduced its AMD FX processors back in 2011.
The latest Core i7 chips are also designed to fit a new motherboard socket design, the LGA 2011-v3, which will effectively prevent users of older systems from upgrading with the new parts.
According to Lambden, one of the reasons for doing this is simply to prevent users from putting the wrong chip into a system and ending up with a fried processor or motherboard, or both.
Another feature of the platform is support for the Thunderbolt 2 high-speed I/O standard in Intel’s X99 motherboard chipset, which offers 20Gbps of bi-directional bandwidth for high-performance storage and other peripherals.
Thunderbolt 2 is four times faster than USB 3.0 and 20 times faster than Firewire, according to Intel, and allows configurations such as daisy chaining up to 6 devices on a single port, including 4K displays via DisplayPort 1.2. Thunderbolt capability requires a compatible motherboard, however.
Features such as Thunderbolt 2 and the increased compute performance are likely to see the Core i7 chips feature in some entry-level workstations.
While Intel contends that its Xeon chips are more suitable for such purposes, at least one vendor has told V3 that buyers looking for a single-socket workstation are more likely to opt for Core i7 than Xeon.