Intel Core i7 980X 6 Core Gulftown CPU Review :: Features

03-10-2010 · Category: Motherboards

By Benjamin Sun
  • 6 cores
  • Gulftown processor
  • Hyper-Threading
  • 1.17 Billion Transistors
  • 248mm2 die size
  • Westmere architecture
  • 32nm process
  • 6x128KB L1 Data 6x128KB Instruction cache
  • 6x256KB L2 cache
  • 12MB L3 cache
  • 3.33GHz clock speed
  • 3.6GHz Turbo Boost
  • 12 threads
  • X58 chipset compatible
  • Integrated memory Controller
  • Triple Channel Memory 1066MHz
  • Intel QuickPath Interconnect (QPI)
  • SSE4.1 and SSE 4.2 Instructions
  • 32nm 2nd generation Hi-K metal gate process
  • AES-NI
  • Support for XMP
  • PCI Express 2.0 discrete graphics 2x16 and 4x8 configurations
  • LGA-1366 Socket
  • 130W TDP

One of the choices Intel had to make was what interface to use with their new processor. They introduced the X58 chipset with the LGA-1366 Socket in 2007, but last year their CPUs were released on the LGA-1366 Socket. The X58 series of motherboards brought triple channel memory, support for QPI of 6.4GT/second and multi-GPU support for NVIDIAís SLI solution to the Intel market.

Intel Core i7 980X 6 Core Gulftown CPU Review Front of CPU

Front of CPU

Intel Core i7 980X 6 Core Gulftown CPU Review Back of CPU

Back of CPU

The Intel Core i7-980X CPU is based upon a new family called Westmere of processors. The CPU itself is called Gulftown. This is built on a 2nd generation 32nm Hi-K process. The die size is 248mm2 and the CPU has 1.17 Billion transistors, the most of any Intel retail CPU on the market today (excluding Xeon but those arenít the same class).

The key feature of this new CPU is that it has six physical processor cores. Each core has 64KB of L1 Data and 64KB of L1 instruction cache. Each core also has 256KB of L2 cache and the six cores share a total of 12MB of L3 Cache. The Core i7-980X supports Hyper-Threading which allows each processor core to work on two threads at the same time being seen by the Operating system as two cores or 12 logical cores.

The clock speed of the new Core i7-980X CPU is 3.33GHz for the core. This is the same clock speed as the Core i7-975 CPU, with the difference being the 6 processor cores. The Core i7-980X also has a Turbo Boost Mode. When all cores are turned on the maximum Turbo speed is 3.46GHz. With a single core is enabled, the maximum Turbo Boost mode is 3.6GHz. The CPU determines what the best use is and modifies the frequency to reflect this.


Intel Core i7 980X 6 Core Gulftown CPU Review X58 chipset diagram

X58 chipset diagram


The Core i7-980X CPU is supported by any motherboard using the X58 chipset. Most motherboard manufacturers including Intel, ASUS, GIGABYTE and others have updated the BIOS on their website to reflect support for the new CPU. During testing of the i7-980X CPU I will be testing it on several of the motherboards on the X58 including the older X58SO using the latest drivers and two newer boards with more features.

Intel introduced MultiMedia extensions way back in the days of the Pentium Pro to help the processor handle gaming. Since then they have released new processor instruction sets including the Streaming SIMD Extensions 1-4.2, the Intel x86-64 bit instructions and many more. The Advanced Encryption Standard is a new set of instructions that speed up applications doing encryption and decryption. There are six new instructions first introduced with the Clarkdale CPUs. Hereís a chart comparing the new CPU to the other Core i7 LGA-1366 CPUs on the market today:


Processor number Intel Smart Cache Clock Speed QPI Speed Memory Type/Speed Integrated Memory Controller Intel HyperThreading technology Quad Core Six Core Intel 64 Current Pricing
i7-975XE 8MB 3.33GHz 6.4GT/second DDR3 800/1066MHz 3 Channels, 2 DIMMs/channel Yes Yes No Yes $999
i7-965XE 8MB 3.2GHz 6.4GT/second DDR3 800/1066MHz 3 Channels, 2 DIMMs/channel Yes Yes No Yes $969
i7-950 8MB 3.06GHz 4.8GT/second DDR3 800/1066MHz 3 Channels, 2 DIMMs/channel Yes Yes No Yes $569
i7-940 8MB 2.93GHz 4.8GT/second DDR3 800/1066MHz 3 Channels, 2 DIMMs/channel Yes Yes No Yes $558
i7-920 8MB 2.66GHz 4.8GT/second DDR3 800/1066MHz 3 Channels, 2 DIMMs/channel Yes Yes No Yes $279
i7-980X 12MB 3.33GHz 6.4GT/second DDR3 800/1066 3 Channels, 2 DIMM/channel Yes No Yes Yes $999
i7-930 12MB 2.80GHz 4.8GT/s DDR3 800/1066 3 channels/2 DIMM/channel Yes Yes No Yes $294.99