Intel is expected to introduce a 6-core processor designed to crunch through the most 3D-intensive games in the coming weeks.
The first glimpses of the chip running 3D-intensive games such as Napoleon: Total War could happen at the 2010 Game Developer's Conference next week, according to industry sources. The official roll-out of Intel's 6-core "Westmere" processors, however, is expected later this month.
The Core i7-980X is distinguished primarily by being Intel's first 6-core "Extreme Edition" processor based on the chipmaker's cutting-edge 32-nanometer process technology. Generally, the smaller the manufacturing process, the more circuitry can be packed onto the chip, increasing performance. Most Intel processors still use "fatter" 45-nanometer technology.
Like other Core i series processors, it features Hyper-Threading, which can double the number of tasks--or threads--a processor can execute. So, a 6-core processor can handle 12 threads. This technology is not offered on prior-generation Core 2 chips.
Resellers--which have posted preliminary pricing--list the processor at just over $1,000 and show it running at 3.33GHz and packing 12MB of built-in cache memory. With an expected price of around $1,000, game boxes using the chip will not be cheap.
PC makers that typically offer high-end gaming boxes include Falcon Northwest, Velocity Micro, and Dell's Alienware unit.