Intel's mid-cycle Sandy Bridge-E processors may have received a more definitive timeframe after a Turkish leak. The initial batch of Core i7 processors, their companion X79 chipset, and possible Xeon E5 processors have a general "Platform Launch" window of between November 14 and 27, but DonanimHaber expected a more exact November 15 date. The release should be a 'hard' launch where shipping computers and individual parts are already in stores.
The peak is expected to be the Core i7 3960X, a six-core Extreme Edition processor running at 3.3GHz. Although its clock speed is lower than the 3.46GHz i7 990X it replaces, a larger 16MB cache (up from 12MB), quad-channel memory, and Sandy Bridge updates should make it about 15 percent faster on average.
The i7 3930K is due to replace the regular i7 980 and won't have the unlocked frequencies. The K badge usually refers to chips that consume less power than a normal model but maintain the same performance. A regular Core i7 3820 would reach the mainstream and could be the 'sweet spot' for performance users on a budget.
Chip prices are expected to start at $294 for the 3820 and climb to $583 and $999 for the two higher end chips, keeping them at the same prices as the outgoing models.
X79, along with quad-channel memory options, upgrades to a maximum of 10 SATA ports, six of which are at the full 6Gbps speed.
Intel has periodically had fall clock speed updates to its processors and usually targets these at gamers and others who might otherwise wait until early the following year to upgrade. They may, however, cater to regular PC builders who want a performance revamp in time for the holidays.
Apple doesn't usually opt to use mid-life Core processor updates but might go for their Xeon E5 equivalents expected at the same time. The Mac Pro hasn't been updated for over a year and has seen Apple wait on Intel for the workstation-oriented processors it needs. Apple has inadvertently hinted at a 16-core Mac Pro that would need the E5's expected eight-core processors to make real.