The battle for supremacy is on the rise for two giants, Intel fans have experienced a bit loss with the released of AMD's Octa-Core Bulldozer processor.
Intel has a big comeback with the new Sandy Bridge-E, although it doesn't have an equal or greater core number but promising an extreme performance for power user enthusiasts.
However, similar name applied to the previous Sandy Bridge processor, surprisingly their physical appearance is totally different, in a way that they don't share the same socket.
The introduction of the Sandy Bridge processor early this year targeted the mainstream user and consumers are happy for it.
It brought us fast enough performance for a price that is more affordable for anyone.
New Socket Platform The Sandy Bridge-E processor comes in a new LGA-2011 socket platform; they use a completely different socket from the previous Sandy Bridge LGA-1155.
This means that, there's no way you can use this new processor if you have an older socket 1155 motherboard.
Considering the same architecture design, the main reason why Intel came up with the new socket is that they need to provide more pin-outs for greater number of graphics and memory lanes.
These occupy some space within the processor die itself.
More Cores And L3 Cache The SB-E is available in 6-core configurations as their introductory and we're expecting the possibility of quad and Octa Core next year.
The same die used for the future SB-EP processor for the next generation Xeon which is dedicated for servers.
As you can see on the die shot figure, there are actually eight cores, with two core disabled to produce the SB-E processor.
The 32nm die design is huge, making it the biggest processor available for desktop PC with 2.
27 billion transistors compare to AMD's eight core Bulldozer with 1.
A larger L3 cache is available with 15MB on Core i7 3960X, noticeably located on the center of the die.
The L1 and L2 cache sizes remain the same.
This core performance is also identical to the previous Sandy Bridge.
If you're thinking of buying this processor you are limited with only two choices, the Core i7 3960X having a base clock speed of 3.
3GHz and the Core i7 3930K with 3.
Both have unlocked 6-core that differs only in the L3 cache sizes.
The 3960X has 15MB while the 3930K with 12MB, a slight decrease in its size but a big difference in its price, you have to pay an extra $400 for 3MB and.
Quad Channel Memory Another distinctive difference here is the memory channel.
This new processor requires a quad channel memory, you have to buy four memory sticks for this.
The good news is more vendors are selling 4-DIMM sets exclusively for SB-E.
Using less memory such as dual channel configuration is possible but, you have to take note that this will reduce its performance to maximum bandwidth.
This offers more speed up to DDR3 1600MHz while its predecessor dual channel is capable of only 1333MHz.
More Graphics Lanes And Bandwidth The major advantage of the Sandy Bridge-E is the support for multi graphics card configurations, it provides up to 40 lanes in contrast with only 32 that can be found in the previous socket 1155.
The older Sandy Bridge limits you to single 16X or a dual 8X/8X, with the new SB-E this leaves you more options such as a dual 16X/16X single 8X, single 16X triple 8X/8X/8X, single 16X dual 8X/8X dual 4X/4X.
Intel not only improves the number of graphics lanes but also its bandwidth as well.
This processor supports the new PCIe 3.
0 GPU's however; it's not yet available in the market this reserves for the next future standard that gives you a double bandwidth.
Full Overclocking Potential The Sandy Bridge-E is made for overclockers hence the name Extreme on it.
In the previous Sandy Bridge processor you can only do overclocking with the K-series (unlocked) versions and the base clock is fixed to 100MHz.
With this new SB-E processor you can push it further with more options available from 100MHz, 125MHz, 166MH and 250MHz.
If you combined this frequency to your desired multiplier you can easily get the final stable speed results.
Of course you may wish to push the voltage a bit higher.
No Integrated Graphics When the first Sandy Bridge processor was introduced, one of its best assets is the integrated graphics and the QuickSync.
If that's what you're looking for and you can't find it here, unfortunately it was removed.
As you can recall, the QuickSync is very useful in any of your transcoding applications such as for fast video conversions.
This is a bit loss to anyone who may need it.
No CPU Cooler Another drawback is no CPU cooler included in any of this SB-E processor.
The high-end Extreme edition is made for overclocking, maybe Intel is thinking that you have to choose your own cooler to properly fit your desired OC frequency.
Intel made specific Thermal Solution Liquid for this processor such as the RTS2011LC that will cost you another $80.
For the asking price of $1,000 on the Core i7 3960X, this definitely deserves a CPU cooler bundle.
Conclusion The 2nd generation Core i7 Sandy Bridge-E processor definitely rules as the fastest processor up to date, as various sites are making their own benchmark test to prove it.
The revision of the previous Sandy Bridge creates more improvements thus, ended up into a new socket platform.
This creates some tedious to some users but that's the way it is to give way for a new technology.
A high-end processor made for gamers and power user enthusiasts, hence the name Extreme on it, if you're one of them this is definitely for you.
There are two current versions available to choose from, the Core i7 3960X and the 3930X.
Value wise the 3930K is a smart choice, with a slight difference of 3MB L3 and.
1GHz in base clock speed, save your $400.
If the price doesn't hurt and you're craving for a bad ass processor, get the Core i7 3960X.