Ultra high end chip with massive new socket to claim he performance crown.

Intel’s Sandy Bridge-E luxury play

New LGA-2011 socket and X79 chipset mates with ultra high-end Core i7 3960X in prestige high-end platform.

Based on a new larger socket, new chipset and a mighty six-core i7 processor, the Intel Sandy Bridge-E platform is squarely aimed at performance enthusiasts, professionals and gamers with a lot of money.

The Intel Core i7 3960X is one of the largest chips ever made, featuring nearly 2.3 billion transistors on a massive die larger than 400mm square. Clocked at 3.3GHz with turbo frequencies up to 3.9GHz, there’s little doubt that there’s a lot of power here for those that can afford it.

The mighty 3960X has a smaller brother, the Core i7-3930K which features 12MB instead of 15MB of L3 cache, still rather a lot for a desktop chip. The extra 3MB of cache on the top-end chip also raises the price from the 3930K’s $555 to an eye-watering $990. If you’re buying a thousand.

Anandtech’s Anand Lal Shimpi was unconvinced of the performance benefits of Intel’s high-end play, saying: "What the 3960X doesn’t do is make your gaming experience any better or speed up the majority of desktop applications."

Lal Shimpi was also less than impressed by the new X79 chipset, saying "what we got was effectively a 6-series chipset with a new name," concluding that the chipset "falls short" of expectations.

Realistically, Intel’s ultra high end Sandy Bridge-E platform clearly only makes sense professionals that can execute multi-threaded workloads but Intel is playing the prestige card, citing id Software’s John Carmack as saying that six-cores would provide a performance benefit for RAGE.

For those that have the best, this will be enough.

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