Sandy Bridge was a huge leap forward for Intel, but in the never ending core count race, they still have some catching up to do with AMD. Rumors were circulating about a new possible eight-core variant, but now we have proof. An overzealous third party is looking to sell off its preview chip, and the image you’re looking at here is for an eight-core Sandy Bridge part that is branded “E” for “Enthusiast”. The chip shown is only rated at 1.6 GHz, but we expect these numbers to be not just overclockable, but likely to grow prior to launch.
Intel seems to have succeeded at shutting down the auction prior to any sale being made, but this will no doubt pop up again somewhere else. At $1,360 USD the asking price is a bit on the high side, and when you combine this with the reality that you’re unlikely to find a Socket 2011 to drop it into, you’re looking at a pretty expensive paperweight.
It remains to be seen if this chip will ever see the light of day, or if Intel will choose to take on eight-core Bulldozer parts with a faster six-core CPU’s instead. We continue to see quad core Intel chips outperforming AMD’s six core variants in most benchmarks, but some heavily multi-threaded applications are starting to tip the balance. Either way I doubt any self-respecting Maximum PC reader would turn their nose up at 16 threads.