There's a reason why you chose an LGA1366 motherboard over the P55-based LGA1156 options, and that's because of the 6-core upgrade path. Some of you have been rolling with X58 ever since the chipset came out and have been patiently waiting for Intel's next-gen chips. Good news -- the wait is almost over.
According to PC Adviser, Intel's 32nm 6-core chips will be launching in the first half of this year. And as you're probably already aware, these will be based on Intel's Westmere architecture.
The new parts will also come with an updated instruction set and advanced power management tools that will limit the power consumed by idle cores, so not only should they be faster than anything else currently out there, but power consumption isn't likely to be a huge worry.
AMD hasn't put up much of a fight in the desktop market, but when it comes to the server sector, the scrappy chip maker is giving Intel everything it's got. Adding to its arsenal, AMD is launching new versions of its Opteron HE and SE series, both of which will add to its existing six-core lineup.
AMD first launched a six-core chip on June 1, 2009, six months ahead of schedule. According to the chip maker, these new ones boast 18 percent better performance per watt than the original models, though that doesn't necessarily mean a low wattage design.
On the contrary, the high-performance Opteron SE will consume 105W and is being aimed at those who need performance more than power savings. The low-power Opteron HE, however, will consume just 55W and will likely find a home in cloud computing data centers.
The HE chips will run anywhere from $455 to $1,019, while the SE will cost $1,514 to $2,649.
If the latest web chatter turns out to be true, then Santa won't be stuffing any 6-core Intel chips in anyone's stockings this year. Instead, news site HKEPC tells us Intel's roadmap for for its 6-core Gulftown chip has been pushed back from Q4 2009 / Q1 2010 to sometime in Q2 2010.
From what we know so far, Gulftown will be worth the wait. Built around the Core i7 architecture, Gulftown will purportedly support HyperThreading, turning those 6 cores into 12. It will also come with two QuickPatch Interconnects (QPIs), 12MB of L3 cache, and hardware encryption support. Perhaps best of all, Intel's 32nm Gulftown likely serve as a drop-in replacement for LGA 1366 socket motherboards and work with current X58 chipsets.
AMD Socket F (1207) Opteron owners have reason to rejoice, as it looks like the chip maker's upcoming Istanbul chip is on target for a 2H 2009 release and won't require any new hardware. A 6-core chip built on a 45nm manufacturing process with 6MB of L3 cache, Istanbul will go head-to-head with Intel's 6-core Dunnington-based Xeon released in September 2008. AMD had some heavy criticism for Dunnington following its release, saying it's just a glued together triple-dual core processor with 50 percent more cores than the quad-core and costing 50 percent more, among other complaints.
We'll have to wait for Istanbul's release to see how it stacks up against Intel's 6-core solution, but in the meantime, AMD did demonstrate a 24-core Istanbul configuration pitted against a 16-core Shanghai rig using the same parts, both with HyperTransport 3 enabled. With 50 percent more cores, the Istanbul machine produced almost double the bandwidth at 42,000 MB/s versus 25,000 MB/s for the Shanghai setup.
No pricing information or release date has yet been given, although AMD is planning on offering both lower-power HE and high performance SE models.