According to news and rumor site Fudzilla, socket 1366 owners won't have to wait too terribly long before being able to step up to six cores, though at $999, the flagship chip won't come cheap.
Fudzilla says Intel will start shipping its upcoming Core i7 980X in March, which will be Intel's first six-core part developed in 32nm Westmere architecture. It will sport the same 3.33GHz frequency as the quad-core Core i7 975, as well as the same Turbo clock. And once again, official triple-channel memory support will be limited to 1066MHz.
Other specs include 12MB of cache, 6.4GB/s QPI, 12 threads via Hyperthreading, and a 130W TDP.
The Leo will reportedly combine a 45nm Phenom II series processor with either the 890FX or 890GX (RD890) northbridge and SB850 southbridge chipsets and an ATI Radeon HD 5000 series graphics card. This high-end desktop platform will also support AMD's upcoming six-core Thuban CPU, as per the report.
Moving on to the other platform, the sources said that the Dorado will bring together an Athlon II CPU, 880G (RS880P) northbridge and SB810 southbridge and HD 5000 series GPU. AMD refused to comment when contacted by Digitimes, saying that it cannot comment on unannounced products.
AMD over the weekend added to its Opteron line with a new series boasting six-cores and a low 40W ACP. That's the same power rating as AMD's quad-core chips released in April of this year.
"Unlike other chips manufactured by the competition [Intel Xeon], our six-core Opteron retains certain, much-loved features that are consistent with AMD's quad-core iteration," AMD spokesperson Brent Kerby told TGDaily. "For example, we have not reduced the memory speed, bus support, hyperthreading, or cache size. As such, deployment of the 40W Opteron will undoubtedly extend well beyond Cloud 2.0 and social media environments."
Remarkably, the wattage breaks down to about 6.67W per core. As John Fruehe, Director of Business Development for Server/Workstation products at AMD, points out in a blog post, single-core processors consumed up to 58W per core just six years ago.
But it's not all about power savings. Compared to AMD's quad-core Opteron, the company claims the new six-core part offers up to 30 percent better performance, while significantly lowering memory investment in Cloud computing servers compared to Intel's Xeon platform.
Move over quad-core and make room for six-core chips. Intel is ready to start promoting its six-core Westmere processors, which the chip maker plans to talk at length about at this year's Intel Developer's Forum (IDF) in September.
Aimed at both desktops and notebooks, the 32nm Westmere processor will be built around Intel's Nehalem architecture. Production will begin before the end of the year with a formal launch expected in early 2010.
"Where Nehalem was new chip architecture design, Westmere is the next design being used to build processors that feature two 32nm cores with 4MB of cache that sit next to a memory controller and integrated graphics built on a separate, neighboring 45nm chip, all in one package. Westmeres will be the basis of upcoming all new Core chips (Core i3, i5, and 7) over the next few months," Intel wrote in a blog post.
Intel also has an eight-core Nehalem EX processor planned for later this year, but those will be aimed at two-socket servers, not home desktops.
Getting bored with Core i7 already? That's okay, because word on the web is that Intel plans to release its six-core Gulftown processor sometime in the first half of 2010, and possibly by Q1.
What's believed to be the first product shots of the six-core part have been leaked to the web. Likely to be called Core i9, the pictures show off the new chips in a dual-socket motherboard that's either an existing Xeon-based socket LGA1366 mobo or a next-gen Skulltrail platform. Either way, that's 12 cores of processing power, and 24 cores with hyperthreading enabled.
According the alleged screen grabs, the engineering sample spied in the photos comes clocked at 2.4GHz courtesy of a 133MHz bus speed and 18X multiplier, along with 12MB of L3 cache.
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.
In a press release issued yesterday, AMD laid out a few surprises in its server platform roadmap that the company says are "game-changing," and perhaps indicative of a new-look AMD focused on design without the burden of manufacturing. We have to admit we like what we're seeing, starting with the announcement that the new monolithic six-core Opteron, code named Istanbul, will be released this June months ahead of schedule. But that's only the beginning.
AMD also announced a new integrated memory controller technology, Direct Connect Architecture 2.0, which it says will support up to 12 cores initially, offer improved memory and I/O capabilities, near native virtualization performance, and a range of full-featured power bands that place a priority on low power consumption.
But wait, there's more! In 2010, AMD says it will ship the Opteron 6000 series for 2P and 4P servers. The Magny-Cours processors will come in 8-core and 12-core flavors debuting on the G34 socket and the Maranello platform. And then in 2011, AMD will introduce the Interlagos 12- and 16-core processor based on the Bulldozer core and built on a 32nm manufacturing process.
Here's hoping AMD will show this same aggressiveness on the desktop.
On September 15th, Intel is expected to unveil its Xeon 7400 series Dunnington processor. What makes the server chip so special is it will be the first six-core processor, and likely the last Penryn to make a debut before the Nehalem microarchitecture takes over starting with the Core i7.
In another first, Dunnington will be the first Intel chip to sport a monolithic design, meaning all six cores will come on one slice of silicon. By contrast, the Core 2 Quad and four-core Xeon processors to date integrate two dual-core chips in a single package.
In addition to having six cores, the server market hopes to get big performance gains from the large 16MB of shared L3 cache. According to Intel senior vice president Pat Gelsinger, Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard, and Dell will have product announcements related to the Xeon 7400 series in September.