Unlocked Intel CPUs revealed

Shortly after unwittingly revealing the details of AMD’s Phenom II X6 last week, motherboard manufacturer Gigabyte has now shown an equal disregard for Intel’s secrets. The company has once again revealed the details of a forthcoming CPU, which in this case is the Core i7 875K.

Not only does the CPU now appear in Gigabyte's CPU Support Lists for a number of Gigabyte motherboards, but you can even perform a search to find out which Gigabyte motherboards will support the new CPU. Ten Gigabyte motherboards will apparently accommodate the new CPU, which on the surface looks exactly the same as the standard Core i7 870.

According to Gigabyte, both CPUs are based on Intel’s 45nm Lynnfield core, and both are clocked at 2.93GHz. In fact, even the B1 stepping, LGA1156 socket and 95W TDP are the same.

So what’s the difference? Well, cast your mind back to earlier this month, when an Intel exec revealed that Intel was planning to release a mainstream CPU with an unlocked multiplier. Okay, so at £445.52, the Core i7 870 is still an expensive CPU, but it’s nowhere near the near-£900 price demanded for Intel’s Extreme CPUs.

We’re going to make a leap of logic here, and suggest that the Core i7 875K will be a Core i7 870 with an unlocked multiplier. After all, why else would Intel launch an otherwise identically-specified CPU with a different name? We’re not talking about Nvidia here. Quite a few of the guys on the Xtreme Systems forums also reckon that the K means an unlocked multiplier, and we’re inclined to agree with them.

The Core i7 870 has a 22x multiplier as standard, but unlocking this would potentially give overclockers a lot more in the way of flexibility, meaning you can overclock the CPU without overclocking the rest of your motherboard.

Interestingly, rumours have also surfaced about another K-branded chip in the works; the Core i5 655K. This CPU doesn’t appear on Gigabyte’s CPU Support lists, but a Core i5 chip with unlocked multipliers would enable Intel to effectively take on AMD’s unlocked Black Edition CPUs at the lower end of the price scale. The word is that it’s a dual-core chip clocked at 3.2GHz.