Intel has unleashed a new high-end chip, known as the Sandy Bridge Extreme Edition i7-3960X, a 3.3GHz silicon powerhouse that can process 12 threads simultaneously and comes with 15MB cache.
Two other chips, the i7-3930K and the i7-3820, come with clock speeds of 3.2GHz and 3.6GHz respectively, with six cores and 12MB and four cores and 10MB. At $990, it is the most expensive desktop processor from Intel and will push the old i7-990x down the pecking order; it is also one of the hotter CPUs with a TDP of 130W when running at default speeds.
In comparison, the infamous Pentium 4 Extreme Edition never went past 111W when clocked at 3.46GHz, which could well mean that the current Sandy Bridge architecture is hitting its limits.
The new trio was also launched with a new chipset called the X79 which can handle eight DIMM slots and a massive 64GB RAM, churning through a maximum bandwidth of 51.2 GB/sec.
Early benchmarks show that the chip cements Intel's supremacy in the desktop market even more. Intel surpasses AMD's finest (the AMD FX8150) by a wide margin on most tests, but as always, you will be paying a significant premium to get your hands on the absolute best. How much of a premium? Well, the i7-3960X costs £768 at AriaPC while the AMD FX-8150 costs only £200 at Dabs.