WHO WOULD HAVE BELIEVED that the blue and green chippery giants would put up a real fight over a deep frozen CPU overclocking contest? But as Charlie just reported, it is happening!
What about the ‘official’ release parts then? Crisis or not, the bragging rights – and the associated spillover sales effects downstream – are still very much worth fighting for. Yes, AMD Phenom II in both its DDR2 and DDR3 variants seems to be doing well on the overclocking front with those beyond 6 GHz unearthly-cooled monster wins, and AMD is widely expected to release up to 3.5 GHz (and possibly faster!) AM3 models in the next few quarters, all still within the same power profile. A 3.5 GHz Phenom with dual-channel DDR3 would be fairly competitive against the Core i7 965, except in thread-intensive tests due to Nehalem’s multithreading, and as AMD tunes its 45 nm process further, there’s no reason not to see even faster parts this year.
So, Intel has started to take quicker step(ping)s: the new D0 Core i7 stepping, first released in the 920 low end models, will be out next month in the high end Core i7 Extreme 975 3.33 GHz uber-part, supposedly with further DDR3 controller improvements as well.
My estimate, based on the silent whispers last night, is at least 15 per cent more clock headroom than the Core i7 965 with the same cooling, if the mobo allows of course. Talking about your mobo: if it can handle very high base clocks for the locked multipliers of the i7 920, you might be lucky with the cheaper entry too – but the 975 should still have more headroom.
Either way, we have a fun year ahead with the Intel / AMD bedroom fight for the ‘on the top’ position.
Our gut feeling is this won’t be the last Core i7 stepping prior to the hexacore Westmere 32 nm LGA1366 shrink with 12 MB L3 this (hopefully earlier?) November… not to mention that, since the mainstream Core i5 LGA1160 Nehalems also seem a bit de-emphasised, there could be another minor tune-up to those E-step chips like Q9550 / Q9650: Q9550S, where art thou, the low-power OC beast?
News source: The Inquirer