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Intel's redemos six-core Gulftown

Gamers watch and wait

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Intel has given developers another peek at its upcoming Core i7-980X Extreme Edition processor.

Intel's plans for the six-core, 12-thread, 32nm Core i7-980X - formerly code-named Gulftown - were made clear by the venue for the demo: the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC 2010) taking place this week in San Francisco.

New details about the high-end desktop part were scant-to-nonexistent in Intel's announcement, but its gaming cred was underlined by Chipzilla's choice of demos on display at GDC 2010: Sega's recently shipped Napoleon: Total War; the upcoming RUSE from Ubisoft; Geomerics' Enlighten real-time radiosity lighting technology for game developers; and Sonar, the audio-software studio from Roland's Cakewalk division.

The Core i7-980X is taking its own sweet time before it ships. After it was demoed at the Intel Developer Forum last September, word on the street was that it'd be released this February. In December, Asus made it clear that the Core i7-980X Extreme Edition would appear in one of that company's LGA1366-socket motherboards - although it didn't specifically name the processor, give a release date, or offer any other information.

Various reports - including ours - have pegged the Core i7-980X as having 12MB of L3 cache and the ability to connect to three channels of DDR 3 memory clocked at up to 1333MHz. No word yet on clock speed, but presumably, the part will support Intel's Turbo Boost technology, which allows cores to run at a higher clock speed if the other cores in the chip are shut down when idle. It can also boost all cores briefly for particularly demanding work.

Although Intel's Tuesday preview of the Core i7-980X was appropriately targeted at the game developers crowding GDC 2010, the chip is also rumored to be on its way into a refresh of Apple's Mac Pro line. Yes, Cupertino still makes pricey Macs for professional content creators - and not just consumer-electronics gadgets. ®

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