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article imageIntel's new 10-core processor costs more than your whole PC

By James Walker     May 31, 2016 in Technology
Intel has unveiled the most powerful desktop processor ever created, a 10-core enthusiast chip retailing for $1,700. The new Broadwell-E-based CPU is the first deca-core processor aimed at consumer machines instead of servers and datacentres.
Intel is branding the Core i7-6950X as the "Core i7 Extreme Edition," in case its specifications and price don't make this chip's audience obvious. The processor is based on Intel's Broadwell-E platform, a revised version of the company's 14nm Haswell manufacturing process primarily aimed at server hardware.
The 6950X sits at the top of the range. Its formidable spec-sheet will excite gamers looking for the best on the market, boasting 10-cores, 25MB of L3 cache and support for hyper-threading for additional virtual cores. It has a total of 40 PCI Express 3.0 lanes for communicating with PCI hardware such as graphics cards.
Remarkably, the number of processing cores present hasn't dramatically upped power consumption. The processor has the same 140W TDP (an indication of maximum power draw) as the hexa-core and octa-core i7-6800K, 6850K and 6900K, a trio of more conventional CPUs also introduced today.
Intel Core i7-6950X Extreme Edition
Intel Core i7-6950X Extreme Edition
Intel
Naturally, this processor won't be for everyone. Ignoring the price for the moment, having 10 cores available doesn't mean 10 cores are required. Many applications and games are unable to take advantage of more than four cores and simply adding more doesn't magically boost performance in these programs.
Where the 6950X will shine is when multitasking and running heavily multithreaded applications such as video editing software. Multiple demanding programs will be able to run at once, each using their own processing cores. Intel says it's designed "not just for multi-tasking, but also for mega-tasking" (emphasis its own.)
"Gamers are continually raising the bar, driving their systems to its limits. Now they can push their systems even harder, reaching new heights in performance and overall experience. That's what the Intel Core i7 processor Extreme Edition is about," said Gregory Bryant, Intel corporate vice president and general manager of the Connected Home and Commercial Client group.
The i7-6950X is aimed primarily at gamers looking to take advantage of cutting-edge technologies like 4K and virtual reality that push existing hardware to the limits of its capabilities. It delivers a "fantastic experience" with VR headsets including the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. As with previous Extreme Edition processors, the 5960X' multiplier is unlocked, allowing gamers to overclock it and squeeze out even more performance.
The processor also makes light work of creating and editing immersive content. It will allow video makers to edit 4K clips natively, without any of the lag or choppy playback experienced on lesser processors.
Intel Core i7-6950X Extreme Edition
Intel Core i7-6950X Extreme Edition
Intel
"With the Intel Core i7 processor Extreme Edition, professional and novice filmmakers alike can edit in native 4K, create stunning visual effects and compose music on a system that's up to the task," said Bryant. "With up to 10 cores and 20 threads of performance, it's possible to work on virtually every aspect of a project simultaneously. Here, mega-tasking means staying in the groove without the system becoming a roadblock."
All this comes at a price though. With record-breaking performance comes a record-breaking cost as the Core i7 Extreme Edition will retail at $1,723, around the same price as a typical gaming machine running a quad-core Core i7. If you're in the market for a new high-performance PC and money's no object, the 6950X is likely to remain an attractive processor though, especially if you're interested in virtual reality and 4K experiences. It launches today at online PC hardware retailers worldwide.
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