The Roadmap: Sandy Bridge in 2011

Like Bloomfield, Gulftown may end up having a relatively long lifespan at the top of the charts. Below is Intel’s current desktop roadmap through the beginning of 2011. You’ll notice that when Sandy Bridge arrives, it’s going to be limited to two and four core configurations. Performance per core will improve, but it doesn’t look like we’ll see an ultra high end version of Sandy Bridge until at least Q2 or Q3 of next year.

A wafer of Gulftown

The verdict isn’t out on whether or not Sandy Bridge will require a new motherboard. It is possible to make the chip work in existing LGA-1156 motherboards, but that requires additional validation that Intel may not be willing to commit to at this point. The decision isn’t final yet and Intel is telling its partners to expect a new chipset (6-series) and thus new motherboards to support the chip at this point.

The next point of interest is the Core i7 970, which is apparently a cheaper Gulftown due out next quarter. It slots in above the Core i7 960 and 870, meaning it may be priced somewhere in the $600 - $900 range. The very first Extreme Edition carried a $740 price tag. I’d guess that we’d see a 3.2GHz default clock speed on that part.

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  • cactusdog - Thursday, March 11, 2010 - link

    This wont be the only i7 6 core desktop CPU. Intel are being sneaky to milk the market. There will be another one or possibly 2 at mainstream prices. The cheapest Xeon gulftown is only $400 (2.26Ghz) so why would Intel ignore desktop when X58 boards will happily run a Xeon? Reply
  • GourdFreeMan - Thursday, March 11, 2010 - link

    That strategy could just as well backfire on Intel. If you have to wait six months for the other hexacore desktop Gulftowns, you might as well forgo Gulftown entirely and wait a year to fifteen months for hexa/octocore Sandy Bridge. The new AVX instructions in Sandy Bridge are likely to have a far broader impact on performance in terms of software anyway... Reply
  • Triple Omega - Thursday, March 11, 2010 - link

    Well I hope you're right. As right now it looks like even Sandy Bridge releasing at least 26 months after the 920 will still have only 4 cores maximum. Not much of a replacement.

    Also, did anyone notice they broke their own Moore's-Law rule? The 980X only has 1,6 times the transistors of it's predecessor.
  • DrMrLordX - Friday, March 12, 2010 - link

    As I posted above:">

  • JumpingJack - Thursday, March 11, 2010 - link

    "Also, did anyone notice they broke their own Moore's-Law rule? The 980X only has 1,6 times the transistors of it's predecessor. "

    You have a fundamental misunderstanding of Moore's Law, this is not unexpected because it is often misquoted or misrepresented in the less technically oriented press. The proper way to state Moore's law is the transistor count will double roughly every two years for the same die size, or for the same transistor count the die size will half. Yet the best way is to simply say the transistor density (transistor/unit area) will double.

    You can check the 32 nm adherence to Moore's law by following up on the technical presentations that float around the web, Intel published their IEDM 2009 32 nm stuff:
    Also, did anyone notice they broke their own Moore's-Law rule? The 980X only has 1,6 times the transistors of it's predecessor.">

    See the scaling for gate pitch or SRAM cell size slides 5 and 6, they are clearly falling right on the Moore's law path.

    This is not by accident, a linear scaling factor of 0.7 when squared is 0.49 or roughly 0.5 i.e. half the area, this factor is chosen to get double the transistor density each technology node.
  • talonz - Thursday, March 11, 2010 - link

    "Moore's Law" refers to density, not actual transistor count. Anyone can build a big chip. Reply
  • tterremmotto - Thursday, March 11, 2010 - link

    Actually, Moore's law has nothing to do with density nor speed. It was about price.

    Moore's "observation" simply stated that the price per transistor halves every 18 moths. Wether that is due to density increases or process advancement is not a necessity.

    Never an observation has been so misunderstood, and yet have such a fantastic side effect.
  • JKflipflop98 - Thursday, March 11, 2010 - link

    Actually, Moore's law is all about transistor density. I know. I see it everyday in the halls, in the elevator, at my desk, in the cleanroom. . . Reply
  • JumpingJack - Thursday, March 11, 2010 - link

    He has a small point, Moores Law is just an obseravtion of the rate of shrinkage over time, the phenomena is driven by the economy of scale.

  • softdrinkviking - Thursday, March 11, 2010 - link

    where are you getting your xeon pricing info from?

    all i can find from any solid source is the current xeon quad core processors which are running about $2000 on newegg at the moment.

    xeons have always carried a premium for the intel dual processor support, and imho, a cheaper xeon is going to be more "enterprise" oriented and not be a real upgrade for the home x58 platform.

    again, this is pure speculation, but i think we are going to be stuck with our current i7 stuff until intel decides to do a 32 nm refresh on the home line up.
    basically, what i'm trying to say is that i think any xeon capable of creaming an i7 930 is going to be WAY more expensive than the 980x gulftown on display here.

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