Even though AMD's upcoming Zambezi FX processors, based on the Bulldozer architecture, will feature as many as eight processing cores, Intel has no plans to introduce an octo-core Sandy Bridge-E CPU in the consumer market.
The company will instead focus on the benefits brought by its Hyper-Threading technology, which doubles the number of cores available to the operating system.
Compared to AMD's modular architecture, Hyper-Threading requires less die space, but has the disadvantage of offering a limited performance increase.
Nonetheless, Intel seems confident that this approach will maintain its performance lead in the desktop space as the Santa Clara company will only release eight-core Sandy Bridge-E CPU models for the server market.
The introduction of an octo-core high-performance Intel processor later in 2012 can't be dismissed, but this will most probably be built using the 22nm fabrication process which will make its debut together with Ivy Bridge.
The initial batch of Sandy Bridge-E chips will include three models and these are expected to arrive in the forth quarter of 2011.
Two of these will be high-end models that can reach speeds of up to 3.3GHz, include a six-core design, 15MB or 12MB of Level 3 cache memory as well as a fully unlocked multiplier and BCLK, while the third packs four cores running at a 3.6GHz frequency, 10MB of L3 cache and a so-called “limited unlocked” design.
All Sandy Bridge-E processors will use the LGA 2011 socket and feature a built-in quad-channel memory controller, which supports speeds of up to 1600MHz, as well as an integrated PCI Express 3.0 controller that packs 40 PCIe lanes.
According to the Donanim Haber website, the 3.3GHz six-core Intel SNB-E CPU is expected to retail for $999, while its 3.2GHz counterpart, which also packs six processing cores, will have an MSRP of $600 US.