Sandy Bridge Extreme and X79 Chipset Overview
Intel uses a “tick-tock” development cycle where the “tick” represents a new process technology and the “tock” represents a new architecture. Sandy Bridge Extreme is still a “tock” in development cycle as it is based on the same 32nm process as the LGA1155 processors. LGA2011 processors are the first high end desktop platform on the Sandy Bridge microarchitecture.
Sandy Bridge Extreme processors have a two-chip design that makes for a larger footprint. I was actually surprised at how large the processor was compared to its LGA1155 counterpart. The two-chip design consists of the processor and Platform Controller Hub (PCH). All Sandy Bridge-E processors support Hyper-Threading, Turbo Boost 2.0 and AVX. You won’t find any built-in graphics on the LGA2011 chips, but you do have 40 lanes of PCI-Express 3.0 links. This is a huge improvement over current Sandy Bridge parts, which only support 16 lanes. These links can be run at 16x, 8x or 4x depending on the motherboard you will be using. The memory controller moves up from a dual-channel memory controller to a quad-channel memory controller.
The Core i7-3820 was released after the other Sandy Bridge-E processors. While it does have many of the features of the earlier released chips it is a whole different chip itself. Getting into the particulars the i7-3960X and i7-3930K have a transistor count of 2.27 billion and a die size of about 435 mm2, the Core i7-3820 has a transistor count of 1.27 billion and a die size of 294 mm2. The Core i7-3820 is a 4-core processor, but does feature Hyper-Threading so you can have 8 threads running. Unlike the Core i7-3960X that has a 15MB cache and the Core i7-3930K that has a 12MB cache the Core i7-3820 has a 10MB cache. The base clock is set at 3.4GHz with turbo enabled it will be able to go all the way up to 3.9GHz.
Right now the Core i7-3820 is selling for $319 at my favorite online retailer. That actually makes it cheaper than the LGA1155 Core i7-2600K. The downside to this is of course you will be paying more for an Intel X79 motherboard over an Intel Z68 motherboard.