Today Intel announced the new LGA 2011 platform that includes Core i7-3960X from Sandy Bridge-E family and a new X79 Express chipset. This platform will most likely become highly desirable for all computer maniacs, because it not only allows you to use the today’s most powerful processors, but also supports PCI Express 3.0 graphics bus and high-speed quad-channel memory. In other words, this is the best thing that is available for a desktop system today. Nevertheless, let’s try to find out how much more superior the new Core i7 model is to everything we have worked with before.
If you look carefully enough, you may notice that things are changing. It first became apparent shortly after the release of Nehalem. Intel bifurcated the performance desktop space by embracing a two-socket strategy, something we'd never seen from Intel and only once from AMD in the early Athlon 64 days (Socket-940 and Socket-754).
Intel has a long history of releasing the fastest processors on Earth, and it's continuing that tradition with the Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition. Rather than the next stage of the company's much-touted "tick-tock" development model, which alternates new production processes with new microarchitectures every year, this CPU is merely the enthusiast extension of Intel's most recent "tock": its "second-generation Core" (aka "Sandy Bridge") family.
The best way to think about the Core i7-3960X and the other members of the Sandy Bridge–E family is as a fusing of Intel's last two milestone releases. It combines the six cores of the company's "Gulftown" 32nm Nehalem-based enthusiast processors, such as the Intel Core i7-980X, Intel Core i7-970, and Intel Core i7-990X, with the microarchitecture and microarchitecture of the Sandy Bridge chips, thus uniting the former's scorching performance profile with the sense-and-sensibility capabilities of the latter.
Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition has the same 3.9GHz max turbo frequency as the Core i7 2700K, that's with 1 - 2 cores active. With 5 - 6 cores active the max turbo drops to a respectable 3.6GHz. Unlike the old days of many vs. few core CPUs, there are no tradeoffs for performance when you buy a SNB-E. Thanks to power gating and turbo, you get pretty much the fastest possible clock speeds regardless of workload.