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Intel Core i7 3930K & Asus P9X79 WS LGA2011 WorkStation Review

The new processor range features a design with up to 6 execution cores. Each core supports two threads, which we all know as ‘Intel Hyper Threading Technology’. This logical thread basis doubles the physical count, so a 6 core processor will have 6+6 for a total of 12. Each core has a 32kb instruction and a 32kb data first level cache (L1) and a 256kb shared instruction/data mid level (L2) cache. The new processors have between 10mb and 15mb of last level (LLC cache), up to 2.5 MB per core.

The processors support four DDR3 channels with a single unbuffered DIMM per channel. Officially they support memory of 1066mhz, 1333mhz and 1600mhz, although as we will see later this is just the beginning.

The Direct Media Interface Generation 2 (DMI2) serves as the chip to chip interface to the PCH. The DM12 port supports a x4 link width and only operates in x4 mode when in DMI2. It operates at PCIe2 or PCIe1 speeds and is transparent to software. There is support for processor and peer to peer writes and reads with 64 bit address support.

Above, a CPUz overview of our engineering sample Core i7 3930K processor. The processor has 6 cores and 12 threads, with 12MB of ‘Level 3’ cache. The new chip has support for 40 PCI Express lanes. By comparison the 3960X EE has an extra 3 MB of level 3 cache, totaling 15MB.

The latest range of processors are based on Intel’s ‘tock’ cycle, before the 22nm Ivy Bridge chips hit retail in the near future.

Product Core i7 3960x Core i7 3930K Core i7 3820
Base Clock Frequency 3.3ghz 3.2ghz 3.6ghz
Turbo Mode Speed
up to 3.9ghz
up to 3.8ghz up to 3.9ghz
Unlocked multiplier
yes
yes partially
Cores/Threads
6/12
6/12 4/8
L3 cache 15 MB 12 MB 10 MB
Memory controller 4 channels 4 channels 4 channels

Above, specifications of the latest range of high end Core i7 processors. Kitguru has already reviewed the Core i7 3960X and Core i7 3820. Today we complete the roundup with the 3930K.

Above the naked Core i7 3930K, it looks basically identical to the 3960X. The 3930K is particularly appealing because it is totally unlocked and if past experiences are anything to go by, with the right motherboard this chip will almost mirror the same performance of the flagship product for a fraction of the price.

Is the P9X79 WS LGA2011 WorkStation ‘the right’ motherboard? Let us take a closer look.

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