Intel's fastest chip is scarce so far

New six-core processor is in demand in the U.S. and Japan for high-end systems--and sometimes hard to get.

Intel's new six-core Core i7 -980X processor is shipping, but supply is tight even for a chip priced at around $1,000.

The advent of the 980X is big news in Japan's gadget hot spots like Akihabara, where its scarcity hasn't stopped vendors from hawking big rigs packed with the latest hardware.

Epson's Endeavor Pro7000 packs Intel's new six-core processor
Epson's Endeavor Pro7000 packs Intel's new six-core processor. Epson

Ascii, one Japan's leading publishers of gadget news, is trumpeting the arrival of the 980X while warning the build-your-own crowd that availability of the standalone boxed processor is unclear. "It is regrettable that boxed retail processor sales are not happening yet...and it is completely unclear when build-your-own consumers will be able to get a hold of the chip," Ascii wrote.

Dospara, a leading retailer in Tokyo's Akihabara district, said, when contacted by phone, that it had a few 980X systems in store--but "only a few"--and the near-future availability was uncertain.

Intel would not comment.

But this sort of delay may be typical for a spanking new processor. Kelt Reeves, CEO of high-end box supplier Falcon Northwest, said he is able to get the 980X by buying individual boxed retail processors and putting them into systems. Typically, Intel chips are bought in large quantities, such as 1,000 units, that come in trays. "We'll take what we can get," he said.

A representative at Velocity Micro--a reseller of high-end boxes--said that if a customer ordered a system on Thursday the system would "likely" ship by March 25. But Dell's Alienware unit shows an April 16 ship date for the system configured below.

Here's a sampling of wallet-denting systems being sold in Japan and the U.S.

Dospara (Japan):

  • Processor: 6-core Core i7 980X Extreme Edition, 3.33GHz, 12MB cache memory
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX285, 1GB
  • Memory: 12GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • Hard disk drive: 1TB (terabyte)
  • Solid-state drive: Intel 80GB X25-M
  • Power supply: 800 watts
  • Operating system: 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Price: 299,980 yen ($3,320)

Velocity Micro Edge Z55 (U.S.):

  • Processor: 6-core Core i7 980X Extreme Edition, 3.33GHz, 12MB cache memory
  • Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 5870, 1GB
  • Memory: 6GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • Hard disk drive: 1.5TB, 7200 rpm
  • Solid-state drive: N/A
  • Power supply: 850 watts
  • Operating system: 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Price: $3,324

Alienware Area 51 ALX (U.S.):

  • Processor: 6-core Core i7 980X Extreme Edition, 3.33GHz, 12MB cache memory
  • Graphics: Dual ATI Radeon HD 5970, 2GB
  • Memory: 6GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • Hard disk drive: 1.2TB RAID 0 (two 640GB SATA-II 7200RPM drives)
  • Solid-state drive: N/A
  • Power supply: 1,100 watts
  • Operating system: 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Price: $4,999

Falcon Northwest Mach V (U.S.):

  • Processor: 6-core Core i7 980X Extreme Edition, 3.33GHz, 12MB cache memory
  • Graphics: Dual ATI Radeon HD 5970, 2GB
  • Memory: 6GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • Hard disk drive: 1TB; 7,200 rpm
  • Solid-state drive: N/A
  • Power supply: 1,200 watts
  • Operating system: 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Price: $5,360

Epson Endeavor Pro7000 (Japan):

  • Processor: 6-core Core i7 980X Extreme Edition, 3.33GHz, 12MB cache memory
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX275, 896MB
  • Memory: 3GB DDR3 SDRAM
  • Hard disk drive: 1TB, SATA-II, 7,200 rpm
  • Solid-state drive: N/A
  • Power supply: 1000 watts
  • Operating system: 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium
  • Price: 304,395 yen ($3,370)
About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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