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Intel debuts six-core gaming chip

Chipmaker introduces its first desktop chip packing that many processing cores for gaming boxes.

Intel has officially introduced its six-core monster for high-end gaming boxes--its first desktop chip packing that many processing cores.

Dell Alienware boxes are expected to use the Core i7- 980X six-core processor.
Dell Alienware boxes are expected to use the Core i7- 980X six-core processor. Dell

As previously reported, the Core i7- 980X Extreme Edition processor was introduced at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.

The chip is based on Intel's newest 32-nanometer process technology. Generally, the smaller the manufacturing process, the better the performance. Most Intel processors still use "fatter" 45-nanometer technology.

Like other Core i series processors, it features Hyper-Threading, which can double the number of tasks--or threads--a processor can execute. The technology, which is not offered on prior-generation Core 2 chips, allows a six-core processor to handle 12 threads.

"The Core i7-980X Extreme Edition is the fastest desktop processor we have ever tested, bar none," said in a review published on Wednesday. "Factor in support for AES-NI, HyperThreading, and bump the shared L3 cache up to a cool 12MB, and you've got the makings of one seriously fast CPU." (AES-NI, or Advanced Encryption Standard New Instruction, is a technology for boosting security, available on Intel "Westmere" 32-nanometer processors.)

As many users will elect to build their own systems, motherboards already available from vendors such as Gigabyte (e.g., the EX58A-UD5) and Asus can take the new 980x chip. Game box suppliers such as Falcon Northwest and Dell's Alienware unit are also expected to offer configurations with the new processor. (Update: CNET has reviewed the Falcon Northwest Mach V, saying: "record-setting application performance thanks to overclocking and Intel's new six-core Core i7 chip.")

Intel also introduced GPA (graphics performance analyzer) v3.0, which helps PC game developers analyze and optimize game performance. The updated development platform supports multicore optimizations and includes support for DirectX 10.1 and 64-bit game executables, Intel said.

Intel recently rolled out Core i3, i5, and i7 processors for laptops, which can also take advantage of GPA v3.0.

GDC attendees can see demonstrations of games enhanced using Intel GPA and running on Intel's newest HD Graphics, including such titles as Atari Star Trek Online, Electronic Arts Tiger Woods Golf, Intel said. Developers can download the new Intel GPA suite of software tools here.