Intel high-end chipsets detailed
Crash course on Intel’s high-end Core i7 chipsets
If you’ve shopped around for an Intel Core i7 processor, you know that there are a range of chipsets floating around depending what generation you want. With that in mind, below are the two high-end Intel Core i7 chipsets currently used by gamers:
Socket LGA 1366 (Tylersburg)
The first chipset for Intel’s first generation Core iX series chips, LGA (Land Grid Array) 1366 was a high-end enthusiast chipset for Intel Core i7 and Xeon processors, which launched in November 2008.
These first generation i7 processors have a 9×0 model number (920, 950, etc), featured Intel Hyper-threading technology (absent since the Pentium 4 days), had 4 cores and 8 process threads, and were based on the Nehalem micro architecture.
Two special extreme edition chips (965, 975) were launched for the chipset, featuring higher CPU frequencies and a faster standard QPI speed. LGA 1366 was also the first (and only) Intel chipset to support Tri-channel DDR3 RAM support, with future mid-range chipsets opting for the older dual channel DDR3 approach.
These Nehalem chips were replaced by Core i7 and Xeon chips based on the Westmere micro architecture. Westmere was based on the 32nm manufacturing process (as opposed to Nehalem’s 45nm process) and included Core i7 (970, 980) and Core i7 Extreme edition (980X, 990X) processors. In addition to the architecture improvements, these new Core i7 processors featured 6 cores and 12 process threads.
Socket LGA 2011 (Patsburg)
The current high-end enthusiast chipset for Core i7 and Xeon processors is LGA 2011, released 3 years after LGA 1366 in November 2011.
It launched alongside processors based on Intel’s SandyBridge-E architecture, the 32nm die shrink of the Sandy Bridge architecture found in processors for the LGA 1155 socket (discussed in Intel mid-range chipsets detailed). These processors have 4 to 6 cores and 8 to 12 process threads, and are designated by their Core i7 3xxx brand name.
In typical Intel fashion, the chip giant released an extreme edition processor alongside LGA 2011, known as the Core i7 Extreme 3960X. The processor is identical to the mid-range Core i7 3930K; however it features a higher turbo boost frequency (3.9GHz as opposed to 3.8GHz) and larger L3 cache memory (15MB as opposed to 12MB).
The socket is also the first to support quad channel DDR3 memory, which allows for a total of 128GB of memory if 16GB RAM sticks are used. It is also future proof, being able to support the upcoming line of CPUs based on the 22nm Ivy Bridge-E architecture, expected to release in mid-2013.