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Intel Core i7-960 Processor Review

November 15th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments


Intel Core i7-960 Processor Review

The Intel core i7-960 is a high performance desktop processor with a Clock Speed 3.2 GHz. The core i7-960 has four cores and its performance is further boosted by the turbo boost and the hyperthreading. With the turbo boost the clock frequency of the core can rise upto 3.46 GHz to cater for the increase in the demand for the processing power. The turbo frequency can not be sustained for a long time, as, it will lead to too much heat that the processor can handle. Real life computing involves spike in the requirement of processing power interpersed in between long durations of low demanding processing power ( But yes some types of applications do require more processing power for long period of time). Turbo boost is an intelligent idea. Hyperthreading, which intel had dropped in the core 2 processor saw its resurrection with the core ix series of processors. With 2 threads running at a time, we are looking for 8 threads running simultaneously. This enhances the performance in the multi threaded environment. Notice that the Hyperthreading has a degree of less efficacy as compared to the increase in the number of core in processing multiple processes. Hyperthreading relies on “cycle stealing”, which attemps to insert the execution of another thread while there are idle states in the pipeline of execution process.

The Table below captures that most important parameters of the core i7-960 processor.

Table : Intel Core i7-960 processor quick facts

SL No.
Item Value
1 Clock Frequency 3.2 GHz
2 Turbo Frequency 3.46 GHz
3 Number of Cores 4
4 Cache 8 MB
5 Memory Controller Triple Channel DDR3
6 Chipset communication QPI 4.8 GT/s

Few things are noticeable about the core i7-960. The first is the 8 MB of shared cache which intel calls Smart Cache. Smart cache is essential a shared cache architecture whereby individual cores are dynamically alotted the cache memory based upon their requirement. This results in better performance if a single process requires a large amount of the cache. On the negative side in increases the complexity and slightly increases the cache latency as compared to the dedicated Cache architecture.


The second noticeable feature in the TRIPLE Channel integrated DDR3 memory controller. The triple channel memory controller increases the width of the data channel by 3/2 times that of the double channel memory controller increasing the memory transfer throughput. The core i7-960 can support a whopping 24 GB of memory and that could potentially make it a good server processor.

The third noticeable feature is the fast QPI bus to connect to the chipset. The communication speed of the QPI bus is 4.8 GT/s supassing the speed of the DMI bus at 2.5 GT/s.

The core i7-960 does support the virtualization technology, and the 64 bit instruction set. On the negative side, it does not support AES instruction set and also does not support intel demand based swritching.

Intel Core i7-960 Pros
– Fast 3.2 GHz, 4 core, turbo boost, triple channel memory controller

Intel Core i7-960 Cons
– Expensive

Some benchmark scores are available for intel core i7-960. The passmark score for i7-960 is 6670.By comparison AMD Phenom ii hex core 1090T has a passmark score of 6,058. However, the intel core i7-960 is priced at $562 at the time of writing, while AMD’s Phenom ii hex core 1090T is priced at $227.49 ( yes at the time of writing). Drawing the conclusion on the price and performance comparision is beyond the scope of the starredreviews reviews, however, readers are encouraged to join the discussion by posting their comments below.

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