Haswell-E – Intel Core i7 5960X Review


Haswell-E is a big step forward for the desktop market, bringing 8 cores along with the support for the new DDR4 RAM. However, the architecture is the same we already know very well from the mainstream Haswell, so there is no major news regarding architecture.


Even though we have heard rumors regarding a native 12 core design, the desktop Haswell-E has a native 8 core / 16 thread design, with 20MB L3 cache shared by all cores. The manufacturing process is the same 22nm with tri-gate transistors, and the 2.6 billion transistors fit comfortably in 356 mm2. IB-E had 1.86 billion transistors and a 257 mm2 die, while SB-E had 2.27 transistors and a big 434 mm2 die size.

OF course, when you squeeze 2.6 billion transistors and 8 cores into a small silicone die the clocks cannot go as high as the mainstream quad-cores, so Intel Core i7 5960X has a base clock of 3GHz, going up to 3.3GHz on 8 cores and 3.5 GHz when it only uses 1 or 2 cores. Compared to Core i7 4960X, which has a base clock of 3.6GHz for 6 cores and Core i7 4790K which has a base clock for 4GHz, the stock clocks we see on 5960X are really not that impressive. However, clock speed is not everything… at least not always.


The PCI-Express controller is similar with what we could see on Ivy Bridge-E, namely 40 PCI-E 3.0 lanes, more then enough for multi-card configurations (16x/16x, 16x/16x/8x or 16x/8x/8x/8x. Also, Haswell-E is the first desktop CPU that supports DDR4 in quad-channel configuration.

However, like any new standard, the DDR4 RAM will not impress us at first and their true potential will become obvious once the technology reaches maturity. The DDR3 technology has reached complete maturity but we should not forget that in the beginning DDR3 came in 1066MHz flavors while DDR4 is starting from 2133 MHz. The DDR3 RAM reached 3100MHz on some kits, while DDR4 can only reach 3000MHz at the moment, with huge timings.

However, this will change with time and we will see DDR4 kits that come from the factory with 4000MHz ratings and much more affordable prices compared with what we can see now. What we have to remember is that at the moment we cannot compare DDR4 performance with DDR3 performance because in the beginning they will most likely loose to the 7 year old mature technology. What we can see for sure is that DDR4 needs less power compared to DDR3 (1.2v).

However, the news don’t stop here. With Haswell-E launch we also get a new chipset, which offers 14 USb ports (6 x USB 3.0 and 8 x USB 2.0), 8 PCI-Express 2.0 lanes and 10 S-ATA 3 ports. And even though the socket still has 2011 pins, it is called LGA 2011 – v3 and it is not compatible with older LGA 2011 CPU’s. And one some extreme overclocking motherboards we will also see a similar socket compatible with Haswell-E which has 2084 pins…



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