Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, processor manufacturers raced to offer processors with ever-increasing clock speeds, which more or less equaled performance.
Then, when clock speeds hit a wall at about 4 GHz due to a variety of factors, they took a back seat, and manufacturers started a race to increase the number of processor cores in a single CPU. Intel introduced its first dual core processor for home use in 2006, and it took about seven years for the number of cores in processors for desktops and laptops to reach eight.
“Now, at the Computex trade show in Taipei on Monday, Intel launched its first 10-core processor aimed at home users (the company already sells 10-core Xeon processors, but those are for professional use).”
A part of Intel’s 14-nanometre Broadwell-E chip family, the Intel Core i7-6950X Extreme Edition is primarily aimed for gamers and enthusiasts. Its 10 cores (with 2 threads per core) run at a 3GHz base frequency, but the CPU is unlocked and can be overclocked to higher speeds — if you have the right cooling. It also features Intel’s Turbo Boost Max 3.0 tech, which “steers” applications to the highest-performing core, ideally meaning that even those programs which don’t know how to use multiple processor cores should be running faster.
Side note: You’re probably used to seeing latin prefixes to denominate multi-core processors; an 8-core processor is octa-core, so why isn’t the 10-core processor a deca-core? The answer is: That’s how Intel officially calls it. We’ll still call it deca-core in our hearts, though.
So who needs this thing? In its press release, Intel points out that this would be the perfect processor for virtual reality gaming, be it on the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive. Another application would be video editing, a task that typically makes good use of multiple processor cores.
Unfortunately, the top processor in Intel’s range comes at a very high price — $1,723. Add to that the cost of a high-end graphics card and other components, and you could easily be hitting $10,000 for a single PC. But hey, if you can afford it…