Intel's first six-core processor for desktops on sale

The processor will run at speeds of up to 3.6GHz

A European online retailer has started selling Intel's first six-core processor for desktops before the chip's official release by the hardware giant.

A German retailer Alternate is selling the Intel Core i7-980 Extreme Edition processor, code-named "Gulftown," for €1.099 (US$1,483). The chip is targeted at desktops used by enthusiasts like gamers.

The six-core processor will run at speeds up to 3.6GHz and include 12MB of L3 cache, according to the Web site, which lists the details in German. Each core will be able to run two threads, which means the processor will be able to run 12 core simultaneously for faster processing. The processor will support DDR3 memory.

Intel did not immediately comment on the listing of the product or its official release date.

Intel until now has sold dual-core and quad-core chips for desktops. Intel has sold six-core chips only for servers. The six-core, Xeon 7400 series of chips, code-named Dunnington, were based on the Penryn architecture and originally released in 2008.

The Gulftown chips bring speed and power enhancements over Intel's existing chips for enthusiast desktops. In addition to more cores, the processors will cut existing bottlenecks to enable faster data transfers. The chips are made using the advanced 32-nanometer process, which will reduce power leaks compared to earlier quad-core chips, which were made using the 45-nm process.

The Gulftown chip could also be the first in a new wave of processors released by Intel made using the 32-nm process. The chip maker earlier this year launched the first 32-nm process chips for mainstream desktops and laptops.

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