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Intel "Broadwell-E" Core i7-6950X 10-Core Extreme Edition CPU Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Intel CPUs in CPUs, Chipsets & SoCs | Posted: May 31, 2016 6:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 91%Manufacturer: Intel

The Intel Core i7-6950X




The processor die map doesn't reveal any significant changes from the Haswell-E; except that the cache is 5MB larger. It seems that half of the internal memory controller (IMC) has been moved to the opposite side of the processor, perhaps to better balance trace routing.





Intel has changed the shape of the edges of the internal heat spreader (IHS); it's now very similar to that of the Broadwell-EP Xeon processors. The IHS looks slightly larger, and the edges should provide better pressure distribution across the PCB. The new processor looks to have roughly the same pad layout as its predecessor, but there is a noticeable increase in bottom-side SMDs. I would assume that Intel has made upgrades to the fully integrated voltage regulator (FIVR), which is responsible for providing the many internal voltage domains from a single motherboard input.




Yes, the PCB is thinner, but that doesn't mean the CPU is shorter. In some way, shape, or form, Intel has to keep the height of the CPU roughly the same to keep the same socket and cooler specifications. So if they reduce the thickness of the PCB, then they have to add height elsewhere, perhaps in the IHS. While a lot of people think that cost is a reason, the fact that this PCB shortening was done on both the Skylake 14nm node and Broadwell-E 14nm node leads me to believe it was because of increased thermal expansion, taller die, or increased heatspeader thickness for cooling.



New Features




As with any Tick, new features are at a minimum since the microarchitecture doesn't change all that much. However, Intel has made strides to expand the performance of the 6950X by providing the OS the ability to rank the cores based on voltage/frequency curves and then provide an extra turbo boost to the single fastest core. This should greatly increase single core performance with stock settings, and I would venture a guess that many people who spend $1700 on a CPU will be apprehensive about overclocking it outside of Intel's specifications.


Right now, to take advantage of this new Turbo Boost Max 3.0, you will need to install Intel's light driver/software. In a future Windows 10 update, this functionality will be built-in, but with the driver, this functionality will work on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.




Intel has also taken the time to expand a few overclocking features. Overclocking each core independently isn't something new, but being able to assign a maximum multiplier to each unique core has become much simpler with Broadwell-E. Intel has also taken note that when users run software that uses AVX 2, stress on the CPU increases as does voltage and heat. With Broadwell-E, you will be able to define a lower multiplier for the CPU to fall back on when using AVX, as to not interfere with your overclock when using applications that utilize SSE instructions.


Intel has also added another voltage called VccU, which deals with the ring architecture between the cores, and should help increase cache frequency overclocks.

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