This should not be a huge surprise, but the Intel Core i7 3960X "Sandy Bridge" Extreme Edition processor is one hell of a fast processor for desktops and workstations. For computationally-intense tests, the i7-3960X is a measurable upgrade over even the previous-generation Core i7 990X "Gulftown" that is still selling for over $900 USD. The Core i7 3960X can also be easily overclocked to 4.5GHz in order to squeeze out even more performance. The Intel Core i7 3960X also easily smashes the AMD FX-8150 "Bulldozer" octal-core processor across nearly all of the benchmarks, but again, no surprise.
The only technical issue with this $1000 CPU is the Linux kernel booting issue that was hit a few days into the testing process, which requires dynamic power management to be disabled. This issue is still being explored and there will be an update on Phoronix when any new information is discovered, but I do not believe this to be a widespread issue based upon the comments by Intel and not hearing many negative reports from other early Sandy Bridge-E users.
Coming up soon will be more Intel Core i7 3960X Linux benchmarks along with looking at the thermal performance and power consumption. Also on the testing schedule are BSD and Solaris benchmarks from this Intel Extreme Edition processor. If there are any other test requests, post them in the forums, contact me, or let me know on Twitter.
If you would like to see how your system compares to the Intel Core i7 3960X setup and the other tested processors, it is very easy to compare in a reproducible way. With the Phoronix Test Suite installed on your Linux / BSD / Solaris / Mac OS X system, simply run the command phoronix-test-suite benchmark 1112138-AR-CORE3960X47, which will download and install all of the tests shown in this article and then execute them in the same manner with the same parameters as used at Phoronix. It's that easy and it's all open-source.
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