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Intel Core i7 970 Gulftown On Linux

Michael Larabel

Published on 27 October 2010
Written by Michael Larabel
Page 2 of 9 - 16 Comments

The motherboard we used for our testing was an ASRock X58 SuperComputer, which runs just fine under Linux besides lacking LM_Sensors support. Running a Gulftown CPU with this motherboard requires BIOS release 2.70 or later. We had upgraded to the latest, which was their 3.30 BIOS released on 12 October of this year. Everything had worked just fine except for when attempting to manually overclock the CPU. Even when just trying to overclock this 3.2GHz CPU to 3.5GHz or using any of the "easy overclocking" values (which start out at 3.6GHz and go up past 4GHz), the system was not stable and would result in either the system quickly rebooting or Linux kernel panics. We are confident though this is a problem with the X58 SuperComputer motherboard itself and not the Intel Core i7 970 CPU, which in the time since its release has become known for overclocking quite well and being able to be pushed to at least 4.00GHz in most cases. For those serious about overclocking, the Core i7 980X EE has a better reputation (like most Extreme Edition CPUs) for being able to be overclocked incredibly well. As though you are likely reading this article for finding out about the Intel Core i7 970 support and performance under Linux and not about overclocking, the benchmark results in this article do not contain any overclocked figures, but another article will come later when overclocking this Gulftown CPU with a different X58 motherboard.

Intel had sent over this sample of the Core i7 970 in just a small box by itself so we are unable to comment on the stock heatsink fan or other aspects of the retail CPU, but again we are just here to focus on the Linux side of things. For those interested in the /proc/cpuinfo output for the Gulftown i7-970, below is the output for one of the cores.

processor : 1
vendor_id : GenuineIntel
cpu family : 6
model : 44
model name : Intel(R) Core(TM) i7 CPU 970 @ 3.20GHz
stepping : 2
cpu MHz : 3201.000
cache size : 12288 KB
physical id : 0
siblings : 12
core id : 1
cpu cores : 6
apicid : 2
initial apicid : 2
fpu : yes
fpu_exception : yes
cpuid level : 11
wp : yes
flags : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 clflush dts acpi mmx fxsr sse sse2 ss ht tm pbe syscall pdpe1gb rdtscp lm constant_tsc arch_perfmon pebs bts rep_good xtopology nonstop_tsc aperfmperf pni pclmulqdq dtes64 monitor ds_cpl vmx est tm2 ssse3 cx16 xtpr pdcm sse4_1 sse4_2 popcnt aes lahf_lm ida arat tpr_shadow vnmi flexpriority ept vpid
bogomips : 6428.81
clflush size : 64
cache_alignment : 64
address sizes : 36 bits physical, 48 bits virtual
power management:

With the Core i7 970 installed in the ASRock X58 SuperComputer we went with a clean installation of Ubuntu 10.10 (x86_64) for our benchmarking. Ubuntu 10.10 uses the Linux 2.6.35 kernel by default, which played just fine with this Intel processor and all 12 threads were quite happy. With the Core i7 970 and ASRock X58 SuperComputer, the rest of this test system components included 3GB of CSX DDR3-1600MHz triple-channel memory, a 64GB OCZ Vertex SSD, and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 graphics card.

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