Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition CPU Review

The LGA2011 Platform

The new LGA2011 platform features the new quad-channel memory architecture, and it is coming to succeed the previous top-of-the-line platform from Intel, the LGA1366, which features triple-channel memory architecture.

This new generation of socket LGA2011 Core i7 processors supports DDR3 memories up to 1,600 MHz officially, and 2,133 MHz unofficially. In comparison, the LGA1366 supports DDR3 memories up to 1,066 MHz using the triple-channel architecture. This way, we have an increase in memory bandwidth not only because of the increase from 192 (triple-channel) to 256 bits (quad-channel), but also because of the increase in the maximum clock rate supported.

So, while the LGA1366 platform has a maximum memory bandwidth of 25,584 MB/s (25.6 GB/s) when using 1,066 MHz memories, the new LGA2011 platform has a memory bandwidth of 51,200 MB/s (51.2 GB/s) when using 1,600 MHz memories or 68,256 MB/s (68.3 GB/s) when using 2,133 MHz memories, which was the case during our review.

Since each memory module is a 64-bit entity, four memory modules are required for the quad-channel architecture to be enabled. You can read more about this architecture by reading our “Everything You Need to Know about the Dual-, Triple-, and Quad-Channel Memory Architectures” tutorial.

If fewer than four memory modules are installed, the system will work under single-, dual-, or triple- channel, depending if you installed one, two, or three memory modules, respectively.

The chipset released for the new LGA2011 platform is the Intel X79.

The new LGA2011 CPUs have a total of 40 PCI Express 3.0 lanes for video cards. This allows the following video card configurations:

  • Two video cards at x16 and one video card at x8
  • One video card at x16 and three video cards at x8
  • One video card at x16, two video cards at x8, and two video cards at x4

In Figures 3 and 4, you can see the new LGA2011 socket. Unlike previous sockets, it has two levers that must be moved to install and remove the CPU instead of only one.

LGA2011 SocketFigure 3: LGA2011 socket

LGA2011 SocketFigure 4: LGA2011 socket

Author: Gabriel Torres

Gabriel Torres is a Brazilian best-selling ICT expert, with 24 books published. He started his online career in 1996, when he launched Clube do Hardware, which is one of the oldest and largest websites about technology in Brazil. He created Hardware Secrets in 1999 to expand his knowledge outside his home country.

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