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Intel is shipping its fastest PC processor yet

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The eight-core chip is aimed at gaming and high-performance systems

Intel is shipping its fastest PC processor to date and its first with eight cores.

The Core i7-5960X Extreme Edition chip, announced Friday, is aimed at gaming and high-performance desktops. It is based on the Haswell microarchitecture, which is the basis for Intel's latest Core chips, and priced at $999 per chip in 1,000-unit quantities.

The inclusion of eight cores and the latest throughput technologies allows for faster gaming, application performance and video transcoding and encoding, said Dan Bingham, an Intel marketing manager.

Many of the performance gains will also come from support for DDR4 memory, which is not in PCs yet. Compared to DDR3, the new memory will provide 50 percent faster internal data transfers, while reducing the energy consumption between 30 percent and 40 percent.

The Core i7-5960X has a maximum clock speed of 3.5GHz but can be overclocked to higher speeds. Bingham did not say the extent to which the chip could be overclocked, but Intel's comparable quad-core Core i7-4790K in June was clocked to over 5GHz with air cooling. On liquid cooling, the new chip could reach clock speeds higher than 5GHz.

The chip is 79 percent faster than a comparable quad-core Core i7 Extreme Edition chip, according to Intel. Editing 4K video is 20 percent faster, 3D rendering is 32 percent faster and video transcoding from 4K to 1080p is 69 percent faster, Intel said.

The Core i7 chip has 20MB of cache and draws 140 watts of power.

Intel also announced the $583 Core i7-5930K chip, which has six cores and tops out at a clock speed of 3.7GHz. The $389 Core i7-5820K has four cores and tops out at 3.6GHz. The chips have 15MB of cache, DDR4 memory support and draw 140 watts of power. The chips can be overclocked.

Top gaming PC makers like Dell's Alienware unit, Falcon Northwest, CyberPower and Maingear will release desktops with the new chips.

Rival AMD shipped its 8-core FX-8320 chip more than a year ago. Intel and AMD have gradually raised the core count in a battle to capture the desktop performance crown.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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