Intel is converting everything to Ivy Bridge, everything, that is, except its fastest desktop chip. According to Turkish sleuthing site Donanimhaber.com, the company is readying a successor to the i7-3960X Extreme Edition that still relies on the last generation Sandy Bridge architecture.
Reportedly named -- surprise, surprise -- the i7-3970X Extreme Edition, it will retain the six-core, 12-thread design of its predecessor, along with its other key specs, like 15MB of L3 cache, 150W TDP, and unlocked multiplier for easier overclocking. The one crucial difference will be in clock speed, as the i7-3970X will have a 3.5GHz base speed, with a 4GHz Turbo mode (compared to 3.3GHz and 3.9GHz, respectively, for the i7-3960X).
You can bet one other thing won't change when the new CPU is launched: the price. Intel has held firm on the pricing of its premier Extreme Edition desktop processor at $1,000, and since AMD doesn't even bother to price any of its processors close to that point, there's no reason to expect any change in the strategy.
Intel is presumably skipping Ivy Bridge in order to provide a more complete refresh of the Extreme Edition with the forthcoming Haswell 22nm microarchitecture, which will require a new socket (LGA 1150) and can provide up to 32MB of L3 cache. That could come out sometime in 2013, but if you're a well-heeled enthusiast, are you willing to wait until then, or will you drop a grand on the i7-3970X?