What is Gulftown Processor? (Explained)

What is Gulftown Processor?

The Gulftown processor is designed by Intel, and it refers to the codename of the Westmere EP microarchitecture. These processors are built on a 32 nm manufacturing process and support the x86-64 Instruction Set Architecture or ISA.

From a technical point of view, these processors support a word size of 64 bits, and the die is built on the CMOS or Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor technology.


  • The Gulftown processor is the codename of the Westmere microarchitecture on which it is designed by the Research and Development team of Intel.
  • The processors are made on a 32 nm fabrication process and the chip is built on the common CMOS technology.
  • The CPUs support a 64-bit word size and the x86-64 Instruction Set Architecture along with a few significant extensions of it as well.
  • The Gulftown processors are designed and manufactured while keeping several applications in mind and were first launched on March 10, 2010.
  • These processors are the successors to the Bloomfield processors and the predecessors of the Sandy Bridge E processors.

Understanding Gulftown Processor

What is Gulftown Processor

The Gulftown processors indicate the codename of the six-core CPUs with hyperthreading ability, running all 12 threads at the same time to execute instructions given to it in parallel to produce the results in quick time.

The Westmere microarchitecture and the 32 nm manufacturing process, along with the other features, allow the Gulftown processors to offer relatively higher and better performance in comparison to their predecessors, the Bloomfield processors.

Depending on the type of software used, the Gulftown processors offered as much as 50% higher performance in comparison to the Bloomfield Core i7 975 processors with four cores at the same clock rates.

It is mainly due to the 32 nanometer manufacturing process, which draws the same, if not less, power than its Bloomfield counterparts with four cores, depending on the operating system in question.

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Another significant reason is the Thermal Design Power or TDP of the Gulftown models which is capped at 130 watts.

Brand Names

The Gulftown processors were rumored to be called the Intel Core i9 processors originally. However, it was actually sold as Intel Core i7 CPUs.

These processors, which were succeeded by the Sandy Bridge E processors, were first launched as the Core i7 980X on March 10, 2010.

Along with it, however, its server counterparts were also released and were called the Xeon 3600 and the Xeon 5600 with dual sockets. The CPUs of this series, however, used identical chips.

Here is a brief description of each of these processors summarized for your better understanding:

  • The Intel Core i7 990X, Core i7 980X, and the Intel Xeon 36xx processors are equipped with six cores and a 12 MB Level 3 cache. All these processors support the Land Grid Array or LGA 1366 socket type and the QuickPath I/O bus. The TDP of all these processors is restricted to 130 watts.
  • The Intel Xeon 56xx processors, on the other hand, may come with a number of cores ranging between 2 and 6, and also have the same amount of L3 cache and the same type of LGA socket. They also support the QuickPath I/O bus, but the TDP may vary and range anywhere between 40 watts and 130 watts.

General Information

Here is the general information about the performance, along with a few notable physical and technical aspects of the Gulftown processors summarized for you:

  • The Gulftown processors are typically equipped with six physical cores and 12 logical cores, which expedites its processing speed and ability.
  • The maximum clock rate that can be achieved by the cores of these processors usually ranges between 3.2 GHz and 3.46 GHz, which is quite good for handling most of the computing tasks, given the fact that it can handle them in parallel.
  • The Level 2 cache memory of the Gulftown processors measures 256 KB for each of the six cores.
  • The Westmere microarchitecture of this processor, which is built on the CMOS or Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor technology, supports a word size of 64 bits.
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Perhaps one of the most significant aspects of the architectural design of the Gulftown processor architecture is its L3 cache size.

This may be shared by all the six cores in them, but the 12 MB capacity of it helps the cores to operate at a much faster speed.

Instruction Set architecture and Extensions Support

The Gulftown processors support the x86-64 Instruction Set Architecture or ISA. In addition to that, the architecture also supports some of the extensions of it such as:

  • MMX or MultiMedia eXtensions
  • AES-NI or Advanced Encryption Standard New Instructions
  • SSE or Streaming SIMD Extensions, along with all its variants such as SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, SSE4.1, and SSE4.2


Quite naturally, with all these specs, features and functionalities, the Gulftown processors can be used in a wide range of application which include:

  • User plane or Data Plane servers
  • Workstation
  • Gaming
  • Computing

In fact, after a couple of years after the release of the Intel Xeon 3600 and Intel Xeon 5600 series Westmere-EP CPUs, these processors became one of the most sought-after chips for a system upgrade and for the earlier X58 motherboards.

Overclocking by BIOS Revisions

There are also a few specific instances where a few simple revisions made to the Basic Input Output System or BIOS of the motherboard have made it easy to install these six-core CPUs and overclock them.

This can be done even on those boards that were basically targeted for pairing with dual or quad core processors.

Ideally, it is the features of the Gulftown processors that help it to deliver output in quick time and assure a consistently high level of system performance, all in all, even while handling multi-threaded workloads at full potential.

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The performance will increase by a value that is equal to the additional number of cores that you get from the processors.

If you consider the math involved in it, when you move from a quad-core processor of 2.6 GHz to a six core CPU of the same operational frequency, you will experience an increase in the performance by as much as 50% for more multithreaded performance.

That is what happens with the Gulftown processors, provided that they are supported by a proper BIOS and the right type of supporting components, software and operating system.

It is even not uncommon for users to be able to increase the overclocking potential of the processor substantially to as much as 4.4 GHz, while staying well within the permitted maximum voltage threshold of Intel, which is not more than 1.5 volts for any processor, with cores or not.


The Gulftown CPU allows six-core computing on a 32 nm die. With its support for HT tech, you can expect to get a higher user experience and performance benefit.

Apart from the ability to run 12 threads in parallel to increase the speed notably, the most performance boost is given to the CPU by the 12 MB shared L3 cache.

About Dominic Cooper

Dominic CooperDominic Cooper, a TTU graduate is a computer hardware expert. His only passion is to find out the nitty gritty of all computers since childhood. He has over 12 years of experience in writing, computer testing, and research. He is not very fond of social media. Follow Him at Linkedin

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