A few weeks ago, AMD revealed an ace up its sleeve – the 16 core, 32 thread ThreadRipper. Aimed at the high-end desktop (HEDT) market, the processor was meant only for the PC enthusiasts, software developers or CAD designers.
At Computex, Intel revealed its own HEDT platform, stepping it up a notch. The new platform uses the X299 chipset with X-series of processors. The biggest and baddest of them all, Intel Core i9-7980XE will come with a whopping 18 cores and 36 threads.
Unlike the consumer friendly version, the HEDT platform are more of a “prestige part” thing. Regular Joes won’t be able to make full use of the processors threads and cores but software developers or video streamers can. Intel is aiming for them with the X-series.
Starting at the bottom, we have the Intel Core i5-7640X and i7-7740X. These two fall under the Kaby Lake-X sub category. These two are very similar to the regular Kaby Lake counterparts with four cores and four threads (or eight threads with the i7), two memory channels and 16 PCIe 3.
The difference is in the power draw and clock rates. TDP has gone up from 91 W (non X) to 112 W (Kaby Lake-X). The base clock for the i5-7640X is now 4.0 GHz, up from 3.8 GHz with a turbo clock of 4.2 GHz. The i7-7740X also has a slightly higher base clock of 4.3 GHz, up from 4.2 GHz with a turbo clock of 4.5 GHz.
Moving up you get the 6, 8 and 10 core processors. They’re called the Skylake-X processors and feature double the memory channels compared the Kaby Lake-X counterparts as well as a higher power draw of 140W.
Another feature in the Skylake-X processors is Turbo Boost Max 3.0 (limited to i7-7820X and i9-7900X) which boosts the base clock even further than Turbo Boost 2.0. PCIe 3.0 lanes also increase from 16 to 28 for the i7-7800X, 7820X. The i9-7900X, however, gets 44 PCIe 3.0 lanes.
The final 4 processors, i9-7920X, 7940X, 7960X and 7980XE feature 12, 14, 16 and 18 cores respectively (double the thread count). They will also have a TDP of 165W. The rest of the details weren’t revealed by Intel for now.
All of these processors use the same LGA 2066 socket which can give you a strong upgrade path if you start with the lower end processors. All of the processors will be have unlocked multipliers, which makes them easier to overclock. Additionally the chips will Intel Optane Memory, up to three PCIe/NVMe SSDs, 8 SATA ports, and 10 USB 3.1 generation 1 ports.
No Intention of Backing Down
The new series shows that Intel isn’t changing its strategy because of AMD. The 8 core i7-7820-X costs $599 which is a $100 higher than AMD’s corresponding processor. The price premium is still there.
One area where Intel has the advantage is the single threaded performance where AMD lags behind. The Intel X299 motherboards and chips will be available in coming weeks.