Intel introduces Core i9s with up to eighteen cores

Intel has announced new processors for the High-End Desktop platform. Intel’s most powerful processors for desktops come in a Kaby Lake X and Skylake X line, the fastest model of which has 18 cores.

Intel has announced a total of nine new X-line processors for the hedt platform, codenamed Basin Falls. With this platform, Intel is targeting gamers, VR users, overclockers and graphics professionals. It concerns seven processors of the Skylake-X generation and two chips based on Kaby Lake-X. It is the first time that Intel uses the name Core i9 for processors.

The chip giant is also significantly increasing the number of cores for its desktop processors. For a long time there were rumors that Intel would release X processors with up to twelve cores. Intel seems to have added the models with fourteen, sixteen and eighteen cores to its line-up relatively recently, because the company has released few specifications of these models. Until now, the maximum for hedt platforms was ten cores. Competitor AMD announced its Threadripper line of high-end processors in mid-May; the most powerful of these chips contains sixteen cores.

Intel combines the processors with the X299 chipset on the LGA2066 socket. The chipset supports DMI 3.0, up to eight SATA 3.0 and ten USB 3.0 ports, but there is no support for USB 3.1 by default. The Core i9-7900X with twelve cores supports up to 44 pci-e lanes and the models with more cores are expected to do the same. In addition, the 7900X and 7820X support DDR4-2666 memory and it seems logical that the Core i9s higher in the ranking also support this memory. All Skylake-X chips support quad-channel memory.

It is striking that Intel has reduced the amount of L3 cache compared to the previous generation X processors, from a maximum of 2.5MB per core to a maximum of 1.375MB per core. At the same time, the chip company has quadrupled the amount of L2 cache, from 256kB to 1MB per core. This shift to more mid-level cache, which is closer to the core, at the expense of last-level cache, delivers performance improvements, according to Intel.

The new X Series is Intel’s first consumer line to support avx-512. Intel announced avx-512 in 2013, and this instruction set supports eight double precision or sixteen single precision floating point numbers in the 512bit vectors. Until now, only the Xeon Phi accelerator codenamed Knights Landing supported the instruction set, but the Skylake-Xeons will also support it. Furthermore, just like Broadwell-E, the processors support Turbo Boost Max 3.0, but Intel has adjusted the functionality. Instead of a single favored core, two cores are now eligible for the additional boost from 100 to 200MHz for single threaded workloads. In addition, the required drivers have become part of Windows updates, eliminating the need for users to check whether the drivers have been updated for functionality.

Intel recommends water cooling to keep the processors warm. The company is pushing forward its own Liquid Cooling TS13X cooler, a water cooler with a 120mm fan, which will cost $85 to $100.

Processor Architecture C/T Clockspeed/turbo2/turbo3 L3 cache Pcie-lanes Mem. Tdp Price
Core i9-7980XE Skylake-X 18/36 ? ? ? ? 165W $1999
Core i9-7960X Skylake-X 16/32 ? ? ? ? ? $1699
Core i9-7940X Skylake-X 14/28 ? ? ? ? ? $1399
Core i9-7920X Skylake-X 12/24 ? ? ? ? ? $1199
Core i9-7900X Skylake-X 10/20 3.3/4.3/4.5GHz 13.75MB 44 ddr4-2666 140W $999
Core i7-7820X Skylake-X 8/16 3.6GHz/4.3/4.5GHz 11MB 28 ddr4-2666 140W $599
Core i7-7800X Skylake-X 6/12 3.5/4.0GHz/- 8.25MB 28 ddr4-2400 140W $389
Core i7-7740X Kaby Lake X 4/8 4.3/4.5GHz/- 8MB 16 ddr4-2666 112W $339
Core i5-7640X Kaby Lake X 4/4 4.0/4.2GHz/- 6MB 16 ddr4-2666 112W $242