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Intel’s Core i7-4790K ‘Devil’s Canyon’ may not be available at launch

Intel Corp. reportedly plans to officially unveil its Core i7-4790K and Core i5-4690K central processing units designed for enthusiasts and overclockers next week. But while the new microprocessors will be introduced formally, they may not become available immediately, according to sources with knowledge of the matter.

Intel’s positions on the market are very solid these days thanks to the fact that its arch-rival Advanced Micro Devices cannot offer competitive products for the high-end of the desktop market. Still, this does not mean that everything is ideal at Intel. Last year the Santa Clara, California-based company faced two problems: its long-awaited code-named Haswell microprocessor turned out to be hotter than Intel had expected (which created another problem: poor overclockability of the Haswell-based chips), whereas its next-generation code-named Broadwell chip faced a delay because of yield issues with its 14nm process technology.

In a bid to offer new product families for all market segments this year, Intel had to boost clock-rates of microprocessors based on the Haswell micro-architecture, without increasing their power consumption. While it is fairly easy to increase frequencies of low-end or mainstream offerings, to boost performance of higher-end products Intel needed to re-spin the chip and optimize its power consumption. As a side benefit, Intel improved overclocking potential of its Haswell products and decided to offer its customers a couple of exclusive products that it called “Devil’s Canyon”.

In addition to improved thermal interface material, the Devil’s Canyon chips feature a new version of the Haswell core for desktops that features higher clock-rates (up to 4.10GHz in case of the Core i7-4790K) and, possibly, other improvements. Both the Core i7-4790K as well as the Core i5-4690K will be formally unveiled in early June at the Computex 2012 trade-show, but their retail availability will be delayed since Intel still has not started volume shipments of the chips.

Select Intel partners received their samples of the DC central processing units only very recently. Many system builders have received nothing, while the small number of customers who have samples coming do not have as many as they expected, according to a check made by KitGuru.

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The reasons for the postponement are not completely clear, but since we are talking about new processors with high clock-rates, it is highly-likely that Intel has troubles with mass production of chips that can stably work at 4.0GHz – 4.10GHz frequencies and allow further overclocking. The easiest way to get a lot of “fast” CPUs is to increase production of all processors and cherry-pick the high-performance dies. But that tactics means that Intel will produce a lot of “excessive” chips.

Different sources reveal different information about actual availability of the Devil’s Canyon processors. Some claim that the Core i7-4790K as well as the Core i5-4690K will be available in the Q3 2014, which means starting from July. Other believe that the first Devil’s Canyon products will reach the market only in September.

Intel did not comment on the news-story.

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KitGuru Says: The reasons why Intel decided to create an ultra-high-performance Core i7-4790K processor (in case the information about 4.0GHz or 4.10GHz clock-rate is correct) are not completely clear. Such product will be significantly faster than almost everything on the market by a high margin. Moreover, when overclocked, it most likely will be faster that the upcoming code-named Broadwell and Skylake microprocessors. Basically, the Core i7-4790K has potential to affect Intel’s future sales. In addition to that, the company’s inability to ship the product now clearly will affect Intel’s revenue this quarter as well as sales of new mainboards and PCs.

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