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Computex: Intel makes Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X official, 18C/36T Core i9 heads the lineup

Over the last few weeks, we have been hearing whispers about Intel's upcoming X299 Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X lineup. In fact, just last night we heard that an 18 core/36 thread CPU was on the cards. Now, Intel has made it all official, announcing its new Core X-series processor family at Computex, starting off with a 4C/4T i5 and going all the way up to an 18C/36T Core i9 CPU.

Intel is billing this new processor family as its best for content creation, 4K gaming, streaming and overclocking. Key highlights from the presentation include support for more PCIe lanes for multi-GPU configurations, Intel's new AVX-512 ratio offset and per-core overclocking and voltage adjustments. All of these CPUs run on Intel's new X299 chipset, which offers significantly enhanced IO connectivity compared to X99 and similarly to the Z100 and Z200 series, X299 will be connected to the CPU via DMI 3.0, which has a similar amount of bandwidth to PCIe 3.0 x4.

This is set to be Intel's most scalable HEDT platform ever, running from quad-core SKUs all of the way up to 18-cores, all running on LGA Socket 2066 with the X299 chipset. According to Intel, there will be up to a 10 percent performance increase in multithreaded workloads compared to last generation and up to a 15 percent improvement when it comes to single-core workloads.

X299 supports up to 44 PCIe lanes directly connected to the CPU, allowing systems to be expanded with multiple discrete GPUs, fast SSDs and Thunderbolt 3 devices. This new platform also supports Intel's new Optane Memory and Optane SSD products.

Here are the new Skylake-X CPUs with core counts and pricing:

  • Core i9-7980XE: 18C/36T, $1,999
  • Core i9-7960X: 16C/32T, $1,699
  • Core i9-7940X: 14C/28T, $1,399
  • Core i9-7920X: 12C/24T, $1,199
  • Core i9-7900X: 10C/20T, $999
  • Core i7-7820X: 8C/16T, $599
  • Core i7-7800x: 6C/12T, $389

Here are the Kaby Lake-X CPUs with core counts and pricing:

  • Core i7-7740X: 4C/8T, $339
  • Core i5-7640X: 4C/4T. $242

While all of these CPUs run on the new X299 platform, some features are limited to select SKUs. Turbo Boost Max 3.0 for instance improves single and dual core performance on X-series CPUs by selecting the best core on the chip for the job. However, it is only available on the Core i7-7820X and up. Aside from that, the amount of PCIe lanes available will vary depending on which SKU you go with. More details on that will be arriving at a later time.

One thing worth noting is that Intel has changed, or rebalanced as the company prefers to put it, the smart cache hierarchy for Skylake-X CPUs (not Kaby Lake-X chips). This results in a decrease in the headline figure for total cache but Intel has increased capacity closer to the processor. Level 3 cache (LLC– Last Level Cache, as Intel likes to describe it) is reduced to up to 1.375MB of non-inclusive cache per core (vs up to 2.5MB of inclusive cache per core for Haswell-E and Broadwell-E).

To rebalance the reduction in 3 capacity, Intel has quadrupled Level 2 cache (MLC–Mid Level Cache, as Intel likes to describe it) from 256KB per core (for Haswell-E and Broadwell-E) to 1MB per core. So you get a 45% reduction in LLC but a 300% increase in MLC. Overall cache capacity is reduced due to the bias towards capacity for last-level cache. But there is a greater quantity of cache one step closer to the CPU, at the MLC level.

From what we have heard through the grapevine, the two Kaby Lake-X SKUs in addition to the Core i7-7800X, 7820X and Core i9-7900X will go on sale in June. The rest of the Core i9 lineup is said to be coming a little later in the year but we don't have a firm date just yet. This lines up with previous rumours that indicated that some SKUs would arrive in August, though this date was not confirmed.

KitGuru Says: Intel has really brought the big guns with its HEDT platform this year, with CPUs ranging from as low as $242 and hitting price points all of the way up to $1,999. It will certainly be interesting to see how Skylake-X fares against AMD's upcoming Threadripper CPUs later in the year. 

Credit to Luke Hill for the additional reporting and detail. 

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