Intel Targets High-End Desktop with New Core i9 Chips

Intel new X-series platform features a maximum of 18 cores and 36 threads, with pricing ranging from $242 to $2,000.

IntelCore19

At the Computex conference in Taipei May 30, Intel introduced a new lineup of processors that specifically targets the high-end desktop PC market, a sector in which the company hasn't showed much interest previously.

This is a pivot of sorts. The general manager of Intel's Client Computing Group, Gregory Bryant, told attendees at the conference that the company is entering a "new era of computing and that this will play a big role in driving our connected future."

What does that mean? It signifies that Intel is now focusing on more on devices--yes, this includes the budding IoT greenfield, with all its sensors, cameras and so on--connectivity, form factor and performance, Bryant said.

Intel Also Looking at Supplying Chips for IoT

We'll no doubt be hearing more about this strategy in the near future.

In the meantime, high-end PCs are considered one of those new-gen devices. With the new Skylake-X chips and their accompanying X299 platform, the world's largest processor-maker is stepping into a segment currently dominated by Nvidia and AMD for machines sold to gamers, content creators and other artistic types.

Intel is following directly on the heels of AMD, which announced its new high-end desktop (HEDT) platform, the 16-core 32-thread ThreadRipper earlier this month.

The high-end desktop market is small compared to the laptop sector but growing globally; the major advantage is that users are often willing to pay premiums for higher performance, so the margins are significantly better than in other PC markets.

Skylake-X also introduced the latest revision of the Turbo Boost Max 3 feature that was included on the last-generation Broadwell-E high-end desktop (HEDT) chips. In Broadwell-E, automation is a key feature; Turbo Boost Max 3 determines which individual core within the processor supports the highest clock speeds and boosts that core in workloads that stress only a single core.

Updated Processor Architecture

Skylake-X extends that to identify the two individual cores that support the highest speeds, going from a single-core boost to a dual-core boost.

Skylake-X parts use an updated processor architecture that should yield performance improvements relative to the Broadwell-E parts at identical core counts and frequencies, the company said.

The highest-performing version, the Skylake-X Core i9-7980XE, features 18 cores and has a $1,999 price tag. In successive pricing order: the 16-core Core i9-7960X for $1,699; the 14-core Core i9-7940X for $1,399; the 12-core Core i9-7920X for $1,199; the 10-core Core i9-7900X for $999; the eight-core Core i7-7820X for $599; and the six-core Core i7-7800X for $389.

Image courtesy of Intel

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he...