As rumored earlier this week, Intel has announced a new, limited edition Coffee Lake CPU: The Core i7-8086K. This new chip will have a 4GHz base clock and 5GHz boost, with six cores, 12 threads, and the same iGPU turbo clock as the rest of the 8th Generation Core i7 family (1.2GHz).
The new core isn’t just a top-end SKU, however — it’s a limited edition CPU, with just 50,000 parts planned at this point. Intel isn’t revealing all of the turbo frequencies, but we’ve seen speculation online that the chip will have a 4.6GHz all-core turbo frequency. If true, this would work out to a 300MHz clock jump across the board compared with the Core i7-8700K’s 3.7GHz base, 4.3GHz all-core turbo, and 4.7GHz single-core boost. (The performance gains at each clock frequency come out to 1.08x, 1.07x, and 1.06x at base, all-core, and max respectively).
Pricing is currently unclear as well. Intel is actually planning to auction 8,086 of these CPUs on a sweepstakes site (you can sign up here starting on Thursday June 7, at 5 PM EDT). The listed approximate value from the sweepstakes page is $425, but with so few of these CPUs being produced at all, it’s not clear if we’ll ever see the chips for sale on any channel site. They may be reserved for OEMs and boutique system builders instead of being made more generally available.
Intel’s other major Computex 2018 demo was a 5GHz 28-core unannounced CPU shown tearing through Cinebench in what PCWorld describes as “a few seconds.” With its supposed 5GHz clock speed, it certainly would — but Intel isn’t announcing anything about the chip, including its model number, beyond saying it’s a single-socket system with a 28-core CPU.
By comparing Intel’s current top-end, highest-clocked Core X and Xeon Platinum servers, we can check what kind of TDP we’d realistically be looking at. Answer: A lot. Moving from 18 cores to 28 cores pushes TDP up 1.24x, even though the Xeon gives up 10 percent of its top-end clock rate. Raising the boost clock as high as 5GHz suggests one of two things: Either Intel is going to create a server chip with a very limited boost clock, like 5GHz on a single core, or it’s going to pull an AMD-style FX-9590 and release a Core X or Xeon server part with a dramatically higher TDP. Properly-built motherboards can handle high TDPs and top-end air coolers are, we’ve been told, capable of handling up to a 250W CPU. Cores that generate more heat than that typically require water cooling, but we’ll have to wait and see what Intel has in mind for this new core.
This new chip could also be read as a response to AMD’s Threadripper. Currently, AMD’s strongest position, relative to Intel, is at the $1,000 price point (See on Amazon). While few PC buyers invest in these kinds of systems, the fact is, the Threadripper 7980XE is $1,890 for 18 cores, while Threadripper 1950X is $959 for 16. The Core i9-7900X (See on Amazon) — Intel’s closest-priced competitor to Threadripper — is $921. In the workstation benchmarks where high core count CPUs are relevant, that 16-core AMD CPU beats Intel’s 10-core every time.
It’s possible, however, that Intel could be prepping an aggressive shakeup in its Core X family. Last year, when it launched Core X, Intel also slashed its per-core pricing in half. Previously, a 10-core chip had cost $2,000. With Core X’s debut, that price dropped in half. Were Intel to launch a 28-core chip at $2,000, it could slice its 18-core chip to $1,000. Given that the Core i9-7980XE generally beat AMD’s Threadripper 1950X, that would give Intel a potent $1,000 price point. The company could then adjust its other product stacks accordingly. Whether this new core forms the basis of such a plan or is merely a one-off entry to the product family remains to be seen.
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