With Core i9, the Intel vs. AMD battle rages anew. Announced Tuesday at Computex in Taipei, Intel’s answer to AMD’s 16-core, 32-thread Threadripper is an 18-core, 36-thread monster microprocessor of its own, tailor-made for elite PC enthusiasts.
The Core i9 Extreme Edition i9-7980XE, what Intel calls the first teraflop desktop PC processor ever, will be priced at (gulp!) $1,999 when it ships later this year. In a slightly lower tier will be the meat of the Core i9 family: Core i9 X-series chips in 16-core, 14-core, 12-core, and 10-core versions, with prices climbing from $999 to $1,699. All of these new Skylake-based parts will offer improvements over their older Broadwell-E counterparts: 15 percent faster in single-threaded apps and 10 percent faster in multithreaded tasks, Intel says.
If these Core i9 X-series chips—code-named “Basin Falls”—are too rich for your blood, Intel also introduced three new Core i7 X-series chips, priced from $339 to $599, and a $242 quad-core Core i5. All of the new chips are due “in the coming weeks,” Intel said.
Most of the Core i9 chips will incorporate what Intel calls an updated Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0, a feature where the chip identifies not just one, but two cores as the “best” cores, and makes them available to be dynamically overclocked to higher speeds when needed. They’ll be Optane-ready, too, with over 130 Optane-ready motherboards waiting in the wings, Intel said.
If there’s a catch, it’s that all of the new 165W, 140W, and 112W chips are designed around the new Socket R4. This 2,066-pin LGA socket is compatible with just one Intel chipset, the new X299, though many X299 motherboards are already being announced.
Intel and AMD have a real fight going again, and we’ll have to wait and see who’ll end up on top. With Core i9, Intel’s just staked an aggressive claim to the high end of the market. AMD will now be forced to disclose the 14, 12, and 10-core versions of its Threadripper parts, as well as their prices. Intel’s laid down its cards, but the hand has yet to be played.