Maximum PC - - 2017 TECH PREVIEW -

In­tel’s Kaby Lake chips are now ship­ping in both mo­bile and desk­top form, which means In­tel’s high-end plat­form finds it­self in the odd po­si­tion of be­ing fully two gen­er­a­tions be­hind in ar­chi­tec­tural terms. Cur­rently, the Core i7 Ex­treme Edi­tion lineup, in­clud­ing the mon­strous 10-core i7-6950X, is based on the Broad­well-E ar­chi­tec­ture.

With that in mind, it makes a cer­tain kind of sense to find that In­tel is pre­par­ing a dou­ble whammy for its high-end desk­top se­ries in 2017. It seems both Sky­lake-X and Kaby Lake-X chips are go for launch.

Sky­lake-X will be the bad boys of In­tel’s 2017 range, rock­ing in with six, eight, or 10 cores, and TDPs up to 140 watts. Sky Lake-X chips will also pack as many as 44 PCI Ex­press 3.0 lanes for mas­sive I/O ca­pa­bil­ity, along with a quad-chan­nel mem­ory con­troller. That said, In­tel al­ready of­fers a 10core CPU, so it re­mains to be seen whether Sky Lake-X will be much of a step for­ward for raw per­for­mance.

Kaby Lake-X, mean­while, will be lim­ited to a mere four cores, 16 PCI Ex­press lanes, and a dual-chan­nel mem­ory con­troller. If that seems like a ret­ro­grade step, our best guess is that the Kaby Lake SKUs may be a pre-emp­tive re­sponse to AMD’s new Zen CPUs. AMD will be of­fer­ing a full range of tra­di­tional Zen CPUs with­out in­te­grated graph­ics, and Kaby Lake-X could be an at­tempt to see off the bot­tom end of the Zen of­fer­ing. What­ever, both of th­ese new CPU fam­i­lies from In­tel will slot into the new LGA2066 socket, break­ing back­ward com­pat­i­bil­ity with ex­ist­ing LGA2011 plat­forms and chipsets. Con­se­quently, a new plat­form and chipset, co­de­named Basin Falls-X, will ar­rive. High­lights will in­clude up to 10 USB 3.0 ports, and up to 24 lanes for PCI Ex­press stor­age.

Not long for this world: In­tel's LGA2011 socket.

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