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When AMD launched Ryzen, In­tel to its credit never blinked. In­stead giv­ing AMD a long, cold and hard stare down, con­fi­dent that its prod­uct line-up would with­stand what­ever AMD could throw at it. Not budg­ing on prices once to lower it­self to AMD’s un­der­cut­ting ways. And to be hon­est, it has stood its ground well.

How­ever, cracks are be­gin­ning to show in In­tel’s prod­uct oƒer­ings where AMD can demon­strate clear per­for­mance su­pe­ri­or­ity, all thanks to sim­ply hav­ing more cores on oƒer at the same price.

Well it seems this great show­down has come to a head and In­tel is fi­nally re­act­ing. In­tel has o…cially an­nounced the first prod­ucts in its new eighth gen­er­a­tion Core se­ries. As has been the method since In­tel dropped its in­fa­mous tick-tock R&D cy­cle, we’re now start­ing the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion of pro­ces­sors built us­ing the PAO cy­cle (process, ar­chi­tec­ture, op­ti­mise).

The pro­ces­sors an­nounced are at the start of this cy­cle (‘process’) and thus es­sen­tially take the pre­vi­ous 7th gen­er­a­tion op­ti­mised cores (Kaby Lake) and sim­ply re-cre­ate them again but on a newer process, in this case 14nm++ (Kaby Lake Re­fresh). As such, ar­chi­tec­turally th­ese aren’t ex­pected to be ex­cit­ing in any­way shape or form. The ex­cite­ment comes in what an im­proved process node aƒords. Namely bet­ter power con­sump­tion (thus clock speed head­room) and bet­ter tran­sis­tor den­sity.

With all that in mind we have a very clear idea of what’s go­ing on with th­ese four new pro­ces­sors (see ta­ble 1).


Aimed at ul­tra-porta­bles, over the 7th gen equiv­a­lents th­ese im­pres­sively gain two ex­tra cores (and four threads) eƒec­tively dou­bling the amount of raw re­sources avail­able, plus the peak turbo boost speeds are in­creas­ing some 500MHz! This comes at the cost of base clock speeds, which to fit into the tiny 15W power en­ve­lope, suƒer a mas­sive 900MHz hit, now down to to sub-2GHz lev­els.

This is just the first bul­let in In­tel’s cham­ber though. Leaks are al­ready be­gin­ning to uno…cially con­firm com­ing 8th-gen desk­top parts spec­i­fi­ca­tions. Clearly show­ing a re­ac­tionary move to AMD’s Ryzen prod­uct lines where core counts help them beat In­tel’s oƒer­ings, In­tel is ba­si­cally adding two ex­tra cores to ev­ery­thing across its line-up (see ta­ble 2).

This is a big mo­ment, as un­til now In­tel has sim­ply re­fused to budge be­yond quad-core pro­ces­sors for its main­stream parts for a good six years now. AMD has fa­cil­i­tated the start of the CPU core wars - a war In­tel in­tends to win if clock speeds are any­thing to go by - those peak turbo clocks are far be­yond what AMD’s Ryzen can achieve cur­rently, even when over­clocked.

Th­ese 8th gen parts un­for­tu­nately will re­quire yet an­other chipset (and thus moth­er­board) to work, be­ing the 300 se­ries. And thanks to AMD’s sneaky mar­ket­ing ploy in claim­ing the B350 name first, In­tel has had to al­ter course from its pre­vi­ous B150 and B250 chipset nam­ing con­ven­tion, and opt for call­ing its next main­stream chipset B360.


Sit­ting in the TR4 socket – be­ing the same socket which AMD’s own Epyc server pro­ces­sors also use (to save on R&D and as­sist in ecosys­tem up­take of the plat­form) – the fact that Threadripper is just half of an Epyc pro­ces­sor poses a slight prob­lem. You see, Epyc is an MCM pack­age made up of four dies (of eight cores each). Phys­i­cally re­mov­ing half (two) of them poses a prob­lem for dis­tribut­ing the heat to and phys­i­cal clamp­ing forces from a TR4 heatsink.

En­thu­si­asts won­dered if AMD sim­ply used failed Epyc pro­ces­sors with over half of their cores dis­abled to cre­ate Thread­rip­pers (ex­pen­sive!). It wasn’t long be­fore some­one de-lid­ded a Threadripper and dis­cov­ered the truth. AMD sim­ply use two dummy cores, placed di­ag­o­nally op­po­site each other in place of where Epyc’s two ex­tra dies go, so that they help prop up the IHS (In­te­grated Heat Spreader) and dis­trib­ute clamp­ing loads evenly over the ac­tual work­ing cores. A sim­ple yet eƒec­tive so­lu­tion!

Ta­ble 2: And the desk­top parts

A die shot of In­tel new 8th-gen quad core U-se­ries pro­ces­sor Oc­to­ber 2017 www.pcan­dtechau­thor­ity.com.au

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