INTEL IS PLAYING THE SAME GAME
The fastest Intel Core X processor you can buy now is the 12-core/24-thread Intel Core i9-7920X, and since AMD announced in May that Threadripper was coming, the two have locked horns in a back-and-forth battle to upstage the other.
Just days before Threadripper was slated to hit the shelves on August 10, Intel unwrapped the remainder of its ultra-enthusiast Core i9 family, revealing detailed specifications and a September 25 availability date.
That came as a bit of a surprise, seeing as how the lack of detail during the initial Core X launch had some speculating that we wouldn’t even see the 18-core Core i97980XE until 2018. There was also talk that Threadripper had taken Intel by surprise, and the chipmaker was scrambling to respond.
However, it turns out that Intel actually decided to make the monstrous 18-core chip as early as August 2016, spurred on by the surprising success of the 10-core Broadwell-E Core i7-6950X. It might be a niche audience that pursues anything above four cores, but it clearly was an audience worth catering to.
After all, when smartphones and tablets are becoming more powerful and increasingly capable of carrying out basic computing tasks for most people, desktop chips need to try harder to find their own raison d’être.
That reason may turn out to be the ultraenthusiast market, which demands a level of performance and parallel processing that mobile chips won’t be touching any time soon.