WHAT IN­TEL’S CORE-X PRO­CES­SORS MEAN FOR THE FU­TURE OF PCS

PCs only mat­ter in the high-end now.

HWM (Singapore) - - Think - By Koh Wanzi

It’s no se­cret that the PC mar­ket has gone stale. Ship­ments have de­clined steadily over the past few years, mostly the re­sult of in­creas­ingly pow­er­ful smart­phones and tablets, and the slow­ing down of Moore’s Law.

As new pro­ces­sor gen­er­a­tions de­liver di­min­ish­ing gains, mostly in the form of small speed bumps and bet­ter power efciency, there are fewer in­cen­tives to up­grade, es­pe­cially when mo­bile de­vices are per­fectly ca­pa­ble of han­dling ba­sic tasks.

How­ever, PCs may be ag­ging, but they’re not quite done yet. The high- end desk­top mar­ket re­mains a bright spot, driven by gam­ing and the never-end­ing hype of vir­tual re­al­ity and 4K con­tent. It isn’t a co­in­ci­dence that AMD chose to re­lease its high-per­for­mance desk­top Ryzen chips be­fore its Ryzen Mo­bile APUs, be­cause the pre­mium seg­ment is the one that’s still thriv­ing.

At Computex, In­tel also an­nounced its Core-X CPUs, in­clud­ing chips so mon­strous that it had to coin a new brand name for it. The new Core i9 pro­ces­sors range from 12 to 18 cores, and are clearly in­tended to give AMD’s 16-core/32-thread Thread­rip­per CPU a run for its money.

Are 18 cores and 36 threads over­do­ing it? Yes. But for video ed­i­tors, Twitch stream­ers, and those who need to com­pile code, an 18-core CPU is a god­send. These are all heav­ily threaded work­loads that will benet from more cores. For in­stance, a stream­ing PC would re­quire ded­i­cated threads for run­ning a game, transcod­ing the video, and broad­cast­ing it, and still need avail­able threads for voice communications.

The com­mon thread link­ing all these ap­pli­ca­tions is that they still can’t be per­formed by a smart­phone, tablet, or low-cost Chrome­book. This is the one area where there is good rea­son to buy a high­per­for­mance ma­chine, and AMD and In­tel are right to fo­cus on it.

Few of us can af­ford a US$1,999 CPU. But the “en­try-level” Core-X chips cost roughly the same as their cur­rent main­stream Core i5 and Core i7 coun­ter­parts, and are still based on the ul­tra-en­thu­si­ast In­tel X299 chipset.

It has never been more af­ford­able to get on­board In­tel’s ag­ship plat­form. Even­tu­ally, these crazy chips with up­ward of 10 cores could be­come the new nor­mal, which is good news for ev­ery­one from gamers to con­tent cre­ators.

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