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Hy­per-thread­ing sud­denly be­comes scarce, and the stun­ning 28-core chip is Xeon only.

PCWorld (USA) - - Contents - BY MARK HACH­MAN

In­tel un­veiled its 9th-gen­er­a­tion Core desk­top chips in early Oc­to­ber with the no­table omis­sion of a key fea­ture: Hy­per-thread­ing, at least on all but the most ex­clu­sive Core i9-9900k for main­stream PCS. Hy­per-thread­ing has also been re­served for a new it­er­a­tion of In­tel’s X-series pro­ces­sors, which in­cludes up to 18 cores and 36 threads.

In a livestream from its Fall Launch Event in New York, the com­pany an­nounced just a sin­gle Core i9 chip, the $488 Core i9-9900k. Later, the com­pany pri­vately re­vealed two oth­ers in the Core i7 and Core i5 fam­i­lies.

In­tel also an­nounced a new series of X-class chips for gamers, rang­ing from 8 cores and 16 threads through 18 cores and 36 threads. Prices will range from $589 to $1,979.

What this means for you: It’s cer­tainly fair to say that In­tel sur­prised us all with the un­ex­pected shift of its up­com­ing 28-core chip to the Xeon fam­ily, as well as the an­nounce­ment of the X-series chips, too. And what’s the deal with Hy­per-thread­ing? In­tel’s an­nounce­ment cer­tainly adds some new top­ics to talk about in the months ahead.

Part of the con­fu­sion was due to what In­tel was ex­pected to an­nounce: a fam­ily of new 9th-gen chips, from Core i3s up through the Core i9, and how it did so. On the pub­licly avail­able livestream, the com­pany re­vealed only the pres­ence of the Core i9-9900k, as well as the pres­ence of the new X-series parts. Later, af­ter the livestream had con­cluded, In­tel fleshed out the re­main­ing mem­bers of the K-series parts, and dis­closed the price and per­for­mance of the X-series parts.

How­ever, In­tel didn’t even men­tion what many en­thu­si­asts wanted to know: why only the i9-9900k, out of all of In­tel’s main­stream parts, boasts the Hy­per-thread­ing fea­ture.

HY­PER-THREAD­ING IS NOW AN IN­TEL GAM­ING FEA­TURE

Hy­per-thread­ing, of course, has been a sta­ple of In­tel’s pro­ces­sors since 2002’s Pen­tium 4. As clock speeds tended to top out at 4GHZ to 5GHZ, par­al­lel­ism—orig­i­nally in the form of sup­port for more pro­ces­sor threads, and later to more phys­i­cal cores—kept the pro­ces­sor per­for­mance on an up­ward tra­jec­tory.

Ri­val AMD made multi-core chips a sta­ple of its suc­cess with Ryzen and its Thread­rip­per ( go.pcworld.com/32cr) parts, with a mas­sive 32-core, 64-thread 2nd-gen Thread­rip­per al­ready on store shelves. Game de­vel­op­ers, though, have been slower to keep up, with most us­ing just a hand­ful of the avail­able threads. That’s made hy­per­threaded, multi-core chips more suit­able for video edit­ing and ren­der­ing, rather than ev­ery­day PC work­loads.

An­other fac­tor is In­tel’s own man­u­fac­tur­ing prob­lems. No, these new chips aren’t In­tel’s long-awaited launch into the 10nm gen­er­a­tion. The new “Cof­fee Lake Re­fresh (-R)” chips

In­tel an­nounced are still built upon a 14nm process, in might what be called a “14nm++” process tech­nol­ogy.

By now, In­tel ex­pected its 10nm fabs would be churn­ing out new “Can­non Lake” pro­ces­sors, re­serv­ing the 14nm pro­duc­tion lines for older chips. But the slow tran­si­tion forced In­tel to change di­rec­tion, and In­tel has said its pro­duc­tion will suf­fer ( go.pcworld. com/spwo). For­tu­nately, the com­pany is pri­or­i­tiz­ing high-end Core chips.

IN­TEL REBRANDS ITS 28-CORE CHIP AS XEON

Anand Sri­vatsa, vice pres­i­dent and gen­eral man­ager in the Client Com­put­ing Group at In­tel, in­tro­duced the new 9th-gen parts. “We know that the PC is al­ready great in en­abling per­for­mance to cre­ate, to con­nect, and we in­tend to build on these strengths,” Sri­vatsa said.

Sri­vatsa be­gan his pre­sen­ta­tion with an ap­par­ent sur­prise: In­tel ap­pears to be call­ing its up­com­ing 28-core chip that it an­nounced at Com­pu­tex ( go.pcworld.com/cr28) the W-3175X Xeon, a part that runs up to 4.3Ghz—and not a mem­ber of the Core fam­ily. It will in­clude 68 plat­form PCIE lanes. It will ship in De­cem­ber, Sri­vatsa said, at an undis­closed price. Un­for­tu­nately, In­tel didn’t re­ally dis­close fur­ther de­tails.

In­tel then an­nounced some­thing com­pletely un­ex­pected: a new, 9th-gen­er­a­tion fam­ily of X-series chips for gam­ing PCS.

IN­TEL PO­SI­TIONS NEW 9TH-GEN X-SERIES CHIPS AT CRE­ATORS

Last year, In­tel an­nounced its 14-, 16-, and 18-core Core i9 X-series chips ( go.pcworld. com/xchp) as a part for high-end gamers. This year, In­tel po­si­tioned the X-series parts for cre­ators, of which In­tel said there are 100 mil­lion in the U.S., the U.K. and China com­bined. But while Sri­vatsa dropped in a men­tion of an up­com­ing re­fresh of the X-series parts, the com­pany waited un­til a more pri­vate “deep dive” to un­veil the full spec­i­fi­ca­tions, as seen be­low. (Though In­tel didn’t spec­ify which ar­chi­tec­ture these chips use, they’re ex­pected to be based on the

Sky­lake ar­chi­tec­ture, oth­er­wise known as the Sky­lake-x desk­top pro­ces­sors.) They’ll ship this Novem­ber.

• 3.0GHZ (4.4GHZ turbo) 18-core/36thread Core I9-9980XE, for $1,979

• 3.1GHZ(4.4GHZ) 16-core/32-thread Core i9-9960x, for $1,684

• 3.3GHZ (4.4GHZ) 14-core/28-thread Core i9-9940x, for $1,387

• 3.5GHZ (4.4GHZ) 12-core/24-thread Core i9-9920x, for $1,189

• 3.5GHZ (4.4GHZ) 10-core/20-thread Core i9-9900x, for $989

• 3.3GHZ (4.1GHZ) 10-core/20-thread Core i9-9820x, for $889

• 3.8GHZ (4.4GHZ) 8-core/16-thread Core i7-9800x, for $589

In­tel also re­leased per­for­mance met­rics for the new X-series chips (see above).

MEET IN­TEL’S MAIN­STREAM 9TH-GEN K-SERIES CORE CHIPS

Ev­ery­one was wait­ing for the main­stream desk­top parts. The com­pany in­tro­duced its first 9th-gen chips, spear­headed by the Core i9-9900k. It’s the com­pany’s first broad­vol­ume 5GHZ chip, with 8 cores and 16 threads. In­tel is also adding sol­der TIM for ad­di­tional over­clock­ing head­room.

To demon­strate its pro­cess­ing power,

In­tel took a Core i9-9900k, placed a pair of vir­tual ma­chines on it, and gamed and streamed Playerun­k­nown:bat­tle­grounds on the sys­tem. “The Core i9-9900k: best gam­ing pro­ces­sor in the world, pe­riod,” Sri­vatsa said.

From a se­cu­rity stand­point, there’s an­other plus: The new 9th-gen­er­a­tion parts con­tain some of In­tel’s first mit­i­ga­tions in hard­ware to solve the Melt­down bug ( go. pcworld.com/mlbg), the com­pany said.

In­tel an­nounced three mem­bers of the new 9th-gen K series:

• 3.6GHZ (5.0GHZ) 8-core/16-thread Core i9-9900k, for $488

• 3.6GHZ (4.9GHZ) 8-core/8-thread Core i7-9700k, for $374

• 3.7GHZ (4.6GHZ) 6-core, 6-thread Core i5-9600k, for $262

In­tel said you can pre­order the Core i9-9900k from ma­jor e-tail­ers. PC mak­ers are lin­ing up, too: The Acer Preda­tor, the Asus ROG line, the HP Omen, and the Dell Alien­ware lineup will all use it. And for fans, In­tel has a con­test for you, too: Go to Corei9.in­tel.com for free codes and other prizes.

IN­TEL ADDS A NEW Z390 CHIPSET, TOO

Though the new 9th-gen chips will be com­pat­i­ble with In­tel’s ex­ist­ing 300-series chipsets, In­tel is adding the Z390 chipset as well, with sup­port for 6 Gen2 USB 3.1 con­nec­tions plus 10 Gen1 USB 3.1 lanes. (Gen1 USB con­nec­tions sup­port 5 Gbits/s, while Gen2 dou­bles that to 10Gbits/s, as MSI ex­plains [ go.pcworld.com/gnex].) Up to 24 PCIE lanes are sup­ported, and there’s re­port­edly Thun­der­bolt 3 sup­port, as well—at least ac­cord­ing to early leaks.

The Z390 also sup­ports In­tel’s own 802.11ac Wifi MAC; In­tel has strug­gled in the com­mu­ni­ca­tions space for years, and clearly wants to push its way back in. Re­mem­ber, In­tel be­gan en­cour­ag­ing its wire­less con­nec­tions in April, when it launched some ad­di­tional 7th-gen desk­top parts ( go. pcworld.com/cldk). (Our past story also con­tains a sum­mary of In­tel’s four other desk­top chipsets: the H370, H310, Q370, and B360.)

A sum­mary of the new fea­tures of the 28-core Xeon W-3175X.

Here are the spec­i­fi­ca­tions of In­tel’s new X-series (Sky­lake-x) mi­cro­pro­ces­sors.

Here’s how the new 9th-gen X-series parts are ex­pected to per­form.

The speeds and feeds of In­tel’s new 9th-gen­er­a­tion K-series parts for main­stream desk­top PCS.

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