THE NEWS

In­tel Core i9-9900K set to break records; rise of the big four; huge data gath­er­ing op­er­a­tion un­cov­ered.

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IN­TEL HAS YET to of­fi­cially an­nounce its 9000-se­ries chips (as we write), but mother­board man­u­fac­tur­ers and oth­ers have been leak­ing de­tails left, right, and cen­ter. MSI, Asus, and Gi­ga­byte have all let slip their sup­port for 9000-se­ries chips, in­clud­ing the wel­come news that you won’t need a Z390 chipset, just a BIOS-up­dated eighth-gen­er­a­tion one.

The 9000-se­ries is branded as ninth-gen­er­a­tion chips, but is ac­tu­ally lit­tle more than a set of slightly faster eighth­gen ones. Es­sen­tially, In­tel is squeez­ing as much as it can out of its ex­ist­ing 14nm Cof­fee Lake ar­chi­tec­ture, now on its third gen gen­er­a­tion, prin­ci­pally be­cause it hasn’t got much mu else ready yet.

Last month, de­tails of the i3 and i5 ver­sions were widely leaked. This month, it’s the turn of the faster ones, though noth­ing is con­firmed so far. We have the Core i7-9700K, ef­fec­tively re­plac­ing the i7-8700K; rumor now has it that the i7-9700K will move to eight cores, but drop Hyper­Thread­ing. It’ll have a base clock of 3.6GHz, and a 4.9GHz Turbo. If true, this would put it roughly on par with a Ryzen 7 2700X, at a sim­i­lar price point, which is surely no co­in­ci­dence.

At the top of the tree is the Core i9-9900K—note the “i9” des­ig­na­tion, now used on a main­stream desk­top chip. There are bench­marks of this one about, taken from an engi­neer­ing sam­ple. It’s an eight-core, 16-thread chip, backed by 16MB of cache. The base clock is 3.6GHz, and a Tu Turbo mode of up to 5GHz (gasp). It’s sup­pos­edly a 95W TDP part, so ex­pect some se­ri­ous se­riou cool­ing. Both top 9000-se­ries will fea­ture sol­dered heat spread­ers to help with this.

The ini­tial test re­sults look good, and have lead to some overly ag­gres­sive things be­ing writ­ten about how it “thrashes” a Ryzen 7 2700X. Sure, it’ll be faster. This will be In­tel’s new halo desk­top chip. And In­tel does like its halo chips. It will also be hor­ri­bly ex­pen­sive— prob­a­bly $450–500 a pop. AMD will re­main the value choice across prac­ti­cally the whole mar­ket, but In­tel can at least hold the crown as the fastest.

In­tel is fac­ing in­creas­ing com­pe­ti­tion from AMD, and it shows. Bar­clays Trad­ing Hub down­graded its rat­ing for In­tel shares, its an­a­lyst low­er­ing the price tar­get by 7 per­cent. The tech­nol­ogy lead In­tel once had over AMD is erod­ing. It’s not just at the desk­top level ei­ther. T The prof­itable server mar­ket, specif­i­cally the sin­gle­socket m mar­ket, which has been a tradi tra­di­tional In­tel strong­hold, and a prof­itable one, has seen huge in­roads by AMD’s EPYC chips chips. In­tel will not be ship­ping its 10 10nm chips un­til next year, while AMD will start pro­duc­tion of 7nm GPUs and CPUs to­ward the end of this year.

It’s been years since In­tel faced such ri­valry across so many sec­tors, and one with such depth. AMD has had ex­cel­lent pro­ces­sor de­signs be­fore, which have em­bar­rassed In­tel, but it never lasted long. In­tel could al­ways throw cap­i­tal at the short­fall, while AMD would strug­gle to fol­low up on its ini­tial de­sign. This time, AMD’s Zen ar­chi­tec­ture is not only sound, but has a roadmap that moves into the server mar­ket, and into the years ahead.

But this is In­tel; it has deep pock­ets, and it will re­spond. What is clear is that it won’t be for months yet. Un­til then, it has to keep us amused with tricks and re­freshes. The Core i9-9900K will cap­ture head­lines, and have fan­boys in a lather. The of­fi­cial 9000-se­ries launch will be soon now, and we’ll see ex­actly what we are get­ting, and as every good show­man knows, it pays to have some­thing new at the fi­nal re­veal (that’s what we hope for, any­way).

–CL

AMD will re­main the value choice, but In­tel can at least hold the crown as the fastest.

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