Later this month, Intel (INTC -2.15%) is expected to launch a new family of processors that leaked materials referred to as its Core X lineup. "Core X" is surely a reference to the code names of these chips, which are Kaby Lake-X and Skylake-X, respectively.
These chips will plug into motherboards implementing the X299 platform controller hub -- that's a chip that enables key functionality of a computer, such as USB ports and storage connectivity. They'll make up the company's "high-end desktop" line of products aimed specifically at gamers and other performance-hungry consumers and prosumers.
A good deal has been known about this product line in general terms, but thanks to a new leak that seems to be making the rounds, we now have information about the different product SKUs that Intel plans to launch, including frequency, cache sizes, and branding.
Meet the Core X lineup
According to the leak, there will be six members of the Core X family. The six-to-12-core variants will all be rated at a 140-watt thermal design power, while the quad-core chips will be rated at 112 watts.
The highest-end chip will be the Core i9-7920X, a 12-core, 24-thread chip with 16.5MB of L3 cache memory and 44 PCI Express lanes. The leak indicates that the frequencies of the chip, base and turbo, are "to be determined."
Below that will be a chip called the Core i9-7900X. This part will have 10 cores and 20 threads, run at a base frequency of 3.3GHz, and offer a maximum single-core turbo speed 4.3GHz in Turbo Boost 2.0 mode, with 4.5GHz for Turbo Boost Max 3.0. It will include 13.75MB of L3 cache memory and 44 PCI Express lanes.
Taking it down another notch, we get the Core i9-7820K. This part will run at a base frequency of 3.6GHz and offer a maximum single-core turbo speed of 4.3GHz in Turbo Boost 2.0 mode, with 4.5GHz for Turbo Boost Max 3.0. It will have 11MB of L3 cache memory and sport just 28 PCI Express lanes.
Moving another level down, we get to the Core i9-7800X, a six-core, 12-thread part running at a base speed of 3.5GHz, with a maximum single-core turbo speed of 4.0GHz in Turbo Boost 2.0 mode and no Turbo Boost Max 3.0 mode available for this product. It will have 8.25 megabytes of L3 cache memory and 28 PCI Express lanes.
Then, finally, we have the Kaby Lake-X parts, which appear to be the same as the Kaby Lake-S parts that launched back in January of this year but are designed to work with the X299 platform. These both have four cores. The higher-end Core i7-7740K has two threads per core enabled, while the lower end i7-7640K has just one thread per core enabled.
The 7740K runs at a base frequency of 4.3GHz and offers a maximum single-core turbo speed of 4.5GHz, while the 7640K runs at a base frequency of 4GHz and a maximum single-core turbo frequency of 4.2GHz. Both turbo figures are Turbo Boost 2.0, and neither of them has Turbo Boost Max 3.0 functionality.
And, finally, these chips both have 16 PCI Express lanes.
A much more compelling lineup than before
Although the leak doesn't indicate the pricing of these chips, right off the bat it's clear that Intel has made substantial improvements over its prior-generation Broadwell-E parts.
In addition to the goodness that a new processor architecture should bring to the table, Intel is apparently being much more aggressive on the out-of-the-box frequencies that it's rating these Skylake-X chips at.
The 10-core chip in the Skylake-X lineup, for example, can achieve a maximum turbo boost 2.0 speed of 4.3GHz. Intel's Broadwell-E based 10-core chip offered a maximum turbo boost 2.0 speed of only 3.5GHZ, which meant the user had to push the chip to higher-than-rated speeds just to match Intel's $350 chips in tasks that couldn't use more than four cores.
Intel is also being aggressive with the frequencies of the lower-end parts relative to their Broadwell-E counterparts.
One other change that's visible, though, is that with the Broadwell-E lineup, the maximum Turbo Boost 2.0 speeds decreased as core count increased. So, for example, the 10-core Broadwell-E offered a maximum single-core boost of 3.5GHz, while the eight-core Broadwell-E came with a maximum single-core boost of 3.7GHz.
With the new lineup, the higher-end parts are unequivocally better than the lower-end ones, something that wasn't true before.
All told, it looks as if Intel has done a much better job with its Skylake-X line of products than it did with the prior generation of Broadwell-E parts aimed at the same market. It'll be interesting to see if this product stack is compelling enough to drive upsell from Intel's mainstream desktop platform to the high-end desktop platform, and up the stack within the high-end desktop platform.