Earlier this year, chip giant Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) refreshed its mainstream desktop personal-computer chip lineup with a new family of chips based on its Kaby Lake architecture.
The Kaby Lake chips, which are now formally marketed as seventh-generation Core processors, offered modest improvements to the prior-generation Skylake processors, marketed as sixth-generation Core.
The basic chip architecture was the same, but Intel made improvements in the manufacturing technology used to build the chips. The company also probably improved the circuit-level implementation of the chips to take full advantage of the gains delivered by the enhanced manufacturing technology.
The net result was that, at least in the desktop personal-computer market, Intel bumped performance up by roughly 10% generation over generation.
More performance is always better, but for some segments of the market, such as enthusiast gaming, a 10% performance improvement isn't the sort of thing that gets people amped up.
In what is seemingly a response to renewed competitive pressures in the enthusiast and gaming desktop market, Intel has pulled in its follow-on to the Kaby Lake-based desktop processors, known as Coffee Lake.
Coffee Lake is, again, based on the same basic architecture as the Skylake and Kaby Lake parts, but it benefits from yet another manufacturing technology refinement. In addition, while the Kaby Lake parts topped out at just four CPU cores, Coffee Lake is expected to include six.
An aggressive part from Intel
A new leak on the HardOCP forums reveals the specifications of the top gaming-oriented Coffee Lake part, known as the Core i7 8700K.
In addition to sporting two more CPU cores than the prior-generation Core i7-7700K -- Intel's current best gaming processor -- Intel has also apparently improved the one- and two-core turbo boost frequencies of the 8700K relative to its predecessor.
Out of the box, the Core i7 7700K could run a single core at 4.5GHz and two to four cores at 4.4GHz. Certainly, these are respectable frequencies that allowed the 7700K to deliver a good performance boost over its predecessor, the 6700K, and to make it arguably the best processor for gaming on the market today.
The 8700K, also out of the box, appears to run a single core at 4.7GHz, a 4.4% increase; two cores at 4.6GHz, a 4.5% increase; four cores at 4.4GHz, same as the 7700K; and six cores at 4.3GHz.
In addition, the 8700K includes 12 megabytes of last-level cache memory, up from 8 megabytes on the 7700K, which could further boost performance.
Based on these specifications, the 8700K should deliver slightly better performance than the current 7700K in applications that can't use more than four cores, while delivering substantially better performance in tasks that can use more than four cores, as it has 50% more cores.
Pricing hasn't yet been revealed for this part, but if the part really is marketed as the Core i7-8700K, that would suggest that it really is a direct successor to the Core i7-7700K. Intel typically doesn't change prices too much from one generation to the next, so I wouldn't be surprised to see the 8700K come in at about the same price as the current 7700K.
Priced right, the 8700K should be quite a compelling part for the gaming and enthusiast desktop community.