David Schor, a semiconductor industry analyst and engineer, recently tweeted his desire for chip giant Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) to build a processor aimed at desktop personal computers with a certain set of specifications. Here's the tweet:
Anyone from #Intel, please pitch this SKU to management! 🤞— David Schor (@david_schor) January 18, 2018
Launch Date: June 8, 2018
SKU: "Intel Core i7-8086K 40th Anniversary Edition"
Specs: 8th Gen (CFL), 6C/12T, 5 GHz Turbo, unlocked.
While the launch date and the naming of the chip don't necessarily need to be what Schor proposes (though the "40th Anniversary Edition" moniker could make for fun marketing materials), I think he's spot on in wanting Intel to release a chip with those specifications (hex-core chip that can run a single core at a maximum of 5GHz under the right thermal conditions).
An exciting selling point
Intel's best processor for gaming desktop computers is a popular part known as the Core i7-8700K. It runs at a base speed of 3.7GHz and a maximum single-core turbo speed of 4.7GHz. The single-core turbo speed is important because every core on the chip needs to be capable of running at that speed, meaning that more adventurous system builders know that with the right cooling solutions, they're virtually guaranteed a chip that can be tuned to run at 4.7GHz across all six cores without a problem.
In fact, some computer motherboard vendors incorporate functionality in their gaming-focused motherboards to, with a single click, run all the cores on Intel's K-series processors (the "K" indicates that the chip's frequency can be altered by the user) at that single-core turbo speed.
While most 8700K chips can be user-adjusted to run all six cores at 5GHz or higher (Silicon Lottery, which sells 8700K chips that are pre-certified to run at better-than factory specifications says that 72% of 8700K chips can run reliably at 5GHz or higher), many computer builders don't like to mess with the rated frequencies of the chips that they buy.
Changing those frequencies can sometimes lead to instability, data corruption, or even the death of the processor or other components in the system, especially if such changes are applied by inexperienced users. There's benefit, then, for chip companies like Intel to release chips that are certified to run at high speeds right out of the box.
I think by releasing a chip that can run at 5GHz out of the box, even if it's on a single core, Intel would be able to generate quite a lot of excitement among the small-but-growing set of enthusiast computer buyers.
Easy to implement
Another thing to keep in mind is that Intel wouldn't have to do very much to bring such a product to market. When processors are made, they are sorted based on their capabilities -- the highest-quality chips are rated at the highest speeds and sold for the most money while the lowest-quality chips are rated at lower speeds (and may even have functionality disabled) and sold for much less money.
The product that Schor describes would effectively amount to Intel finding the best of the 8700K chips and selling them at higher out-of-the-box frequencies. The company could charge a reasonable premium to what it sells the 8700K for and I think there would be enough buyers for such a product within the target audience that the effort would be worth it.