It hasn't even been two months since chip giant Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) unveiled its 9th Gen Core processors for the gaming-oriented desktop PC market, and yet the rumor mill is already churning out information about the products that the company is preparing to launch for that segment next year.
Let's take a closer look at what just leaked out and what that could mean for Intel's next gaming desktop processor product line.
More cores for fun and profit
Intel's 8th Gen Core gaming desktop processors came in configurations with up to six physical processor cores. Those cores -- at least in the top-end model, known as the Core i7-8700K -- had a feature enabled known as HyperThreading, which allowed each core to pretend that it's two, which can help boost performance in applications that can make use of an increased number of processor cores, like video editing and offline 3D rendering.
The top configuration of this year's 9th Gen Core processors -- a product that's branded the Core i9-9900K -- has eight physical cores, with each acting as two for a total of 16 logical cores. Additionally, while the Core i7-8700K carried an MSRP of between $359 and $370, according to the chip giant's website, the Core i9-9900K commands an MSRP of between $488 and $499.
It's worth noting that, in general, Intel's PC processor business year-to-date has benefited greatly from an increase in average selling prices. According to the company's third-quarter earnings report, the company's desktop platform volumes are down 5% year-to-date, but that has been more than compensated for by a 10% increase in average selling prices. In notebooks, that impact is less pronounced as unit shipments are actually up 5% year-to-date with average selling price up just 2%.
Now, according to a user who goes by the handle "chrisdar" on the PTT forums (via WCCFTech), Intel's next gaming-oriented desktop processor lineup will be based on a chip that goes by the code name Comet Lake-S. That chip, chrisdar says, will incorporate 10 physical cores and be manufactured using the company's 14nm (nanometer) technology.
I'm inclined to believe chrisdar because that individual has previously posted accurate information about upcoming Intel processors.
What this means for the lineup
Intel has been clear that in the PC processor market, the goal is to release new products that deliver meaningful performance improvements each year. By developing a 10-core Comet Lake-S chip, the company should be able to deliver performance improvements in each tier of its gaming processor product stack: Core i5, Core i7, Core i9.
Today's Core i5-9600K has six physical cores enabled with HyperThreading disabled, the Core i7-9700K has eight physical cores with HyperThreading disabled, and the Core i9 has eight physical cores with HyperThreading enabled. Intel tells me that the six-core part is based on the same silicon die that the eight-core parts are, so two physical cores (as well as some cache memory) are disabled.
With a single 10-core Comet Lake-S die, Intel could craft successors to each of those products. At the top of the stack under the Core i9 branding would be a 10-core part with HyperThreading enabled. Below that would be a 10-core part with HyperThreading disabled, and then below that would be a chip with only eight cores enabled and HyperThreading disabled. In other words, at each of the Core i5, Core i7, and Core i9 tiers, Intel would deliver two more physical processor cores.