Intel is going to have a very, very busy next few weeks as it gears up for the launch of the Haswell-E family, which will bring along with it the X99 chipset (detailed by Neo in the June edition of NAG) and the first commercial support for DDR4 memory. Not only does the platform and memory controller change drastically, Intel is also changing the high-end “prosumer” lineup for the first time, offering six and eight-core processors for LGA2011-3. Hit the jump for more details about these behemoths.
The X99 platform is replacing X79 and will be around for just as long as its predecessor. While Haswell-E launches later this year, there won’t be a Broadwell successor in 2015. Nope, that will be skipped in favour of Skylake-E launching in 2016, which means that Haswell-E chips will have to last a two years on the market before they get replaced. Skylake will be the first chip family to use DDR4 memory on cheaper motherboards and processors like the quad-core Core i7 and i5 chips, as well as scaling down to Core i3, Pentium and Celeron markets. Those two years will allow AMD a chance to catch up to gain at least DDR4 compatibility and a new chipset and socket in the meantime.
Haswell-E, according to a leak by Coolaler.com, says that the chip will launch with three processors – the Core i7-5960X, the i7-5930K and the i7-5820K. The Core i7-5960X is completely mad, boasting a native eight-core design along with hyper-threading on all cores, giving you another eight virtual cores. There’s 20MB of cache, base clocks of 3.0GHz with an unknown boost clock, support for DDR4-2133 at a minimum and a maximum of 40 PCI-Express 3.0 lanes.
Both the Core i7-5930K and the i7-5820K have six core with hyper-threading, 15MB of cache and very close base clock speeds. All three chips share the same 140W TDP and all have unlocked multipliers and configurable BLCK ratios. But its the PCI-Express assignment that changes drastically. On the Core i7-5960X and i7-5930K one can support up to three graphics cards running at 16x/16x/8x PCI-Express 3.0 speeds (40 lanes in total), whereas the core i7-5820K would be able to do similar, but one GPU would not have enough bandwidth to perform at the same level as the others, thanks to the 16x/8x/4x configuration.
Its worth noting that the PCI-E layout on the Core i7-5820K is an artificial limitation and Intel decided to gimp its capabilities to make the i7-5930K a more enticing buy.
Its drastically different to the current situation on the Z87 and Z97 platforms – there are 16 PCI-Express 3.0 lanes available for GPUs without the use of a PEX PLX bridging chip.It’s possible to run three graphics cards with the lanes set to 8x/4x/4x speeds, allowing for triple-SLI or Crossfire. There’s finally a real incentive to not choose the Z87 or Z97 platforms, but you’d almost certainly have to double your spend to afford the i7-5930K and a motherboard with three PCI-E 3.0 slots spaced evenly.
X99 and Haswell-E, then, isn’t going to appeal to everyone and almost certainly it won’t be able suitable for most workloads. But at least the option will be here soon and the sooner X79 leaves the market, the better.