Computex 2018: Intel announces a 28-core monster CPU

Intel has a big presence at Computex this year, and has announced several new products and details about their next-generation processors. The company has struggled somewhat to improve their public image after the Meltdown and Spectre attacks revealed earlier this year, and surprisingly CEO Brian Krzanich wasn’t on the stage to make the new product announcements. Today Intel announced the Core i7-8086K Limited Edition, a monster 28-core desktop processor running at 5.0GHz on all cores, along with the names of the next three CPU families, codenamed Whiskey Lake-U, Amber Lake-Y, and Cascade Lake-X.

28 cores at 5.0GHz

Intel’s SVP and GM of Client Computing, Gregory Bryant, announced the existence of a desktop CPU that Intel’s engineers are currently working on, but didn’t reveal too much about what motherboard it was running on, how much it would cost, or how much power it consumed. Instead, Intel focused most of its messaging on the fact that they have a 28-core chip running at 5.0GHz, blowing away every other record-holder in Cinebench by a wide margin, scoring 7,334 points on the all-core benchmark.

Intel said that they’re working on this product in conjunction with engineers from ASUS and GIGABYTE. It will be available for sale in Q4 2018.

Intel already has a 28-core product using their new Mesh architecture in the form of the Xeon Platinum 8180, but that’s a monolithic design with a single die. It sells for $10,000 in 1,000-unit tray quantities (meaning you’d have to buy an entire tray to get that price direct from Intel), and it only boosts up to 3.5GHz on just a few cores.

If this is a new product, it’s very likely a multi-die design much like AMD’s Ryzen family, where multiple dies are arranged on a package that goes onto a die. If that is the case, it’s going to be a hot, power-hungry system. Tweaktown managed to snap some pictures of the demo unit Intel used onstage, and it’s made by ASUS. It’s a modified server motherboard with one socket removed, attached to a 1600W Platinum-rated power supply. Every part of the power delivery for the CPU is actively cooled with fans and large heatsinks. Even the processor itself is water-cooled.

Intel Core i7-8086K boosting to 5.0GHz

The existence of an anniversary edition processor to commemorate the launch of the 8086 forty years ago has been rumoured for months, but it’s finally been revealed by Intel. This is a limited edition run of the Core i7-8700K, and only 50,000 units will ever be made. It has a base clock speed of 4.0GHz and a boost clock speed for two cores and four threads to 5.0GHz. It’s the fastest consumer desktop processor Intel has ever made, and that extra performance will cost around $425, which is a $65 premium over the regular Core i7-8700K.

It’s interesting that there’ll only be 50,000 units worldwide, because recently there’s been a trend in overclocking circles where fewer and fewer people are finding Core i7-8700K processors that are capable of running at 5.3GHz when overclocked. The 5.3GHz and 5.2GHz bins have been unavailable from Silicon Lottery for more than eight months. It’s possible that Intel was binning high-quality chips at around the same time to build up stock for this special SKU, and it’s far more likely that these chips will be the best-quality silicon that Intel can manufacture.

There’s also a giveaway to win one of 8086 Core i7-8086K processors, but South Africa isn’t an eligible country to enter the sweepstakes. Meh.

A cascade of Lakes

Intel also announced a new lineup of processors that will be added to the “8th Gen” Core family. The Whiskey Lake-U, Amber Lake-Y, and Cascade Lake-X processors will all be joining in and will be adding a “Plus” moniker to the product name. The 8th Gen family already includes processors that belong to the Kaby Lake, Kaby Lake-X, Coffee Lake, Skylake-X, and Cannon Lake families, so one could be excused for being confused. Remember, Intel currently doesn’t have a working 10nm process, so any products based on that will be low-end and won’t be launching for high-performance applications until mid-2019 at the earliest.

The Core i Plus 8th Gen family will likely be based on the same 14nm process that Intel uses for their existing products, and may additionally include one or a few 10nm products in the low-end chip brands like Pentium or Celeron. Intel says they have 70 design wins coming out this year with their major partners, and we can look forward to seeing these new processors in notebooks starting in Q3 2018. While Whiskey Lake and Amber Lake will have applications in notebooks and ultrabooks, Cascade Lake will be found on Intel’s high-end desktop platform (HEDT) late this year, but is not the same product family as the 28-core behemoth Intel announced today.