When Intel launched its new high-end desktop platform a few weeks ago, we were provided with Core-X CPUs from quad cores on the latest Kaby Lake microarchitecture, and 6/8/10 core parts on the Skylake-SP microarchitecture derived from the enterprise line and taking a different route to how the cache was structured over Skylake-S. At the time we were told that these latter parts would be joined by bigger SKUs all the way up to 18 cores, and up to $2000. Aside from core-counts and price, Intel was tight lipped on the CPU specifications until today.

Skylake-X goes HCC

The original Skylake-X processors up to 10 cores used Intel’s LCC silicon, one of the three silicon designs typically employed in the enterprise space, and the lowest core count. The other two silicon designs, HCC and XCC, have historically been reserved for server CPUs and big money – if you wanted all the cores, you had to pay for them. So the fact that Intel is introducing HCC silicon into the consumer desktop market is a change in strategy, which many analysts say is due to AMD’s decision to bring their 16-core silicon into the market.

Both the new HCC-based processors and the recently released LCC-based processors will share the same LGA2066 socket as used on X299 motherboards, and all the processors will differ in core count, with slight variations on core frequencies, TDP and price.

The Skylake-X line-up now looks like:

Skylake-X Processors
  7800X 7820X 7900X   7920X 7940X 7960X 7980XE
Silicon LCC   HCC
Cores / Threads 6/12 8/16 10/20   12/24 14/28 16/32 18/36
Base Clock / GHz 3.5 3.6 3.3   2.9 3.1 2.8 2.6
Turbo Clock / GHz 4.0 4.3 4.3   4.3 4.3 4.3 4.2
TurboMax Clock N/A 4.5 4.5   4.4 4.4 4.4 4.4
L3 1.375 MB/core   1.375 MB/core
PCIe Lanes 28 44   44
Memory Channels 4   4
Memory Freq DDR4 2400 2666   2666
TDP 140W   140W 165W
Price $389 $599 $999   $1199 $1399 $1699 $1999

Along with this, we have several release dates to mention.

  • The 12-core Core i9-7920X will be available from August 28th
  • The 14-18 core parts will be available from September 25th (my birthday…)

On the specification side, the higher-end CPUs get a kick up in TDP to 165W to account for more cores and the frequency that these CPUs are running at. The top Core i9-7980XE SKU will have a base frequency of 2.6 GHz but a turbo of 4.2 GHz, and a Favored Core of 4.4 GHz. The turbo will be limited to 2 cores of load, however Intel has not listed the ‘all-core turbo’ frequencies which are often above the base frequencies, nor the AVX frequencies here. It will be interesting to see how much power the top SKU will draw.

One question over the launch of these SKUs was regarding how much they would impinge into Intel’s Xeon line of processors. We had already earmarked the Xeon Gold 6154/6150 as possible contenders for the high-end CPU, and taking the price out of the comparison, they can be quite evenly matched (the Xeons have a lower turbo, but higher base frequency). The Xeons also come with multi-socket support and more DRAM channels, at +60% the cost.

Comparing against AMD’s Threadripper gives the following:

Features Intel Core
Intel Core
AMD Ryzen
Threadripper 1950X
Platform X299 X299 X399
Socket LGA2066 LGA2066 TR4
Cores/Threads 18 / 36 16 / 32 16 / 32
Base/Turbo 2.6 / 4.2 / 4.4 2.8 / 4.2 / 4.4 3.4 / 4.0
GPU PCIe 3.0 44 44 60
L2 Cache 1 MB/core 1 MB/core 512 KB/core
L3 Cache 24.75 MB 22.00 MB 32.00 MB
TDP 165W 165W 180W
 Price $1999 $1699 $999

We fully expect the review embargoes to be on the launch dates for each CPU. Time to start ringing around to see if my sample was lost in the post.

Related Reading

Update on 8/8:

Due to some sleuthing, PCGamer managed to obtain turbo frequencies based on per-core loading. I'm surprised Intel doesn't give this data out like candy when the products are announced, but we're glad to have it nonetheless.

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  • colonelclaw - Monday, August 7, 2017 - link

    I suspect the 18-core will either launch at a lower price, or come down shortly after launch.
    Or stay at $2k and bomb.
  • cekim - Monday, August 7, 2017 - link

    Intel certainly won't be lowering that price. It may sell for lower eventually, but they are more than happy to wait until the next generation is out to adjust prices there rather than flinch in the current generation.
  • sharath.naik - Monday, August 7, 2017 - link

    Intel will need to bring the prices down. As at 2000$ they are not competing against ThreadRipper, they are competing with a 32 Core/64 thread EPYC 7551P which is also 2000$. The only advantage Intel holds is in single thread. I wish Intel did something similar and released a single socket 28 core Xeon at around 2000$-2500$ range.
  • ddriver - Monday, August 7, 2017 - link

    They aren't competing with either. It will match TR at double the cost, so half of the price/performance, and it will lose significantly to an equally priced Epyc.

    They are doing it just so they can brag about having 2 more cores in HEDT. I bet they hope they won't sell many of those, they'd rather sell them for a 1500$ extra as xeons, which any professional will have to pay for the ECC support. I mean every professional, dumb enough to buy such a low value product now that there is finally a vastly superior alternative.
  • Lolimaster - Monday, August 7, 2017 - link

    But any professional will get TR that actually supports ECC :D
  • ddriver - Tuesday, August 8, 2017 - link

    Yep, if you feel that badly the need to spend 2000$ on CPU, you will simply get TWO TR chips.

    After all, pretty much everything that requires such massive CPU power supports network rendering - be that 3d rendering, video rendering or whatever. So you will be able to do twice the work in the same unit of time. You could also use one system to prep batches while the other renders.

    Honestly, rich, silly fanboys are the only target market for intel's top end HEDT.
  • prateekprakash - Monday, August 7, 2017 - link

    @Ian When you get to review the cpu, could you please post the 1-2 minute graphs of the cpu load across each core ( the one in the windows task manager) while benchmarking the games?
    That would give us a fair idea of the kind of cpu threads utilized by the modern day games like GTA V and FIFA 17 demo.
    I am yet to see any reviewer post these graphs, so it would be kind of you to include them.
  • BrokenCrayons - Monday, August 7, 2017 - link

    The reason why you're not seeing those sorts of graphs is likely because the target market for high core count CPUs simply isn't PC gaming. The costs are too high for a significant number of people to purchase a processor with 18-cores and then play video games with it when a CPU with 4 higher clocked cores (possibly 8 in the next couple of years) will offer just as good or even better gaming performance -- better due to higher clock speeds attained by fewer cores.

    Spending $2K on a Skylake-X alone, not even factoring in platform costs, just to steal cars and run away from the popo when a Sandy/Ivy Bridge Core i5 (or a Kaby Lake i3) will give you very good FPS if it has an adequate GPU borders on irrational e-peen waving. I mean really, an i5-3320m and a Quadro NVS 5200m in a 2013-era Dell Latitude e6430 laptop can run GTA V pretty well and the dual core mobile Ivy Bridge isn't the system's performance bottleneck.
  • Glock24 - Monday, August 7, 2017 - link

    180W TDP.... maybe per core?
  • Glock24 - Monday, August 7, 2017 - link

    I meant 165W, but still...

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