Core i9 description by Intel

Intel has unveiled its Core i9 at the Taipei Computex 2017. The rumors at the beginning of this month were well founded.

ProcessorBase clock speed (GHz)Turbo 2.0 frequency (GHz)Turbo 3.0 frequency (GHz)Cores / threadsL3 cachePCI Express 3.0 lanesTDPPrice
i9-7900X3.34.34.510/2013.75 MB44140W$999
i7-7820X3.64.34.58/1611 MB28140W$599
i7-7800X3.54.0NA6/128.25 MB28140W$389
i7-7740X4.34.5NA4/88 MB16112W$339
i5-7640X4.04.2NA4/46 MB16112W$242

A record

It is a considerable step forward for the number of cores since it goes from a maximum of 10 cores and 20 threads (logical cores) to 18 cores and 36 threads! A fantastic advance for an incredible price too, given that we reach the 2,000 dollars (against 1743 dollars currently for the i7-6950X), a minimum of 2,000 euros if we retranscribe the prices for the European public. Intel is stating performance gains of 10 to 15 percent over the previous generation.

The 4-core chips use the Kaby Lake-X architecture and the others the Skylake-X architecture.

AMD’s reply to come

AMD will soon announce its new processors range to align to the Core i9. It will probably be as powerful and much cheaper. We can congratulate AMD with its Ryzen 7 and 5 that was able to relaunch the AMD-Intel war in the performance race.

The rumor about AMD was up to 16 cores and 32 threads. Intel hopes to remain the master for the maximum number of cores. The sudden passage of 10 cores to 18 cores within a year is a proof that Intel makes very little effort when there is no pressure from its historic opponent.

The price of 10 cores is changed from $1743 to $999, it is almost divided by two!

Barely 3 years from 8 cores to 16 cores

The first Intel processor sold to the public was the Intel 4004 in 1971 (engraved in 10 μm). The first AMD processor was the K5 in 1996 (etched in 500 nm). The first dual-core was released in 2005 with the Pentium D and the Athlon 64 X2 (both engraved in 90 nm). The first four cores arrived in 2006 with the QX6700 (engraved in 65 nm). The first eight cores is the Core i7-5960X in 2014 (etched in 22 nm). And so the first sixteen cores will be the i9-7960X for the year 2017 (etched in 14 nm).

Either three years waiting to go from 8 to 16 cores, against 8 years previously to go from 4 to 8 cores, only one year to go from 2 to 4 cores. And at the beginning 34 years to go from 1 heart to 2 hearts, the time to tend towards the limit of the mono core.

The servers already have processors with more than 18 cores, with a record at 28 cores for the Xeon Platinum 8180 currently sold at $ 12,400.

Extreme consumption

What is rather disturbing is the power consumption required to run the processors: 140W for the i9-7900X and the latest i7. And probably much more for the others. This and the addition of new processors compared to the rumor suggests that Intel has probably rushed to face AMD, which it denies.

As a reminder, the Core i7-6950X and the Core i7-5960X consume more than 140W on average in maximum consumption (for advanced applications) against 64W for the Core i7-7700, 98W for the Core i7-7700K. The Core i7-6900K is still at 141W. The records being held by the FX-9590 with 199W, followed by the FX-9370 with 192W!

According to Intel, all chips with more than 12 cores will have a TDP (Thermal Design Power) consumption of 165W!

On the server side, processors have this type of TDP, it can even reach 205W.

Limited interest

The utility of multi-cores, at least beyond 4 cores, is not useful for ordinary mortals, like: a person who would use a PC to surf the Web, check his emails, write Word documents or Excel; A person who would play pushed video games; A person who would use advanced applications such as Photoshop.

It is only users who use extreme applications, such as video file editing software, 3D environment editing, very high resolution photograph editing, high level calculation and statistics software, that would find a real interest.

Over time, we are moving closer to server processors that are perfect for machine virtualization.

We imagine that in the future, software and video game developers will need to optimize their codes so that the multi-cores really make it possible to improve, boost and evolve the final product. Knowing that it will not be easy to go further in term of frequency for a single core, being limited by the heat produced, the consumption of electricity; It would be necessary for electricity to become cheaper and to use refrigerant gases (such as liquid nitrogen) in our PCs.

Other technical aspects

We can imagine that the basic frequency of the i9-7980XE will be less than 3.0 GHz given the number of cores.

The memory support for the i7-7800X is four DDR4 2400 channels. While the i9-7900X, i7-7820X, i7-7740X and i5-7640X are the four-channel DDR4 2666.

The socket (LGA) for all these new processors is 2066.

One remains with a build set at 14 nanometers.

Release date

There is no information for the date of sale of these processors. Basically, the processors were supposed to be released for late June / early July.