back to article Core-blimey! Intel's Core i9 18-core monster – the numbers

Intel's offered some more detail about the Core i9 range of desktop CPUs it announced in May. Here's what Chipzilla has planned for us all when these chips start to go on sale. The 12-core products will appear as of August 28th. 14-to-18-core kit will go on sale as of September 25th. Processor Name Core i9- 7980XE X- Core …


    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: 36 cores at 4.2 GHz?

      According to this table (from PCGamer) it can manage 3.4GHz with 18 cores, 42.GHz with two cores.

  1. redpawn Silver badge

    No need for a home heating system

    Just lots of money for the computer and the power to feed it.

  2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Nice L3 cache you've got there

    You could run WinNT quite nicely on that, although you'd need to tweak a BIOS setting to disable hyperthreading or else the number of cores on the top-end part would be too large.

    I don't know if you could run Win95 on it. Do these things still have a mode where they can run 16-bit instructions?

    1. joeldillon

      Re: Nice L3 cache you've got there

      Yes, they do, as every x86 chip does. They all still start out in 16 bit mode like it's 1985 until the OS switches them into long mode.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Nice L3 cache you've got there

        Even with EFI-based systems?

        1. Lennart Sorensen

          Re: Nice L3 cache you've got there

          No on UEFI systems they start in 16bit mode then the firmware rather quickly switches to 64 bit mode and that's the mode it starts the OS in, unless you enable legacy boot mode, in which case it switches back to 16 bit for booting.

  3. Adam 52 Silver badge

    I haven't really cared about desktop CPU performance in years. The limiting factor on performance these days seems to be whether the bloated apps have consumed all the memory and started thrashing, if whether the badly written JavaScript has got stuck in an infinite loop or the anti-virus has taken it upon itself to scan every DLL load.

    More cores is nice, but only because it gives you a working core to use to kill the aforementioned JavaScript process.

  4. David Roberts Silver badge

    Just me?

    Or is the 10 core budget version the highest performer?

    Highest base clock, highest boosted clock, lower rated power useage.

    For everything but the most obscure workloads individual core performance is likely to trump the number of cores once you get above, say, 8 (possibly 4 or less) especially with two threads per core.

    1. Beech Horn

      Re: Just me?

      14 core doesn't look bad either when you see the speeds across cores for TurboBoost. It requires a bit more in-depth analysis than an article which gets the core count wrong though...

    2. ArrZarr Silver badge

      Re: Just me?

      The only answer that anybody could give you and be right is: It depends.

      Heavy Multithreaded CPU workloads that aren't being palmed off to the GPU will definitely benefit from the extra cores at a lower frequency. Also there will probably be similar potential for overclocking across the chips so you'd probably be able to get any of these chips screaming along at 5GHz+ with watercooling.

      If you're gaming, most games will bottleneck on the graphics first even down at the mid i5 range which reach similar frequencies anyway. Bringing streaming into the mix, more cores are handy as it means that any encoding and CPU manged network activity isn't using the same core(s) you're gaming on.

      Video editing is dependent upon your setup but there will probably be some part of the workflow which is CPU intensive.

      VR gaming could probably use more cores due to the number crunching required to prevent motion sickness but is also highly GPU dependent.

      so yeah. It depends.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge

      Re: Xenon

      Xeons are slightly different beasts. This price range of ~$2k gives you 14 cores with a base speed of 2GHz, turboing up to 2.8GHz and Xeons don't overclock in the same way as the Core processors. You'll also get all sorts of datacentre gubbins and probably improved warranties etc.

      For a Streamer, the i9 processors are a better deal.

    2. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Xenon

      The problem with Xenon CPUs is that it's hard to contain all that gas.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Michael Duke

      Re: Cost of AMD CPU In General


      Look at the AMD Ryzen 3 1200 mate, much better option compared to a current gen APU.

      If you want an APU wait for the Zen based ones towards the end of the year.

    2. Lotaresco Silver badge

      Re: Cost of AMD CPU In General

      "Is there something about AMD i am missing - and why don't vendors use AMD more ?"

      They seem to use AMD quite often. The thing you need to check is TDP in the specs. Some AMD CPUs gobble electrons, although they have been getting better recently.

    3. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Cost of AMD CPU In General

      The short version (and I'm trying to get this comment in before the Intel and AMD fanbois start fighting) is that AMD hasn't been making competitive CPUs for a few years, until now.

      They've been making cheap CPUs, but Intel are still making the fastest. With their new Ryzen (silly name) architecture, it seems like AMD are finally at least in the same race as Intel, so I suspect you'll start to see them being used by more OEMs. AMD are cheap because otherwise nobody would buy them, they've been losing money to stay in the game.

      Unless you're looking at the high end, the AMD chip will probably be better value for you.

    4. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Cost of AMD CPU In General

      AMD has better value CPUs if you don't need the absolutely fastest available. It has had this for a long time now. With Ryzen they may actually now compete, or beat, Intel in the top performance level too.

      Cheap motherboards for AMD are easier to find, and AMD traditionally has had good upgrade paths for faster CPUs on older motherboards (i.e sockets). Meaning often RAM and Mobo investments can be kept for longer.

      Sadly Ryzen isn't available for AM3+ sockets, so there is a definite break with the previous generation AMD CPUs. (AM3+ has had a good run though).

      I have run AMD in all my PCs for the last 18 years, so someone may want to add Intel info and correct me on the value aspect..

      P.S: There was a debacle about Intel's compilers fixing the binaries to run much faster on Intel CPUs, in effect making benchmark software (as well as actual applications) favour Intel. IRL AMDs are quite fast.

      P.P.S: "Is there something about AMD i am missing - and why don't vendors use AMD more ?"

      There is a lot of business decision making going on, with lock-ins, Intel leveraging it's size, sales trickery, and so on. Comparable to MS vs the rest.

      P.P.P.S: The value of having at least one other player competing with Intel is immense. That's one reason II never abandoned AMD.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: Cost of AMD CPU In General

      Because Intel gave out rebates to those that used Intel only. At one point Intel was giving Dell close to a billion dollars a year i rebates. When AMD offered to give HP 1 million free CPUs HP turned it down because the amount of money they would lose from intel was to great. Things have started to change in the last 5 years though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cost of AMD CPU In General

        If you want to know why they stopped these deals, the €1.43 BILLION fine helped.

        1. kain preacher Silver badge

          Re. Hp is still using low end AMD APU: Cost of AMD CPU In General

          But by then the damage has been done. Untill Ryzen came out Dell only used AMD cheapest chips on the lowest spec crap . HP is still using low end APU from AMD. Lenovo seems to have a decent spec AMD line up.

    6. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

      Re: Cost of AMD CPU In General

      Until recently AMD haven't been comparable except at the low end - their APU offerings are ok because the standard of bundled GPU is better (for desktops) than the Intel alternative. They also do some interesting embedded options.

      With Ryzen, at the high end they're not quite as good as Intel, but a lot cheaper. If you don't need the absolute fastest single threaded performance they're a decent deal.

      They haven't kept up with virtualisation enhancements like Intel, though, aside from the new encrypted memory options, which is a pity at the server end.

      For a low end box, I'd have no issue using AMD. For a reasonably high end desktop that's mostly concerned with running lots of processes, but also needs to be quite fast, I'd also consider AMD. For an all out gaming box I'd go Intel, and for virtualisation I'd look at a Xeon.

      For an embedded firewall I'm looking at an Alix APU2. AMD Jaguar core, fanless, decent encryption support on chip.

      1. kain preacher Silver badge

        Re: Cost of AMD CPU In General

        Athlon 64 were. In fact for a tiny bit there were the fast clacked x86. Athlon's were the first to the GHz race

  7. P0l0nium

    Bragging rights ...

    The "high end" of this HEDT thing is all about bragging rights: Intel scrambled to release an 18 core part because they weren't about to have AMD deliver "moar coars" .

    So now they have problems getting the heat out of this thing and the AMD part has an advantage there because its "heat generating area" is larger and distributed (because it has 2 or 4 widely spaced die under a bigger slug of copper).

    So I guess we're about to find out if Intel's "process advantage" is real ... right ??

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Bragging rights ...

      And AMD are not cheaping out and using crappy thermal paste between the CPU die and the heatspreader.

      (seriously Intel, how much are you really saving on a £2000 part?)

  8. msknight Silver badge

    Reizen... out there and aimed at the same graphics processing audience... and like this i9, doesn't appear to be punching much at gamers.

    Reasonable, sort-of Reizen roundup...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Are 36 cores really that useful for anything? TBH i'd rather have a few really fast general cores, and a wodge of easily programmable FPGA silicon.

  10. Robert E A Harvey

    Scared again?`

    Is this just to shit on AMD?

    They could presumably have done this at any time in the last 3 years, so are they doing it now because AMD are climbng out of the well at last?

    1. Nimby

      Re: Scared again?`

      "Is this just to shit on AMD?"

      Heh heh. Wouldn't you? Nothing to do with fear. Everything to do with needing a good laugh. A king needs a good court jester to kick every now and then.

  11. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    If they insist on the top-of-the-line i9-7980 their desire will come at a cost of about $276"

    Sounds pretty reasonable to me!

    Still sticking with AMD though.

  12. Nimby

    These aren't the cores you're looking for...

    Intel's i9 is a solution in search of a problem. As a gamer who builds his own boxes, unfortunately, I don't even remotely see how i9 helps gamers.

    There are basically two big bottlenecks to gamers today: PCIe lanes (aka more graphics cards and m.2 SSDs please!) and memory bandwidth.

    Throwing more cores at the problem is, at best, just making things worse. It lowers the top-end GHz. (To date that still matters a lot. It's why we OC. Duh!) Gamers need the opposite of the i9: less cores on a larger die with a better thermal interface and lower voltages so that they can push the need for speed with a chip that OCs well.

    If Intel really wants to help gamers, they need to ditch the more cores = better concept and get back to basics: Faster is better, bandwidth is your bottleneck, and cooling is king. It's a recipe as easy as π.

  13. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I want one !

    18 cores. Miam.

    Got a 4 core i7-6700 since 2015. I also slapped in 32GB of DDR4-3200.

    Can I justify upgrading ? Not really. Doesn't matter. I want one of these babies. I'll get one in 2019 probably. With 64GB of DDR5 (by then).

    I'll be able to push 7 Days to the full 3840 x 2160 of my widescreen. Finally.

    Of course, by then another game will come out that will put my rig to its knees. As usual.

  14. deconstructionist

    To be honest the bottleneck in most PC's is the GPU not the CPU, I've been running a Hasswell 5820K 6 cores clocked to 4.5 per core for a while now and I have tried 3 different GPU's GTX980 , TITAN X, GTX1080TI on a ASUS IPS Gysnc 144htz 27" .

    Each card is happy to run everything at 1080p at 144htz , at QHD 2560 X 1440 the 980 wont hit 144htz in modern FPS's with all the goodies but the other two are happy , and at 4K UHD the TITAN X drops sub 144 htz every now and then but the 1080 seems flawless unless you start plugging in second monitors.

    4K play back/encoding the 980 is utter shit , the TITAN X is ok but the 1080 wins hands down (and the cpu or how many cores makes no difference).

    Spend your cash on a good monitor and GPU , and spend what is left on a mediocre CPU a treat.

    Simple rules for gamers

    1. always spend more on your monitor and gpu than anything else.

    2. you only need SLI if you have more than one monitor or you are trying to get 2 crappy cards working which is usually pointless.

    3. you don't need a 60 core x 100 ghz to run Dota2/LOL/WOW/CSGO.

    4. V.R ready does require big blue or quantum computing for a 10min on rails zombie train shooter

  15. John Savard Silver badge

    Price Premium

    Paying a higher price for a CPU to get the highest possible performance - particularly when the cost of the rest of the system reduces the percentage extra one is paying for higher performance - is not irrational. Which is part of why Intel can get away with its current pricing.

  16. Howard Long

    Multiple cores makes development a breeze

    My use case is cross platform and embedded development, my daily driver for this is a dual core Xeon E5-2697v2 (24C/48T) from the Ivy Bridge era. If you have thousands of source files to compile for multiple targets, or for the edit-compile-debug loop, it makes it a relative breeze. Going to the more mainstream i7-7700K or even Ryzen 7 1800x is really quite a disappointment for productivity (relatively speaking, of course!)

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

      Re: Multiple cores makes development a breeze

      I strongly suggest you look at ccache. If it is an option (it should) you may cut compile time by a factor of 100.

      In case you cannot use ccache and have some money to splash, Naples has 32 cores (64 threads) per socket. Dual socket systems should be available, that's 128 threads for you.

    2. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Multiple cores makes development a breeze

      The E5-2697 v2 has 12 cores, not 24.

  17. nickx89

    Well, those are threads not physical cores.

    To put it simply, a thread is a single line of commands that are getting processed, each application has at least one thread, most have multiples. A core is the physical hardware that works on the thread. In general a processor can only work on one thread per core, CPUs with hyper threading can work on up to two threads per core. For processors with hyper threading, there are extra registers and execution units in the core so it can store the state of two threads and work on them both.

    1. Nimby

      Re: Well, those are threads not physical cores.

      "For processors with hyper threading, there are extra registers and execution units in the core so it can store the state of two threads and work on them both."

      Are there though? Pretty sure the horrible inefficiency of logical cores I see on most systems (especially craptops) comes down to that NOT being the case. It's just trying to execute two threads in the same compute resource and, frankly, there just ain't enough to go around. It's why in my software I tend to limit execution by physical cores. Logical cores are only good for background processes and services. ;)

      (Which, in today's OSes at least, is a useful thing to have. But only helps in that it frees up the junk processes to run in their own hell of ineptitude so that everything else has real compute power to run on.)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well, those are threads not physical cores.

        Yes -- the OP is incorrect ; execution resources are shared and not particularly increased

        for the second thread. The reg files are doubled up, but it is about utilising at higher fraction

        of a fixed superscalar resource.

        However, most cores on most code are idle most of the time. Waiting on memory. The sharing of execution resources isn't really why most people see "hype threads" as not working so well.

        The more fundamental problem is the sharing of the L1 cache and the bus to L2. L1

        thrashing in particular can be as painful to watch as two keystone cops vying for the same door

        and neither making it through.


  18. Samsara

    I use Macs & Final Cut Pro X for a living, & the loads appear to be distributed between GPU & CPU (couldn't tell you *exactly* what is doing what) from seeing the performance of a variety of machines that I yes, a big fast new chip (I assume this is whats going in the forthcoming iMac 'Pro') would be very much welcome...also in the audio processing side of things its 100% CPU load

  19. analyzer


    Most people seem to recognise that more cores/threads is not important above a certain number. The issue, as always, is getting enough data into and out of the CPU.

    I would have thought that the deficit that Intel have regarding PCIe lanes is far more important to the high end people than actual core count. Ryzen will have 128 PCIe lanes and Intel are still stuck with 44, that amounts to a potentially huge data throughput deficit for Intel i9 processors and there is no indication from Intel that this will change.

    The caveat is wait for real systems to turn up and crunch the numbers on, but on a system wide basis, it's looking far better for AMD than it has for years. Of course the system builders and MoBo manufacturers have to take advantage of those extra 84 PCIe lanes for Ryzen to really shine.

  20. jason 7

    I'll stick...

    ...with my 5820K for now. Plus in a couple of years I'll have some affordable Xeons to play around with from Ebay.

  21. jeffdyer

    36 threads, not 36 cores.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "If you are willing to pay that amount of money ... is it not better to go for a Xenon CPU ?"

    If the year falls before the year < 2022, yes. Technically, these are the old/current gen Xeons rebadged for desktop, I see nothing different than the exact 14c I have besides you aren't guaranteed anything with these i9's (xan. they even run in parallel?). I've been running 2 OK'ish 14 core ES chips for nearly 2 years, cost $300usd total for both. $720 for 128GB Hynix and $450 for a supermicro mobo. Still less than 1 of these CPU's.

    I think if I cared about gaming and streaming and all that, I clearly would buy AMD (actually I might stitch these CPU's and buy AMD anyway).

  23. TheElder

    Parallel CPU limitations

    There are fundamental limits on what may be achieved with multiple CPU architecture.

    Amdahl's law

    It may not mean anything soon.

    Graphene transistor could mean computers that are 1,000 times faster

    Less than a month since the above link we have this:

    First graphene transistor?

    And this:

    SAMSUNG Electronics Presents a New Graphene Device Structure


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