Intel has officially confirmed rumours of new flagship, enthusiast-targeted processors, the Core i9 X-series, with up to 18 cores and 36 threads on the new X299 chipset.

First rumoured earlier this month courtesy of an anonymously-leaked German language slide deck, Intel's Core i9 X-series family is even more powerful than previously expected: While the top-end model from the leak, the Core i9-7920X, topped out at 12 cores and 24 threads Intel's real top-end model hits 18 cores and 36 threads - a first for a product aimed at enthusiasts rather than the workstation and server markets and an announcement which is hard to see as anything other than a pre-emptive strike against AMD's upcoming 16-core, 32-thread Ryzen Threadripper chip.

'At the top of the lineup is the new Intel Core i9 Extreme Edition processor, the first consumer desktop CPU with 18 cores and 36 threads,' explained Intel's Gregory Bryant following his presentation unveiling the chip at Computex 2017. 'This is by far the most extreme desktop processor ever introduced. With such a wide range of options and price points to match, the new Intel Core X-series processor family delivers the most scalable and accessible desktop platform for the enthusiast community.

'Along with this family of processors, we’re introducing the new Intel x299 chipset, which adds even more I/O and overclocking capabilities, and we are announcing updates to Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0, which will now identify the two top performing cores and direct critical workloads to those cores for a big jump in single- or multithreaded performance.'

Intel's branding for the Core i9 and X-series parts is, however, slightly muddled. The top-end 18-core 36-thread part is dubbed the Core i9 Extreme Edition, while only lesser processors are directly market as Core i9 X-series. The X-series itself, too, is spread across some decidedly less-than-flagship stock keeping units (SKUs) from quad-core Core i5 X-series parts upwards.

To further cement its relationship with enthusiasts, Intel has also announced an own-branded all-in-one liquid cooling system based around a 120mm radiator. Dubbed the Intel Thermal Solution TS13X, the all-in-one is compatible with Socket 2011, 1366, and 115X motherboards, and while final pricing has yet to be confirmed Intel has announced a target price of $85 to $100 - likely equating to an £85 to £100 price tag including taxes in the UK.

Full details about the Intel X-series processors and the X299 chipset on which they will run can be found in Intel's slide deck (PDF warning). UK pricing has yet to be confirmed, with Intel setting US pricing for the 18-core Core i9 Extreme Edition at $1,999 (around £1,554 excluding taxes).
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