The future is here, and it has 18 cores.
Intel on Tuesday took to the stage at Computex in Taipei, Taiwan, to unveil its newest range of processors, dubbed the X-Series. With its eyes set on content creators, overclockers and pro gamers (plenty of whom are crowding the Computex halls this week), Intel is pulling out all the superlatives it can muster to talk up the "extreme" processing power it's offering.
But extreme doesn't come cheap.
As the world waits for Intel's eighth-generation processors, the company says its next iteration of seventh-gen chips will offer "extreme enthusiasts" greater speeds and less downtime with its most powerful range of processors to date.
"Although many equate enthusiasts solely with gamers -- and they are certainly a vital part of the community -- it also includes content creators, which in this immersive, data-driven world is a rapidly growing percentage of the population," Gregory Bryant, general manager of Intel's client-computing group, said in a statement Tuesday.
These aren't the kind of processors that are going to power your next family PC, and that's why the top-of-the-line chip will set you back a cool $2K. The X-Series is built for a niche market. Sure, we've seen updates to processors for laptops and PCs already this year from Intel, but we didn't get anything meaningfully faster than what we already had.
With the traditional PC market stagnating over the past two years, Intel has to up the ante and target high-end consumers looking for a power fix. Meanwhile, the rapid growth of computing-intensive activities like esports and virtual reality up new arenas for chipmakers.
And that's where those 18 cores come in.
The X-Series will range from four- to 10-core chips, with Intel promising 12-, 14-, 16- and 18-core options in the future. To put it simply, more cores give you more processing power, and Intel's architecture makes sure the right core is optimized for the right job.
We saw 10-core processing power with last year's Broadwell-E launch, which brought improvements in processing power and a focus on "megatasking" -- think multitasking, but for people who have epic stuff to do.
This year, Intel is going one better with "extreme megatasking." (There's that "E" word again.) Aside from sounding like a side-effect of too much caffeine, that essentially means the ability to run multiple computing-intensive tasks at a time.
As examples, Intel said editors could run Adobe Premiere Pro, Photoshop and Lightroom and handle multigigabyte files without a meltdown. Content creators will be able to stitch together six concurrent 4K streams to create 360-degree video like it's no big deal. Pro gamers will be able to capture 4K gameplay, livestream it to fans and record their highlight reel all at once.
And overclockers? They'll have all the knobs they've ever dreamed of.
We saw some of these features with Broadwell-E, but as with all chip updates, the X-Series promises to do it faster, better and with less downtime.
We're also getting updated Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 to improve single- and dual-core performance.
Now, time for the price tag. The 10-core X-Series (Core i9-7900X) will retail for $999 (£780, AU$1,340), while 18-cores of grunt (Core i9-7980XE) will retail for $1,999 (£1,560, AU$2,683). And don't forget, that new processing power will need a new motherboard (the new CPUs use a new socket) so you're looking at a significant overhaul of hardware.
But at least it will be extreme.
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