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article imageIntel 'Core i9' is now reality, costs up to $2,000

By James Walker     May 30, 2017 in Technology
Intel has announced the most significant change to its desktop processor line-up in over half a decade by adding a new sub-brand to its "Core" series. The new Core i9 is aimed at enthusiasts and power users. It offers up to 18 processing cores.
The Core branding began with the Core 2 Duo, the chip that saw Intel regain the top of the market from rival AMD. It has held that position ever since with AMD struggling to create compelling high-end options.
The status quo is now shifting though. Earlier this year, AMD unveiled its all-new Ryzen series of processors, its most competitive range in half a decade. Ryzen's price to performance ratio is far higher than the Intel Core series. Whereas Intel's cheapest eight-core chip retails at over $1,000, AMD offers a flagship model for $499. A few weeks ago, AMD went a step further, announcing it will start selling a 16-core, 32-thread chip later this year.
AMD's long-anticipated return to competition has now forced Intel into action. At the Computex computer show in Taiwan today, Intel made official what rumours have been suggesting for weeks. It is responding to Ryzen by adding a new series to the Core family. Branded as "Core i9" and part of the wider Core X enthusiast offering, the options range from 4 cores and 4 threads right up to 18 cores and 36 threads.
Intel s new Core i9 processors
Intel's new Core i9 processors
Intriguingly, this span doesn't align with the initial Core i9 rumours from a couple of months ago. PC Gamer reports that the slides Intel distributed to media at Computex ahead of the event only mentioned 12-core parts. Intel's executives launched the Core i9 onstage without accompanying background material, releasing the official images later on.
Intel claimed it has kept the 18-core models close to home to prevent details leaking out. Many have speculated that they're actually a late addition though. The company may have decided to launch them earlier than intended after AMD revealed the 16-core "Threadripper." Aware that AMD was about to steal headlines once again, it's possible Intel has been forced to take defensive action for the first time in years.
Even today, Intel hasn't publicly detailed the specifications for the highest end parts. Clock speeds, memory support and power consumption figures for the most important Core i9 components remain conspicuously lacking. Intel has revealed pricing details though, confirming that an 18-core desktop chip will set you back $1,999. 16-core, 14-core, 12-core and 10-core options will retail at $1,699, $1,399, $1,199 and $999 respectively.
At the lower end of the range, Intel is also offering new more conventional processors for gamers and less demanding enthusiasts. Its new flagship Core i7 chip, the i7-7740X, offers 4 cores and 8 threads for $339. It has a base clock speed of 4.3GHz and can turbo up to 4.5GHz.
There are also 6-core and 8-core i7 variants priced under $600 and a $242 Core i5. With four cores, four threads and a 4.0GHz base clock, this chip is likely to become the processor of choice for new gaming builds later this year.
Intel new Core X processors
Intel new Core X processors
Intel said it has decided to launch an 18-core desktop processor because its 10-core i7-6950X was received "really well" by enthusiasts. The company's repeated claims that it's not merely trying to one-up AMD haven't held water with analysts though. While it's not willing to directly admit it, it seems as though the classic rivalry between AMD and Intel is returning in full force.
"The Intel® Core™ X-series processor family introduces a series of firsts that reflect the extreme performance we are delivering," said Intel's Gregory Bryant. "This family includes Intel’s first teraflop desktop CPUs, a prime example of just how much raw compute these processors can handle. We’re also introducing the entirely new Intel® Core™ i9 processor, representing the highest performance for advanced gaming, VR and content creation."
With the core count on desktop processors finally being forced up, the renewed competition will lead to more powerful computers at lower prices. The new Core i9 range will be available later this year. They'll be joined in the second half of 2017 by Intel's upcoming "Coffee Lake" series of Core i3, i5 and i7 processors, promising up to 30% higher performance than the outgoing Kaby Lake series.
More about Intel, core i9, Processors, Computers, ryzen
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