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Intel looks to upstage AMD at Computex with unveiling of 18-core Skylake-X Core i9 offering one teraflop of compute power

Intel has used the Computex trade show to try and upstage rival AMD with the unveiling of its leaked Core X-Series processors, as well as a compute card, a virtual reality collaboration and an always connected PC demo.

The launch comes ahead of a ‘big reveal’ from AMD on Wednesday, which will include details of new Ryzen microprocessors and Vega-based graphics cards. 

Gregory Bryant, corporate vice president and general manager of the Client Computing Group at Intel Corporation, provided more details ahead of his keynote at Computex in Taipei. 

Details of the Core-X processor range had been artfully leaked beforehand, first two weeks ago when some details of the new processors appeared on a blurry slide. But they held back on the juiciest details until yesterday when enthusiasts got hold of further details – including a top-of-the-range 18-core 36 thread $1,999 monster, the Core i9-7980XE, which Intel says is the first teraflop desktop CPU. 

That’s also two more cores the AMD’s recently announced “Threadripper”.

Initial rumours about the branding of the top-level CPUs – Core i9 rather than Core i7 – proved to be correct. Rival AMD named it’s top end processors Ryzen 7 in a deliberate attempt to compete with Intel’s current Core i7 range, at what it says is a much lower price. 

While full specifications are not yet available, hardware site videocardz.com has compiled a feature list which seems to be pretty accurate from what we can tell, the details of which are summarised below.

The new processors are aimed firmly at what Gregory terms the “enthusiast community”, which includes gamers and also content creators who “can have fast image rendering, video encoding, audio production and real-time preview – all running in parallel seamlessly so they spend less time waiting and more time creating.”

Indeed, Bryant spends quite a bit of his post bigging up the ailing PC market.

He also mentioned the new x299 chipset with additional I/O and overclocking capabilities, and an upgrade to the firm’s 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”.

And Bryant promised to share more news on the 8th generation Intel Core Processor “in the future”.

All well and good, but what of the prices? The cheapest Core X, the Core i5-7640X, is $242, while the Core i7 X-Series range from a $339 (4-core / 8-thread) to $599 for the 10-core 20-thread model. The Core-i9 range starts at $999 and goes all the way up to $1,999 for the Core i9-7980XE. 

Other new products include the Intel Compute Card “a modular computing platform with all the elements of a full computer — all in a package that is slightly longer than a credit card”, and a prototype of an always connected PC, with long battery life and full Windows functionality.

On the VR front Bryant wrote of a collaboration with smartphone vendor HTC.

“We will be working together to leverage Intel’s Wi-Gig technology to create a VR accessory that allows Vive customers to get high-fidelity, low-latency, immersive VR experiences without the wire,” he said. 

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