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Intel to Cut Prices of its Desktop Processors by 15% in Response to Ryzen 3000

Intel is embattled in the client-segment desktop processor business, with AMD's imminent launch of its 3rd generation Ryzen desktop processors. Intel's 9th generation Core processors may lose their competitiveness to AMD's offerings, and are expected to get relieved by the company's "Ice Lake" desktop processors only in 2020. Until then, Intel will market its processors through price-cuts, promotions, bundles, and focusing on their gaming prowess. The company will refresh its HEDT (high-end desktop) processor lineup some time in Q3-2019. According to Taiwan-based industry observer DigiTimes citing sources in the motherboard industry, Intel's immediate response to 3rd generation Ryzen will be a series of price-cuts to products in its client-segment DIY retail channel.

According to these sources, prices of 9th generation Core processors could be cut by a minimum of 10 percent, and a maximum of 15 percent, varying by SKUs. This could see prices of popular gaming/enthusiast SKUs such as the Core i9-9900K, the i7-9700K, and the i5-9600K, drop by anywhere between $25 to $75. AMD is launching the Ryzen 9 3900X to compete with the i9-9900K, the Ryzen 7 3800X to compete with the i7-9700K, and the Ryzen 5 3600X to take on the i5-9600K. The three SKUs, according to AMD's internal testing, match the Intel chips at gaming, and beat them at content-creation tasks. At the heart of 3rd generation Ryzen processors is AMD's new Zen 2 microarchitecture, which brings significant IPC gains. AMD is also increasing core-counts on its mainstream desktop platform with the introduction of the Ryzen 9 family of 12-core and 16-core processors in the AM4 package.

Intel CPU Shortages Could be Over, Hints Microsoft

Microsoft CFO Amy Hood in a quarterly financial results conference call with investors this Wednesday hinted that the worst could be over with Intel CPU shortages. "In Windows, the overall PC market was stronger than we anticipated, driven by improved chip supply that met both unfulfilled Q2 commercial and premium consumer demand as well as better-than-expected Q3 commercial demand." It's important to note that Hood did not name Intel, as PCWorld otherwise observed, but it's highly likely that she was referring to Intel, given that it continues to dominate pre-built notebook and desktop markets.

PCWorld uses Hood's statement from the previous quarter's results call to zero in on Intel. "The overall PC market was smaller than we expected primarily due to the timing of chip supply to our OEM partners, which constrained an otherwise healthy PC ecosystem and negatively impacted both OEM Pro and non-Pro revenue growth," she had said. Prices of 9th generation Core desktop processors in the retail channel appear to be normalizing, with the Core i5-9400 selling for $184 on Newegg, which is close to MSRP, its iGPU-devoid twin, the i5-9400F selling at a discounted price of $169; the overclocker-friendly i5-9600K selling for $264, and the i7-9700K at $409, which is a tiny $20 markup over MSRP.

AMD Outsells Intel 2:1 on European Retailer Mindfactory.de

European PC enthusiasts continue to see value in choosing AMD Ryzen processors over Intel Core, as the latest public data by German retailer Mindfactory.de, which ships across the EU, shows AMD processors outselling Intel 2:1. Although earlier Intel would have the upperhand in revenue despite lower volumes, this time around, AMD shored up revenues on the backs of high-margin products such as the Ryzen 7 2700X and the HEDT Ryzen Threadripper series.

The 6-core/12-thread Ryzen 5 2600 is the most popular processor offering high value under the 200€-mark. It is followed by the 8-core/16-thread Ryzen 7 2700X. Buyers prefer the 2700X to the cheaper 2700 non-X. The Ryzen 5 2600X is another strong seller. Over in the Intel camp, the Core i9-9900K and Core i7-9700K are strong sellers, followed by the i5-9600K and the newly released i5-9400F. Pricing graphs show Intel processor pricing steadily rise over 2018, while AMD chips remained largely flat. These numbers are not indicative of the overall market, since Mindfactory caters to DIY PC gamers and enthusiasts only.

Intel Readies "KF" Variants of Key 9th Gen Core Desktop SKUs

Intel is readying a curious-looking "KF" brand extension for key SKUs of its 9th generation Core "Coffee Lake Refresh" family. These SKUs include the Core i9-9900KF, the Core i7-9700KF, Core i5-9600KF, and the Core i3-9350KF. The source revealing slides from a GIGABYTE internal presentation mentioning these doesn't explain what "KF" means, but we've heard rumors on what "KF" could mean. The "K" in KF denotes that the processor features an unlocked base-clock multiplier. No points for guessing that one. The "F," however, could indicate a disabled or physically absent iGPU.

This won't be the first time that Intel has launched variants of its mainstream desktop premium SKUs with disabled iGPUs. Intel's reasons for doing so with "Coffee Lake Refresh" could be many, including harvesting dies with defective iGPU components. Physically absent iGPUs could only make sense from the perspective of increasing yields per wafer, as the dies could be around 15% smaller for the 8-core silicon, and 25% smaller for the 6-core silicon. It doesn't make sense from a purely TDP-optimization perspective, because Intel processors are capable of power-gating (and not just clock-gating) user-disabled iGPUs.

Retail Prices of Key Intel Core i5 and 8th Gen Core i7 Processor SKUs Sober Up

Prices of retail versions of several 8th and 9th generation Intel Core processor SKUs dropped down to MSRP-levels Friday, in the US. Newegg currently lists the Core i5-9600K at USD $249.99, and the Core i7-8700K at $369.99, while the i7-8700 goes for $319.99, matched with AMD's Ryzen 7 2700X. The Core i5-8600K is listed at $239.99, which is just $20 above the consumer-favorite i5-8400. Newegg's pricing is still riddled with mark-up anomalies for SKUs in high demand. The Core i7-9700K is listed at $487.99, which is about $10 cheaper than Intel's MSRP for the Core i9-9900K, which is selling for an obnoxious $850.

Intel Ropes in Vietnam and Ireland to Increase Processor Volumes

Intel late last week released a PCN (product change notification), which stated that it has assigned its manufacturing facilities in Vietnam as an "additional site for test and finish." This would entail final quality assurance testing of its nearly-ready products and "finishing," which involves final retail packaging. The Intel facility in Vietnam will work in concert with its largest Asian manufacturing facility, located in Malaysia. "While Assembly, Test and Finish will continue to be done in PGAT (Malaysia), Intel will also have assembled material sent to VNAT (Vietnam) to perform the Test/Finish portions of the manufacturing process. Please note that Vietnam has been certified equivalent (form, fit, function, and reliability) for the affected products and technologies of this change," the PCN reads.

The products named in the PCN are the company's new flagship MSDT processor, the 8-core/16-thread Core i9-9900K, the second-best 8-core/8-thread Core i7-9700K, and the 6-core/-6-thread Core i5-9600K. "Fab, Sort and Assembly Test Manufacturing follow a philosophy, enables delivery of product from multiple production sites, which operate as a virtual factory that performs consistently and independent of the manufacturing source site. Additional benefits include faster production ramps that improve product availability and improved consistency to quality performance," it concludes. Intel had, earlier this year, raised its capital expenditure by an additional $1 billion YoY to around $16 billion, in a bid to increase its volumes as the industry faces supply shortages from Intel, which the company claims is due to "increased demand," rather than a short-supply. Intel has also roped in its small foundry located in Leixlip, Ireland.

Benchmarks for Intel Core i5-9600K Leak, Can Be Overclocked to 5.2 GHz On Air

The first official data we have received about the performance of the new Intel processors are not exactly spectacular. The Core i9-9900K has aroused considerable controversy due to the unfair Principled Technologies test bench. The results have been reviewed and confirm that the performance gain is debatable, but independent analyses have yet to appear for Core i9-9900K, Core i7-9700K and Core i5-9600K processors.

Today we have some info about one of them: a new video in China shows a Core i5-9600K being benchmarked with a MSI Z390 MEG Godlike motherboard with 16GB of DDR4 memory and a Silver Arrow Extreme cooler from Thermalright. We don't have game benchmarks, but at least we have some Cinebench results both with the processor working with its 3.7 GHz base clock and overcloked to 5.2 GHz. That process was done without problems despite using an air cooler.

Intel Fixes Spectre & Meltdown on New Desktop Processors, Core-X Will Have to Wait

The new 9th generation Intel Core processors arrived yesterday with a series of improvements made to entice gamers and content creators. These improvements, however, join others that go beyond pure performance. Intel has introduced several architectural changes to fix the infamous Spectre & Meltdown vulnerabilities, and the new processors mitigate most of the variants of these attacks through a combination of hardware, firmware and OS fixes.

The big changes come to two of the six variants of those vulnerabilities. In both "Rogue Data Cache Load" (Meltdown, variant 3) and "L1 Terminal Fault" (Meltdown, Variant 5) vulnerabilities these new processors have hardware fixes that are new and not present on the rest of the current portfolio of Intel chips. This includes the new Xeon W-3175X (Core-X Skylake-X Refresh), which still depend on firmware fixes to mitigate those problems.

Intel Officially Launches 9th Generation Processors Including the 8-Core / 16-Thread Core i9-9900K

Anand Srivatsa, Vice President of Intel, officially announced their all-new 9th generation of core processors in today's live stream. While the Coffee Lake refresh has certainly been no secret, a few facts were confirmed today. The Core i9-9900k will be Intel's first broad volume 5 GHz processor and is their first mainstream 8 core, 16 thread offering. In order to facilitate better overclocking results for enthusiasts, the company also confirmed that they will use solder TIM for the whole range of products, which should result in not only better overclocking potential but much lower thermals as well.

Silicon Lottery Posts its Pricing of the Core i9-9900K and i7-9700K

Silicon Lottery is an online retailer that sells computer hardware its employees personally bin to pick out the best performing parts, at higher-than-MSRP prices. It listed its pricing for the upcoming Intel Core i9-9900K 8-core/16-thread processor, and the Core i7-9700K 8-core/8-thread part. The site currently reports both parts as "sold out" either because they've actually sold out all their pre-order inventory, or because they have't built inventories yet. Regardless, the i9-9900K is listed at USD $479.99, and the i7-9700K at $369.99.

We've been actively tracking down possible list prices of Intel's 9th generation Core processors. Our most recent article on the topic predicts the i9-9900K to be priced around $450, the i7-9700K at $350, and the i5-9600K at $250. Either Silicon Lottery's listings don't include any premiums, or Intel could surprise us with prices lower than our predictions.

Intel Core i5-9600K Surfaces on GeekBench Database

With the swanky Core i9-9900K and Core i7-9700K eight-core chips getting all the attention, the less glamorous Core i5-9600K is taking shape, which could bring a little more performance to the $250 price-point. This 6-core/6-thread chip succeeds the current-gen i5-8600K, and has the same 9 MB of L3 cache. With not much in the way of micro-architectural IPC improvements, barring silicon-level hardening against certain vulnerabilities, which could improve speculative execution performance (versus processors with software patches that inflict performance penalties); Intel has dialed up clock speeds. The chip is clocked at 3.70 GHz, with a maximum Turbo Boost frequency of 4.60 GHz, compared to the 3.60 GHz nominal and 4.30 GHz Turbo Boost frequencies of its predecessor.

The higher clocks seem to bring the i5-9600K a touch higher than the i5-8600K in terms of GeekBench scores, although still nowhere close to the i7-8700 (non-K). The i5-8600K, if you'll recall, beat some of its pricier previous-generation siblings such as the i7-7700, in multi-threaded tests. Someone with access to an i5-9600K put it through GeekBench 4. The chip scores 6,015 points in the single-core test or about 3.7 percent faster than its predecessor (the i5-8600K typically scores 5,800 points), coming from the 300 MHz higher single-core boost. The multi-core score is 23,393 points, which is a meager 2 percent faster (the i5-8600K typically scores around 23,000 points). The generational jump in performance for the mid-range hence seems to have stagnated. At best the i5-9600K will repair the uncertain price/performance equation the i5-8600K has against the AMD Ryzen 5 2600X.

Intel 14nm Processors Face Shortages

Intel's 8th generation Core desktop processors based on the company's 14 nm node are facing shortages in the market, according to a Tom's Hardware report. Tracking prices and availability of popular 8th generation Core SKUs such as the i5-8400, i5-8600K, and i7-8700K, the report notes that retailers are heavily marking up these SKUs above their SEP, and many of whom are running out of stock often. This may not be attributed to heavy demand.

A possible explanation for these shortages could be Intel allocating volumes from the same 14 nm++ node for its upcoming 9th generation Core processors, which debut with three SKUs - i5-9600K, i7-9700K, and i9-9900K. Intel probably wants to launch the three chips not just at competitive prices, but also good enough volumes to win the 2018 Holiday season, and repair its competitiveness damaged by AMD 2nd generation Ryzen over the past couple of quarters.

Intel Confirms Soldered IHS for 9th Gen Core Series

Soldered integrated heatspreader has been a longstanding demand of PC enthusiasts for Intel's premium "K" mainstream-desktop processors. With AMD implementing it across all its "Summit Ridge" and "Pinnacle Ridge" Ryzen AM4 processors, just enough pressure for built on Intel. The company, in a leaked slide, confirmed the feature-set of its upcoming 9th generation "K" Core processors, which highlights "STIM" (soldered thermal interface material) for this chip. It shows that STIM could be exclusive to the "K" series SKUs, namely the i9-9900K, i7-9700K, and i5-9600K.

The slides also list out the clock speeds and cache sizes of the three first 9th generation desktop SKUs, confirming that the Core i7-9700K will indeed be the first Core i7 desktop SKU ever to lack HyperThreading. The TDP of the 8-core chips don't seem to breach the 95W TDP barrier Intel seems to have set for its MSDT processors. The slides also seem to confirm that the upcoming Z390 Express chipset doesn't bring any new features, besides having stronger CPU VRM specifications than the Z370. Intel seems to recommend the Z390 to make the most out of its 8-core chips.

Intel to Paper-launch 9th Gen Core on August 14, Availability in Q4-2018

Intel's client desktop processor lineup is under tremendous pressure owing to competition from AMD, with the company having to roll out entire processor generations over mere 2-3 quarters. You'll recount that Intel was merrily trotting around with its barely-innovative 7th Gen "Kaby Lake" family in early 2017, when AMD stunned the industry with an outperforming product lineup. The 7th generation barely lasted its planned product cycle, before Intel rushed in a pathetic sub-$500 Core X lineup, and the 8th generation "Coffee Lake" with 50-100% core-count increases. Even that is proving insufficient in the wake of 2nd generation AMD Ryzen "Pinnacle Ridge," and Intel is cutting short its product cycle with the 9th generation Core "Whiskey Lake" (or "Coffee Lake" Refresh) series, that further increase core-counts.

"Whiskey Lake" was originally planned for Q1-2019 alongside the 14 nm original Z390 chipset. Intel wasn't expecting AMD to rebound with Ryzen 2000 series (particularly the tangible IPC increases and improved multi-core boosting). And so, it decided to rush through with a new product generation yet again. The Z370 is being re-branded to Z390 (with an improved CPU VRM reference design), and what was originally meant to come out in Q1-2019, could come out by Q4-2018, at the very earliest by October. Intel reportedly planned availability sooner, but realized that distributors have heaps of unsold 8th generation Core inventory, and motherboard vendors aren't fully ready for the chip. Since getting a 9th gen Core chip doesn't warrant a new motherboard, customers would be inclined to pick up 9th generation chip with their existing boards, or any new 300-series board. This would kill the prospects of selling 8th generation Core CPUs.

Top Three Intel 9th Generation Core Parts Detailed

Intel is giving finishing touches to its 9th generation Core processor family, which will see the introduction of an 8-core part to the company's LGA115x mainstream desktop (MSDT) platform. The company is also making certain branding changes. The Core i9 brand, which is being introduced to MSDT, symbolizes 8-core/16-thread processors. The Core i7 brand is relegated to 8-core/8-thread (more cores but fewer threads than the current Core i7 parts). The Core i5 brand is unchanged at 6-core/6-thread. The three will be based on the new 14 nm+++ "Whiskey Lake" silicon, which is yet another "Skylake" refinement, and hence one can't expect per-core IPC improvements.

Leading the pack is the Core i9-9900K. This chip is endowed with 8 cores, and HyperThreading enabling 16 threads. It features the full 16 MB of shared L3 cache available on the silicon. It also has some stellar clock speeds - 3.60 GHz nominal, with 5.00 GHz maximum Turbo Boost. You get the 5.00 GHz across 1 to 2 cores, 4.80 GHz across 4 cores, 4.70 GHz across 6 to 8 cores. Interestingly, the TDP of this chip remains unchanged from its predecessor, at 95 W. Next up, is the Core i7-9700K. This chip apparently succeeds the i7-8700K. It has 8 cores, but lacks HyperThreading.
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