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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 Cutting Retail Processor Supply for Holiday 2018

Prices of retail packages of Intel Core desktop processors could continue to rise over Q4-2018, as the company has reportedly cut their supply, in favor of tray/reel shipments to OEMs. This could mean DIY favorites such as the Core i5-8400, the i5-8600K, i5-9600K, or even Core i7 models such as the i7-8700K, i7-9700K, and the flagship i9-9900K could be severely in short supply, or heavily marked up wherever available. Intel recently devised a strategy to increase its Core processor volumes by pumping in an additional $1 billion to its usually-$15 billion capital expenditure, to fire up small-scale manufacturing facilities around the world, to augment its bigger fabs located in Malaysia and Vietnam.

Sites like Mexico, Israel, and Ireland are beneficiaries of this move, and are being expanded. Much of Intel's efforts appear to be focused on making sure notebook and pre-built PC manufacturers aren't starved of processor inventory. The DIY retail channel, which consists of boxed processors, will foot the bill for this move. A good example of understocked retail channel would be the $499 Core i9-9900K processor being sold for upwards of $900 in some online stores. AMD is in an enviable position to fill the void, comments PCGamesN. Prices of its Ryzen desktop processor PIBs are either flat, or marginally cut; and socket AM4 motherboards are generally cheaper than LGA1151 ones.

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.

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.

More Clarity on 9th Gen Core Processor Pricing Emerges

Intel is debuting its first wave of 9th generation Core desktop processors with three models later this year - the 6-core/6-thread Core i5-9600K, the 8-core/8-thread Core i7-9700K, and the 8-core/16-thread Core i9-9900K. We've been very curious about how the entry of the Core i9 extension to the mainstream-desktop LGA1151 platform would affect pricing of the Core i5 and Core i7 K-series SKUs, especially given that the i7-9700K is the first Core i7 SKU in a decade to lack HyperThreading. An updated catalog by a major Singapore-based PC components distributor adds more clarity.

Singapore-based PC component distributor BizGram, in its latest catalog, disclosed the all-inclusive retail prices of the three new processors. As Redditor Dylan522p suggests, if you do the SGD-USD conversion and subtract all taxes, you get ominous-looking SEP prices for the three. Intel could price the Core i5-9600K at USD $249.99. The Core i7-9700K could be priced at $349.99. The flagship Core i9-9900K could go for $449.99. These seem like highly plausible pre-tax launch prices for the three chips, and fit into the competitive landscape.

First Intel Core i7-9700K Review Surfaces

Spanish language tech publication El Chapuzas Informático published the first almost-complete review of Intel Core i7-9700K processor. Without Intel disclosing the pricing of this chip, the review doesn't include price/performance numbers or a conclusion that explores the competitive landscape. You still get a sumptuous serving of 14 tests, from which 9 are some of the latest AAA games.

The bottom-line is that the i7-9700K locks horns with the Ryzen 7 2700X in most multi-threaded tests except Cinebench nT; and owing to its high clock speeds, it will end up as the fastest gaming processor around the $350-400 mark. Interestingly, the i7-9700K isn't 33% faster than the i7-8700K despite 33% more cores, because HyperThreading is sorely missed. The distinction could be reserved for the Core i9-9900K, although samples of that chip are far too rare.
More graphs follow.

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 Core i7-9700K All-core Overclocked to 5.30 GHz On Air

Intel's upcoming 8-core/8-thread Core i7-9700K is in the news yet again, this time with a noteworthy overclocking feat of 5.30 GHz with all cores enabled, under air cooling. An enthusiast with access to an i7-9700K chip and an unknown motherboard posted blurrycam pictures of their setup and a CPU-Z screenshot showing 8-core/8-thread config, and 12 MB L3 cache, confirming this is an i7-9700K. The multiplier of this chip is dialed up to 53.0x, which multiplying the untouched base-clock works out to ~5.30 GHz. The core voltage made it to the screenshot - 1.215V.

The most impressive part about this feat is the cooling. A mainstream-looking tower-type cooler is used. Crossing 5.20 GHz with all cores enabled takes current-generation i7-8700K at least AIO liquid coolers. This is probably a testament to the soldered IHS the i7-9700K is equipped with, which improves heat transfer between the die and the IHS. Then again, it could also be the effect of a lack of HyperThreading. At higher overclocked speeds, disabling HTT on current-generation Core i7 processors contributes to stability.

Intel Core i7-9700K Put Through Geekbench on a Z370 Motherboard

The Core i7-9700K will be Intel's second fastest 9th generation Core LGA1151 processor. The 8-core/8-thread chip is equipped with 12 MB of shared L3 cache, and clocked at 3.60 GHz, with 4.90 GHz maximum Turbo Boost. It's no secret that these chips will be supported on just about any Intel 300-series chipset motherboard provided you have a BIOS update; although Intel prefers you use one of its upcoming Z390 chipset boards for overclocking its 8-core chips. That said, there are plenty of Z370 chipset boards with fairly strong CPU VRM setups. Someone with access to the i7-9700K paired it with an Aorus Z370 Ultra Gaming 2.0 motherboard, and put it through Geekbench.

The Core i7-9700K yielded a single-core score of 6,297 points, which is marginally higher than that of a stock Core i7-8700K (3.70 GHz to 4.70 GHz), owing to a higher boost frequency. The i7-8700K averages 6,000 ±100 points in this test. Multi-threaded performance is where the i7-9700K comes alive, scoring 30,152 points, which is about 12 percent higher than the 27,000 ±500 points the i7-8700K scores; and about 4-5% higher than the 28,000 ±1,000 points the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X manages in this test. The lack of HyperThreading seems to be more than compensated by the two extra cores the i7-9700K has over its predecessor. The i9-9900K maxes out the silicon with HyperThreading and 16 MB L3 cache, which could enable Intel to target a higher price-point.

Intel Core i9-9900K De-lidded, Soldered IHS Confirmed

With its 9th generation Core processors, Intel is re-introducing soldered IHS (integrated heatspreaders), at least in its top two premium models, the Core i9-9900K, and the Core i7-9700K. Intel refers to this feature as STIM (soldered thermal interface material). AMD implements soldered IHS across its Ryzen "Summit Ridge," "Pinnacle Ridge," and Threadripper families. XFastest took apart an i9-9900K to confirm that Intel is indeed using solder. Soldered IHS is generally preferred for better heat-transfer characteristics, compared to fluid TIMs. The use of fluid TIMs prompts some serious enthusiasts to even "de-lid" (run their processors without the IHS).

The 8-core "Whiskey Lake-S" die could be around 178 mm² in area, with the addition of two more cores, and 4.5 MB more cache (L2 + L3), over its predecessor. You'll recall that the 6-core "Coffee Lake" die measures 150 mm², a 25 mm² gain over the 4-core "Kaby Lake" die. We aren't expecting Intel to change the iGPU or uncore components. Intel is building these dies on the same 14 nm++ silicon fabrication node as "Coffee Lake," with the only architectural difference being silicon-level hardening against certain security vulnerabilities.

Intel Core i7-9700K Overclocked to 5.5 GHz on Water, Cinebenched

Intel's upcoming Core i7-9700K processor is the first Core i7 SKU to lack HyperThreading, but that isn't stopping the chip with 8 physical cores from edging past its predecessor posting strong multi-threaded performance. Chinese publication ZOL managed to overclock the chip to 5.50 GHz under liquid cooling with all its cores enabled, by simply dialing up the unlocked multiplier to 55.0X, and a rather high 1.535V core voltage.

The overclocked i7-9700K was put through Cinebench R15, where it scored 250 points in the single-threaded test, and 1827 points in the multi-threaded one, a 7.31x multiprocessing ratio. A current-generation 6-core/12-thread Core i7-8700K typically manages around 1550 points at stock speeds (at least 4.30 GHz all-core Turbo Boost frequency), in the multi-threaded test. The i7-9700K could hence be less ahead of its predecessor than hoped. It's the 8-core/16-thread Core i9-9900K, which could grab enthusiasts' attention (and monies).

Finer Details of Intel Core i7-9700K and Core i9-9900K Emerge

Taiwanese tech site BenchLife.info scored finer details of Intel's upcoming premium LGA1151 processors through screenshots of leaked documents; revealing more about the Core i7-9700K 8-core/8-thread processor, and the top-dog 8-core/16-thread Core i9-9900K. The i7-9700K has the QDF number QQPK, and the i9-9900K "QQPP." The tables below also reveal their extended product code, CPUID, and iGPU device ID. There's also a confirmation that the TDP of both parts is rated at just 95 W. The next table provides a great insight to the clock speeds of the two chips.

Both chips idle at 800 MHz, and have an identical nominal clock speed of 3.60 GHz. The two differ with their Turbo Boost states. The i7-9700K has a maximum Turbo Boost state of 4.90 GHz, which it awards to 1-core. As a reminder, this chip is the first Core i7 SKU ever to lack HyperThreading support. 2-core boost frequency for this chip is 4.80 GHz. 4-core boost is up to 4.70 GHz. 4.60 GHz is the all-core boost (cores 5 thru 8). The i9-9900K gives both 1-core and 2-core the highest boost frequency of 5.00 GHz (that's up to 4 threads). The 4-core boost state is 4.80 GHz, and all-core (cores 5 thru 8) get 4.70 GHz. Intel is keeping its boost states rather high for this round of processors, as it tries to compete with the Ryzen 7 "Pinnacle Ridge" series.

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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