Looks like Intel is finally addressing AMD’s Ryzen mainstream desktop processor threat with eight-core processors of its own later this year. The upcoming “Coffee Lake-S” chips will be based on 14nm process technology, and part of Intel’s eighth-generation design refresh slated for the second half of 2018. The chips are now starting to appear in benchmarks although the speeds are merely preliminary, given they won’t be finalized until the summer at the earliest.
If the roadmap seems a little confusing, you’re not alone. The first batch of eighth-generation processors launched in 2017 targeted laptops with a modified seventh-generation architecture. Intel saved its true eighth-generation “Coffee Lake” design for its most recent desktop processors, such as the Core i7-8700K catered to gamers. These latter chips rely on Intel’s 300 Series motherboard chipsets.
The upcoming mainstream desktop processors will be based on a refined eighth-generation architecture to support eight cores. They will also have native support for USB 3.1 Gen2 (10Gbps), Intel Wireless AC connectivity, SDXC 3.0 card compatibility, and Thunderbolt 3 “Titan Ridge” connectivity. Other ingredients include support for DDR4 memory at 2,666MHz, an integrated programmable quad-core audio DSP, and the SoundWire Digital Audio Interface.
But what about “Cannon Lake?” Intel said it began shipping those chips to device manufacturers at the end of 2017. Consider these processors as smaller versions of Intel’s refined seventh-generation “Kaby Lake” chips using its new 10nm process technology. They’re meant to bring high performance to thin and light form factors. Meanwhile, Intel’s ninth-generation processor rollout will start with its 10nm+ “Ice Lake” chips at the end of 2018. The following family using the 10nm++ process will be its “Tiger Lake” chips for 2019.
In addition to the processor listings, the benchmarks also show that new motherboards are on the way based on Intel’s unannounced Z390 chipset. The listing describes the motherboard as “Intel Corporation CoffeeLake S82 UDIMM RVP,” indicating it’s an engineering sample leaked straight from Intel. Motherboards based on Intel’s B360 (business), H370 (mainstream) and H310 (value) chipsets are supposedly on the way too. The Z390 chipset will join the current Z370 for enthusiasts.
When Intel introduced its eight-generation “Coffee Lake-S” processors in the fall, the company boasted about how it brought six-core processors to the mainstream market. Meanwhile, AMD’s three Ryzen 7 processors already packed eight cores for the mainstream market with a starting price of $330 (now $280). Meanwhile, the six-core Intel Core i7-8700K landed on store shelves for $380.
Intel could introduce its next wave of eighth-generation desktop processors during the Computex technology convention in Taipei in June, or possibly the E3 gaming show that same month. Until then, we expect to see additional leaks to give us a better glimpse into Intel’s next CPU rollout.