Leaked slides seem to indicate that Intel is getting ready to launch its 10th Gen ‘Comet Lake’ desktop CPUs, and that the highest-end model will have up 10 cores. The purported information shows that Intel’s next generation for the desktop will be yet another refresh of the 14nm Skylake architecture, as the company has not yet ramped up 10nm production to support multiple market segments. Eleven new models are detailed, though all information should be taken with a pinch of salt as it is not officially verified. The new processors could be launched as soon as CES 2020, which begins in the second week of January.
Of the 11 CPUs, three are listed as 125W parts while the rest have 65W TDPs. All models feature Hyper-Threading, which is a departure from Intel’s previous strategy. There is also mention of a new feature called “Intel Thermal Velocity Boost” for the highest-end models which appears to be similar to AMD’s XFR feature, allowing either one or all cores to run at higher speeds for as long as thermal and power conditions allow.
There are two purported Core i9 parts, both with 10 cores and 20 threads, as well as two Core i7 models with 8 cores and 16 threads. Four Core i5 models follow, each with 6 cores and 12 threads, with three quad-core, 8-thread Core i3 models rounding out the list.
According to the allegedly leaked slides obtained by Informática Cero and Videocardz.com, the top-end 125W 10-core Core i9-10900K will have a 3.7GHz base clock and 5.1GHz turbo boost speed, but that can potentially go up to 5.3GHz thanks to the new Thermal Velocity Boost feature. There is also a non-K Core i9-10900 SKU with the same feature but a 65W TDP and a 2.8GHz base clock. The Core i9 as well as Core i7 models also support Intel’s Turbo Boost Max 3.0 feature, previously seen on the high-end Core X-series models.
All models seem to feature integrated Intel UHD Graphics 630, which means there is no major change on that front and we will have to wait for a full architecture refresh to get Intel’s next-gen IGPs on the desktop. F-series models without integrated graphics are not on the leaked slides, but could be released later. All models support dual-channel DDR4 RAM and 40 lanes of PCIe for platform connectivity.
Interestingly, a separate leak seems to suggest that Intel will split the Comet Lake desktop into two lines with two different sockets. A new Socket-1200 is said to serve the high-end 125W parts and will be paired with the purported Z490, H470, Q470 and W480 chipsets, while a less expensive Socket-1159 interface would be used for lower-end CPUs in the stack, with the entry-level B460 and H410 chipsets. While all of this is unconfirmed, it is still possible that all CPUs will still fit into and work with Socket-1200 motherboards.
Having two sockets will introduce a new level of confusion to the market and will undoubtedly upset some buyers by restricting upgrade options for high-end CPUs on affordable motherboards, though the target markets for both are not likely to overlap. If marketed as a way to save money with the low-end platforms, this could work out in favour of entry-level home and office PC buyers. Notably, there is no mention yet of Comet Lake-based Celeron and Pentium models, which would match well with the lower-end chipsets. It is also not yet known how all the chipsets will be differentiated, though the segmentation is in line with previous generations.
Tom’s Hardware speculates that Intel will position at least its new Core i9 CPUs as entry-level “value HEDT” workstations, likely when paired with a W-series chipset-based motherboard. The existence of both sockets was posted by Twitter user momomo_us a few days apart. They are both expected to be compatible with the same coolers as the current LGA1151 socket which should be good news for upgraders and manufacturers.
It remains to be seen how Intel will solve its 14nm supply issues, which have resulted in stock shortages, price spikes, and OEM product delays over the past year. Intel needs to compete with AMD’s Ryzen lineup which is also due to be refreshed with a new base architecture in 2020.