Intel Readies Core-X Desktop Chips Aimed at Gamers, Content Creators

The chip maker is promising 20 to 30 percent performance improvement for VR content creation, 4K video editing and gaming as it looks to push back at AMD's Ryzen challenge.

Intel Core-X

Intel, which is being pressed by a resurgent Advanced Micro Devices, later this month will begin launching its powerful Core X-Series desktop processors to address such compute-intensive applications as virtual reality and gaming.

The chip maker introduced the lineup at the Computex show in May, with officials promising up to 20 percent performance improvement for virtual reality (VR) content creation over the previous generation and up to 30 percent faster 4K video editing. Games can expect up to 30 percent improved performance.

The chips, which are based on the Skylake-X architecture, offer from four to 18 cores and speeds up to 4.3GHz, and are aimed at gamers, content creators and enthusiasts. The largest—the Core i9 7980XE—has 18 cores and 36 instruction threads and a base price of $1,999.

The processors include Intel’s Turbo Boost Max 3 technology that improves the capabilities over the previous generation by identifying the two individual cores in the chips that can support the highest speeds and boosting the cores for those applications that need the higher performance.

Intel is releasing the 12-core X-Series processors starting Aug. 28, followed by the 14- to 18-core chips Sept. 25. The processors with four to 10 cores are available now.

The PC market has been contracting for several years in the wake of the popularity of such mobile devices as smartphones and tablets and users have kept ahold of their systems longer. Overall, worldwide shipments of PCs fell by 3.3 percent in the second quarter, according to IDC analysts. However, the market for high-end desktops favored by gamers and content creators, while small, is growing, and users are willing to pay for high-end performance. It’s a niche that’s been dominated by Nvidia and AMD, but one that is attracting other chip makers, in particular Intel.

Longtime rival AMD is making a play for the high-end PC market with its upcoming Ryzen Threadripper CPUs, which the company introduced just before Intel unveiled the Core-X series at Computex. The Threadripper family reportedly will include at least six chips with core counts ranging from eight to 32. The chips for high-end desktops are expected to be released starting this week.

During a conference call July 27 to announce second-quarter financial numbers, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich spoke about recent efforts by AMD to improve its standing in high-end PCs as well as the data center.

“AMD has raised up a bit with their more recent products, but you see us responding,” Krzanich said, according to a transcript on Seeking Alpha. “This is a traditional performance battle that we're very accustomed to, and we're comfortable in reacting and competing very aggressively in. And so you see us coming out with our Xeon Scalable [for servers]. You'll see us make maneuvers like we accelerate our Core i9 products, which are all the way up to 18-thread systems on the client-based products. So, I'd tell you that yes, we're seeing increased competitive pressure from a variety of places, but that actually will just drive us even harder, make us better in the end.”

Two days earlier, in a similar call with analysts and journalists, AMD CEO Lisa Su said Ryzen helped drive revenue increases for the company’s client computing business, and that all the top-tier PC makers have announced plans to roll out Ryzen-based systems this year.