To shock gamers, workstation users, data analysts, and PC enthusiasts, Intel may not have a high-end desktop processor (HEDT) this year. The company's presentation at the Intel Partner Connect conference in Asia included a presentation slide on which no new HEDT processor was planned for 2020.
As determined by Tom's hardware, one reason that no new Core X series chips have been launched this year may be due to the company's aging LGA2066 socket, which was introduced almost three years ago, and for four Generations of HEDT processors have been used. Intel could probably try to pull the LGA2066 socket out of circulation, and the company may want to wait until new CPUs are launched before transitioning to a new socket design.
The latest processor in the Intel Core X series comes from the Cascade Lake X family, which was introduced in the last quarter of 2019. Cascade Lake-X starts with the Intel Core i9-10900X, a 10-core processor, and goes all the way to the 18-core Intel Core i9-10980XE with a maximum turbo frequency of 4.6 GHz. Intel is currently using a 14nm architecture on its node, and the company will likely want to wait until it can launch silicon with a new architecture that can accommodate more cores with smaller nodes and perform better in space.
In particular, if Intel decides to delay the introduction of its HEDT processors until a new socket design is completed in 2021, it would mean that the company doesn't have a solution in time to take action against the upcoming high-end Ryzen 4000 desktop the rival AMD's processors are scheduled to hit the market later this year.
AMD has caused a sensation with its premium thread ripper processors in the third generation. The Threadripper 3990X has a whopping 64 cores – or more than three times what is supported by the Intel Core i9-10980XE. Threadripper processors based on a 7nm Ryzen 4000 architecture should offer AMD processors an even better performance boost.
If you don't need that much silicon power, Intel's mainstream desktop silicon will get an upgrade at launch. Recently leaked benchmarks by Twitter user @TUM_APISAK show that the 11th generation Rocket Lake-S – the successor to this year's 10th generation Comet Lake-S processors – will have at least one variant with an 8-core design, that supports 16 threads. The processor was tested on a Rocket Lake-S motherboard from Intel Corporation, and the 3DMark test showed that it had a base clock speed of 3.2 GHz that could reach up to 4.3 GHz.
RocketLake S UDIMM 6L RVP
8C / 16T
3.2 / 4.3 GHz pic.twitter.com/Hw8p1P6vaa
– APISAK (@TUM_APISAK) June 4, 2020
Previous benchmark leaks resulted in a more modest Rocket Lake S processor variant with six cores and 12 threads. However, the 11th generation silicon can also be delivered in more sophisticated configurations with a 10-core design with 20 threads. This would be similar to the Rocket Lake S family, according to HotHardware, of the currently available 10th generation Comet Lake S series.
Unlike the rival AMD, which has been completely converted to a 7 nm architecture, Intel's upcoming Rocket Lake S processors will likely continue to use the now aging 14 nm node, but with a new design from the Willow Cove Microarchitecture. This should allow the chip to see one IPC – instructions per clock – to better compete with the Ryzen 4000 AMD mainstream desktop chipsets, which are expected to hit the market this fall.
The Willow Cove microarchitecture is also used by Intel on the laptop side with 11th generation Tiger Lake processors. Although Rocket Lake-S for desktop and Tiger Lake will share the Willow Cove design, it is believed that Tiger Lake will use a 10nm node. Intel could switch future iterations of its desktop processor to the smaller node if all goes well.
Although Intel has not confirmed any Rocket Lake details, it is believed that the desktop processor will likely continue to support the LGA-1200 socket on the Z490 motherboards introduced with Comet Lake-S. Intel may switch to a new motherboard and socket design as soon as the successor to Rocket Lake-S – the 12th generation Alder Lake-S processor – is introduced.