Rumor | Intel 'Kaby Lake-X' HEDT chips to be EOL'd in late 2018 in favor of 'Skylake-X' Refresh and 'Cascade Lake'
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Intel could be retiring its 'Kaby Lake-X' (KL-X) platform in late 2018 if a rumor by Kyle Bennett of HardOCP is anything to go by. Bennett talks of rumors that 'Kaby Lake-X' might not see a refresh at all while 'Skylake-X' will likely be refreshed sometime in late Q3 2018 or early Q4 2018. Intel's successor to the 'Skylake-X' chips will be 'Cascade Lake-X', which will be an Optimization upgrade over 'Skylake-X'.
There could be many reasons why Intel is looking to discontinue 'Kaby Lake-X' CPUs. For one, these chips never seemed as if they belonged to the High End Desktop (HEDT) computing platform as they featured the same 4C/8T configuration like their consumer 'Kaby Lake' counterparts and only supported one GPU at full PCIe speed. Memory support was also capped at 'just' 64 GB. Still, Intel continued to push 'Kaby Lake-X' as an HEDT option by equipping these chips with the highest single-threaded performance of any x86 processor till date. However, it seems that the strategy received a lukewarm response at best and AMD, with its Threadripper lineup, has proven to offer more cores and better performance than 'Skylake-X' and is almost 60% less dearer.
The rumored 'Skylake-X' Refresh will continue to feature the same microarchitecture as the existing 'Skylake-X' chips but the core count will range from 6 to 18 cores. The current top-end 'Skylake-X' Core i9-7980XE is an 18C/36T part with a 165W TDP. Another interesting tidbit is that the 'Skylake-X' Refresh will switch over to the Solder Thermal Interface Material (STIM) for the Integrated Heat Spreader (IHS) from the current Polymer Thermal Interface Material (PTIM). Intel has observed STIM parts reaching anywhere between 150-200 MHz boosts in both base and turbo clocks. The aim, apparently, is to push for 5 GHz on the 12 core and 14 core SKUs with TDP estimated to be in the 275-300W range. The increased TDP will require new VRM layouts, which means new motherboards will likely be introduced for this refresh. SuperMicro's SuperO C9X299-PG300 motherboard, which was first shown off at CES 2018, supports up to 300W TDP and more OEMs can be expected to follow suit.
Bennett also reports that 'Cascade Lake', which will succeed the new 'Skylake-X' refresh, will likely be pushed to late Q2 2019 and will not make a 2018 debut as expected. While not much is known about 'Cascade Lake' at this moment, it will likely feature similar core counts and TDP as the 'Skylake-X' generation and is more of an optimization iteration than an architectural change.
Kyle Bennett has a great track record for insider information as recently evidenced by his report on HP and Dell opting out of NVIDIA's GeForce Partner Program. Nevertheless, these are unconfirmed rumors so do take them with a pinch of the proverbial salt.