Intel drops PCIe 4.0 support for upcoming Comet Lake desktop CPUs, postpones launch to April
Remember when Intel said PCIe 4.0 is not worth adopting because it is doomed to be a short-lived standard and the performance improvements it brings do not really matter since current software barely takes advantage of the PCIe 3.0 standard? But then, in late 2019 it also announced that the Comet Lake CPUs coming this year would support PCIe 4.0, mostly because of the pressure exerted by AMD, which was first to bring PCIe 4.0 to consumers in mid-2019. Intel was hoping to finally catch up with AMD this quarter, yet it looks like the chip giant is encountering even more problems on top of those causing CPU shortages. Sources close to Tom’s Hardware now inform that Intel was forced to drop PCIe 4.0 support for the new Socket 1200 chipsets specifically designed for Comet Lake, and the gen 10 desktop CPU launch was pushed to April.
To add insult to injury, most motherboard manufacturers that are preparing to launch Socket 1200 models already added the necessary circuitry in order to support the PCIe 4.0 standard, and users who want to upgrade to gen 10 CPUs will have to pay for the integrated hardware even though it will effectively be deactivated with the upcoming Comet Lake CPUs. According to anonymous sources, Intel could not yet adapt its previous circuitry to the PCIe 4.0 standard that requires tighter signal integrity, so the new chipsets are still prone to too much signal jitter. This could have been solved with additional external clock generators, but Intel did not want to raise the production costs. All these problems together with some other unspecified ones led Intel to postpone the official Comet Lake launch by almost four months.
There might be a silver lining to this debacle, though. The upcoming Rocket Lake CPUs launching in 2021 are said to be compatible with the new Socket 1200 motherboards, so Intel could add PCIe 4.0 support with those processors, making the purchase of said mobos not entirely terrible when they become available this April.