Leaked slides point to arrival of Intel Core i9-9900K in Q1 2019, Basin Falls Refresh 'Cascade Lake X' to debut in Q4 2018
In what could be considered to be one of the biggest leaks yet about Intel's upcoming 'Coffee Lake-S Refresh' CPUs, it looks like we might not see the much talked about Core i9-9900K debut until Q1 2019. We've seen quite a few leaks about the new 9th generation desktop CPUs right from their specs to initial benchmarks and chipset support. All this while, we had sufficient reason to believe that the new processors would launch this September. Now, going by the slides leaked by XFastest, we think Intel might have had a change of heart. Either that, or the slides could be fake although, from what we know so far, they do seem to be fairly authentic and accurate.
According to the leaked slides, the Core i9-9900K and the rest of the 'Coffee Lake-S Refresh' family will debut in Q1 2019 and continue to be in production through Q2 and beyond. That means, the Core i7-8700K will continue to hold the reigns as Intel's flagship mainstream desktop processor till next year. Remember that the 9th generation Intel CPUs will still be based on the 14nm process (14nm++, if you will) while AMD will be on track to transition to 7nm Zen 2 with its EPYC Rome and Ryzen 3 CPUs by that time. In fact, AMD will be sampling EPYC Rome as early as end-2018. Intel is looking to launch 10nm 'Cannon Lake' only by holiday 2019 provided the yield issues are sorted out. Therefore, in terms of power efficiency, AMD will have one-upped Intel by this time next year.
The slides also show the X299 being the dominant HEDT platform through H1 2019. That means this chipset will support the upcoming Basin Fall Refresh 'Cascade Lake X' platform, which should be good news for those looking to upgrade from existing 'Skylake X' CPUs. The H300-series and the Z300-series chipsets will continue to be available from now through 2019. What's intriguing is that the Z390's availability is indicated from Q3 2018, which means an impending launch. Asus has already listed 19 Z390 motherboards and other OEMs are expected to follow suit. We're wondering what is the purport behind the Z390's availability now when the CPUs themselves don't show up until Q1 2019. Will the new chipset be compatible with the Core i7-8700K as well? We'll have to wait and see.
One of the slides indicates the salient features of Intel's 300-series chipsets and it shows that the Z390 as having integrated Intel Wireless AC and USB 3.1 Gen2 controllers. While this was true initially as per Intel's almost official product page, we've seen reports of the Z390 still remaining on the 22nm process, which would make accommodating these additional components on the chipset difficult unless transitioned to 14nm. It could be that the earlier report was inaccurate as it came from a Chinese source, but we should know about it soon.
Finally, we are seeing signs of the Basin Falls Refresh 'Cascade Lake X' debut sometime between Q4 2018 and Q1 2019 as expected. 'Cascade Lake X' will be a 28-core 56-thread part that can reach up to 5 GHz boost out of the box thanks to Intel opting for the solder thermal interface material (STIM) for attaching the integrated heat spreader (IHS) to the CPU die. But 'Cascade Lake X' will face some serious competition from AMD Threadripper 2990X, which sports a 32-core 64-thread configuration and is expected to be much more wallet-friendly.
The Q1 2019 launch for Intel 'Coffee Lake-S Refresh' might put off Intel loyalists but it is not hard to see that the company is timing it close to Ryzen 3's launch next year. The 7nm Zen 2 is expected to offer at least 10-15% higher IPC than Zen+ and a 100% increase in core counts (up to 16 cores) and Intel would want to throw all their speed and single-threaded prowess at AMD to remain in the spotlight. If AMD can hit above 4.3 GHz boost at 7nm, it will no doubt be riveting to pit the 7nm Ryzen 3 with the 14nm++ 'Coffee Lake-S Refresh' to see how the CPU Wars pan out.
The best is yet to come, folks!