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Intel Roadmap Suggests No New High-End Desktop Processors This Year

Intel Core X-Series Processor (Image credit: Intel)

Intel recently hosted its Intel Partner Connect virtual event in Asia a couple of days ago. A roadmap from a presentation titled "Gaming and Creators: How to Win Enthusiasts" revealed that Intel might not launch a HEDT (high-end desktop) processor this year.

The LGA2066 socket, which debuted in 2017, has housed four generations of Intel HEDT chips. The platform is likely breathing its last breath, which explains why Intel isn't gearing up new offerings for it. If the chipmaker is indeed drafting up a new army of Core X-series, the next-generation parts would, in all likelihood, command a new socket and land next year.

The Cascade Lake-X family currently represents Intel in the HEDT market, but the chipmaker has been stagnant in this segment. The 14nm processors span from 10 to 18 cores, which does seem underwhelming when compared to AMD's third-generation Ryzen Threadripper (Castle Peak) chips. The core-heavy parts start at 24 cores with the Ryzen Threadripper 3960X and push up to 64 cores in the Ryzen Threadripper 3990X

Intel Roadmap (Image credit: Intel)

AMD not only offers more cores at very engaging price points with the latest Ryzen Threadripper 3000-series, but the chipmaker is ahead of Intel in terms of lithography. AMD's HEDT lineup has transitioned to the 7nm node, while Intel remains mired on the 14nm node. That's not to mention that AMD has unconditionally adopted the PCIe 4.0 standard. When you consider all these factors, it's not hard to see why Intel could be reluctant to roll out another 14nm refresh. 

As the 10th Generation Comet Lake-S processors have proven, Intel's 14nm manufacturing process is reaching the end of its scalability. Although Intel continued to push the clock speeds, the chipmaker was unable to squeeze more than ten cores out of the 14nm chips within a reasonable power consumption envelope. Intel may not offer anything compelling in the HEDT space until the company is sitting firmly on the 10nm node and a new microarchitecture that's not yet another iteration of the aging Skylake.

  • MasterMadBones
    ...the chipmaker was unable to squeeze more than ten cores out of the 14nm chips within a reasonable power consumption envelope.

    The biggest problem is die size. It's impossible to make more than 10 Skylake cores on a ring bus on 14nm within the LGA1200 package. It just gets too long.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    MasterMadBones said:
    It's impossible to make more than 10 Skylake cores on a ring bus on 14nm within the LGA1200 package. It just gets too long.
    Intel can easily square up the chip's layout using either mesh or multiple ring bus topologies if it wanted to, only problem is that those don't fare particularly well in typical desktop applications due to increased and less uniform latency similar to how AMD's Zen incurs significant performance penalties when cores need to talk to each other through IF instead of intra-CCX.

    Based on delid images, Comet Lake's die is still only about half the size Intel could possibly fit on LGA1200 if it really REALLY wanted to.
    Reply
  • hannibal
    Trange news... Intel just released its highend product. It is like telling that according amd roadmap it does not release new highend products after Zen3 release...
    Reply
  • TJ Hooker
    This article is about HEDT, i.e. LGA 2066 or its successor. Nothing to do with LGA 1200 or the recent mainstream Comet Lake release.

    Intel hasn't used a ring bus on its HEDT chips for years.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    TJ Hooker said:
    This article is about HEDT, i.e. LGA 2066 or its successor. Nothing to do with LGA 1200 or the recent mainstream Comet Lake release.
    I was merely pointing out to MadBones that 14nm isn't physically limited to 10 cores, plenty of space even on LGA1200 to push 20 if Intel really wanted to, the implication of which being that even more would be technically feasible (but not necessarily sensible) on LGA2066.
    Reply
  • MasterMadBones
    InvalidError said:
    Intel can easily square up the chip's layout using either mesh or multiple ring bus topologies if it wanted to, only problem is that those don't fare particularly well in typical desktop applications due to increased and less uniform latency similar to how AMD's Zen incurs significant performance penalties when cores need to talk to each other through IF instead of intra-CCX.
    Obviously it's not completely impossible, we've seen double rings before. But as you said, it would be bad for gaming, which is pretty much Intel's last bastion so that would be a terrible idea for the desktop range.

    Beyond a weird U-shaped layout, a single ring bus will always grow in just one dimension.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    MasterMadBones said:
    Obviously it's not completely impossible, we've seen double rings before. But as you said, it would be bad for gaming, which is pretty much Intel's last bastion so that would be a terrible idea for the desktop range.

    Beyond a weird U-shaped layout, a single ring bus will always grow in just one dimension.
    HEDT CPUs always take a hit in gaming due to the non-uniform latency in HCC/XCC setups.

    Latency goes up with the number of stops on ring busses too, that's why Intel never made CPUs beyond 12 cores per ring and has gone mesh for its newer HCC/XCC chips.
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    MasterMadBones said:
    The biggest problem is die size. It's impossible to make more than 10 Skylake cores on a ring bus on 14nm within the LGA1200 package. It just gets too long.
    This is about HEDT, not the LGA1200 socket. The topend HEDT chips haven't used a ring bus for years. I have no idea what THG was trying point out from what you quoted. Intel released an 18 core HEDT CPU 2 and 1/2 years ago. It's not the core count that's killing power, it's taking a 5 year old architecture and pushing it to 5Ghz+ clock speeds that takes 14nm out of its optimal power curve. With a better architecture, they wouldn't need to push the clock speeds so high.

    You can't even buy Cascade Lake X now, no surprise Intel isn't going to release anything new this year. They've given up on HEDT as the chips they can currently produce have no real market.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    spongiemaster said:
    It's not the core count that's killing power, it's taking a 5 year old architecture and pushing it to 5Ghz+ clock speeds that takes 14nm out of its optimal power curve.
    A newer architecture will INCREASE clock-for-clock power draw due to increased complexity, not reduce it. That's why more advanced architectures require a more advanced process to keep timings, die size and power in check. Power-wise, Intel's 14nm is still doing quite well at stock boost, no real problem there.
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    InvalidError said:
    A newer architecture will INCREASE clock-for-clock power draw due to increased complexity, not reduce it. That's why more advanced architectures require a more advanced process to keep timings, die size and power in check. Power-wise, Intel's 14nm is still doing quite well at stock boost, no real problem there.
    I didn't say a new architecture running at the same clock speeds as the previous one would lower power draw.
    Reply