Intel’s new CPU has a crazy 18 cores

After years of seeking efficiency rather than raw power in the world of laptop processors, the CPU arms race has suddenly got a bit more interesting. Last year Intel released the first 10-core consumer CPU for those with wallets that were just too damned heavy. AMD, not to be outdone, then released a 16-core Threadripper CPU, to which Intel has a big, if predictable, response: 18 cores and 36 threads; shoot the works.

The 18-core chip in question is the Intel i9-7980XE. As with Intel’s older Extreme edition CPUs it’s based on the previous-generation Skylake architecture, but it’s still plenty powerful, packing over a teraflop of power into its diminutive frame. It’s the spearhead for a new line of chips for enthusiasts known as the Core X-series, which also come in 10, 12 14 and 16-core flavours if you want to save a few quid.

But you’ll still be spending a lot. The 18-core beast at the top of the pile will retail for $1,999 (~£1,554), while the 10-core Core i9-7900X still goes for an eye-watering $999 (~£777).

As for speed, only one of the new Core i9 chips has confirmed specifications. It runs at a base frequency of 3.3GHz, which can be boosted to 4.5GHz with Turbo Boost 3.0 and has a TDP (thermal design power) of 140W.intels_crazy_new_18_core_processor

Intel hasn’t forgotten those on lower budgets with the X-Core series, with three new i7 and an i5 chip with in 4, 6 and 8-core flavours, starting at $242 (~£188).

Is all of this overkill? For 99% of people reading this, yes. But Intel is banking that 1% of remaining enthusiasts being spendthrift enough to make the range a success, and judging by how well the 10-core Broadwell E models went down last year, you wouldn’t bet against them.

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