Intel announces monster 18-core Skylake X Core i9 CPU

At one of the most exciting – but least surprising, thanks to a series of leaks and rumors – announcements at Computex 2017, Intel unveiled its powerful new line of Core X-Series processors, including the beastly 18-core Core i9 CPU.

The Intel Core i9 is the world's first ever consumer desktop CPU with 18 cores and 36 threads – out gunning even AMD's upcoming Ryzen 9 Threadripper CPU, which is due to come out with 16-cores. It is also the first ever teraflop desktop CPU, according to Intel.

So, it looks like Intel and AMD are engaging in a full-on CPU arms race again – which is exciting news for us consumers.

Its full name is the Intel Core i9-7900X X-series processor, and this first version will be made available with 10 cores and 20 threads, with 18, 16, 14 and 12 core variants coming soon.

The 10-core i9 variant will come with a base clock speed of 3.3GHz, Inel Turbo Boost Max technology, which ups the frequency to 4.5GHz, 13.75MB of L3 cache, support for 4 channels of DDR4-2666 RAM and a TDP (thermal design power) of 140W. At launch it will cost $999 (around £780, AU$1300).

The 18-core Core i9 7980XE, along with the 16-core Core i9 7960X, 14-core Core i9 7940X and 12-core Core i9 7920X should follow soon.

All will come with up to 44 PCIe lanes and support for Intel Optane memory.

Keeping it in the X-Series family

While the new Core i9 CPUs are understandably stealing the limelight, Intel also revealed the rest of the X-Series family of processors, which Intel says is its most "scalable, accessible and powerful desktop platform ever", and covers a range of processors with 4 to 18 cores.

These eighth generation Core processors offer a 30% performance improvement over the current seventh generation CPUs, according to Gregory Bryant, corporate vice president and general manager of the Client Computing Group at Intel Corporation, who took to the stage at Computex to announce the new generation.

These CPUs will also be up to 10% faster for multi-thread performance, and up to 15% faster for single-thread performance compared to the current generation of Core processors. These new processors will make use of Intel's new X299 chipset, which comes with improved I/0 capabilities.

Gaming, and virtual reality in particular, will benefit from these new processors, according to Intel, and will also improve streaming for gamers who want to show off their gameplay.  

At the launch event Intel demoed a PC running a Core X-Series processor that was live streaming someone playing a virtual reality game to Twitch. Thanks to the power improvements of the new CPUs, the PC was able to simultaneously broadcast a number of views and angles of the gameplay live – something that would normally take a number of separate PCs to achieve.

It's all very exciting stuff, and Intel said that we should see many Core X-series processors available to buy by the holiday system this year. Maybe even in time for Black Friday, we hope.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.