Intel could be readying a surprise power-hungry 22-core CPU with 5GHz boost

(Image credit: Future)

Intel is preparing to launch a fresh 22-core high-end desktop (HEDT) processor as part of the Cascade Lake-X range, according to a new rumor.

The alleged Intel Core i9-10990XE has appeared in a screenshot of CPU-Z (a PC profiling and monitoring utility) over at the Chiphell forums, a common source of hardware leaks, although not always the most reliable.

Still, assuming the image isn’t somehow faked, the 22-core (44-thread) CPU runs with a base clock of 4GHz and all-core boost to 5GHz, with a TDP (essentially power consumption) that reaches 380W. It’s likely leveraging Intel’s XCC (Extreme Core Count) design.

The chip would clearly outdo the current top dog Cascade Lake-X offering, which is the Core i9-10980XE that sports 18-cores and Turbo to 3.8GHz across all those cores.

It would seem to be a follow-up to the i9-9990XE, a 14-core chip which also boosted to 5GHz across all-cores, and was very pricey – indeed, it was initially only sold at auction.

Power crazy

The power consumption of 380W put forward here is an eyebrow-raising figure, and we have to bear in mind that this is the baseline consumption when the chip is running at its base clock speed. When going flat out at all-core Turbo, it will be way higher – when Anandtech reviewed the 9990XE, for example, it pulled 600W, versus a rated TDP of 255W.

So that means if these details are on the money, the 10980XE could pull double or more than 380W at full pelt, so that could be starting to approach the 1,000W mark. So you will need a seriously chunky PSU and a high-end cooling solution, naturally.

At any rate, this obviously isn’t a processor for the average user, as a flagship HEDT part which may well only be sold at auction like its predecessor.

As Tom’s Hardware, which spotted all this, points out, there’s also a purported grab of the 10990XE benchmarked under Cinebench R20, giving a result of 14,005 points. This would put it at around the same performance as the Threadripper 3960X (a 24-core CPU), and of course AMD has the 3970X above that, not to mention the Threadripper 3990X arriving with 64-cores on February 7.

Although that said, we’d be foolish to put too much stock in a single benchmark, and a leaked unverified one at that.

Assuming the 10990XE does indeed exist, it’ll be interesting to see where Intel pitches the price in comparison to the 3rd-gen Threadripper chips, but it obviously won’t be cheap, and the CPU could well cost several grand (and as mentioned, may only be available at auction, or in very limited quantities).

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).