Remember how Intel was going to release Cannon Lake in 2016? And, then when it got pushed back to 2018? Well, according to Intel’s Q1 financial results we won’t see the long-awaited follow-up to Kaby Lake until 2019 – at least in a consumer-ready state. But, at least Intel is still on top of the processor game.
However, before we jump into all the juicy Cannon Lake rumors, we should step back, because Intel’s recent activity has been arcane, to say the least. So, in years past, Intel usually stuck to a predictable ‘Tick-Tock’ release schedule, where generations would alternate between introducing a new die process and architecture. This is why we all expected Cannon Lake to succeed Skylake in 2016.
That never happened, though. Instead, Intel pushed Cannon Lake back and released Kaby Lake – an ‘optimization’ in the new ‘process-architecture-optimization’ release model. Ok, so 10nm Cannon Lake would follow after Kaby Lake, then. Well, that’s what we thought, too!
However, Intel instead followed Kaby Lake with its 8th-generation Kaby Lake Refresh and Coffee Lake processors. Even 9th-generation CPUs aren’t Cannon Lake, but instead are new Coffee Lake Refresh processors.
If you find this to be confusing, trust us, you’re not alone – and it even explains why AMD is on track to reclaim 30% of the processor market. There’s some good news, though – we’ve at least seen a listing for the first Cannon Lake processor. Now, while it’s just a 10nm laptop chip that’ll likely never see a full release, it’s at least a sign of what’s to come.
So, if Coffee Lake Refresh isn’t the beginning of Intel’s 9th generation, what’s going on with Cannon Lake?
Even though Intel vehemently denies that Cannon Lake is canceled, there’s honestly not a lot of solid information to run on, but that doesn’t mean we can’t speculate using our CPU expertise. But, be sure to keep this article bookmarked, as we’ll update it with all the latest and greatest Cannon Lake information that comes our way.
Cut to the Chase
- What is it? Intel’s next generation, 10nm CPU lineup
- When is it out? Sometime in 2019
- What will it cost? TBD
We were supposed to get Cannon Lake twice already. The presumably 9th-generation Intel CPUs were initially supposed to follow Skylake in 2016, then Kaby Lake in 2018. But according to Intel’s Q1 2018 financial report, it’s “currently shipping low-volume 10nm product and now expects 10nm volume production to shift to 2019.” So, we’re probably not getting Cannon Lake in 2018.
There was some recent speculation that pointed to Intel just cancelling Cannon Lake, because it wasn’t financially feasible to shift to 10nm. However, Intel came out and defended itself, saying that it was ‘making good progress on 10nm’ and that ‘yields are improving’. So, we just have to see when this smaller manufacturing process makes it to market.
We already know we’ll have to wait until at least 2019 to see Cannon Lake, but when in 2019? Well, we don’t know yet, but we did get our hands on a leaked Intel roadmap that shows Coffee Lake Refresh being Intel’s main platform through Q2 2019. But, given Intel’s recent supply issues, we could see the release pushed back to the latter half of 2019 or even 2020.
Intel probably isn’t going to rock the boat too much here. We expect prices to fall in line with the current lineup of 8th-generation Coffee Lake processors. We’ve taken the liberty of listing some of the prices here.
- Intel Core i7-8700K – $350 (£290, AU$520)
- Intel Core i7-8700 – $313 (£290, AU$430)
- Intel Core i5-8400 – $190 (£183, AU$250)
- Intel Core i5-8600K – $257 (£190, AU$325)
- Intel Core i5-8600 – $213 (about £150, AU$277)
- Intel Core i3-8100 – $130 (£99, AU$145)
- Intel Core i3-8350K – $180 (£160, AU$240)
- Intel Core i3-8300 – $138 (about £98, AU$180)
Unfortunately, we won’t know until Intel actually releases pricing information, but between generations, Intel doesn’t generally shift its pricing all that much.
This is where things are going to get interesting. It’s been a very long time since we’ve seen a die process shrink at Intel, but when Broadwell succeeded Haswell (yeah, it’s been that long), we saw 30% gains in efficiency. This will mean that battery life in the best laptops will surge, and we’ll be able to overclock even harder while keeping temps manageable.
Tom’s Hardware has reported that a dual-core Cannon Lake CPU was shipped last year according to a Spectre microcode guidance document, but it’s highly unlikely that consumer units will be the same. Otherwise AMD would eat them alive for that. We’ll likely see higher core counts, as Intel is going to want to go up against AMD in a major way.
This dual-core chip was likely that Intel Core i3 8121U processor that was just listed by Intel. According to the product listing the processor features two cores and fou threads delivering 2.2GHz of base performance and boost clock of 3.2GHz. It also has a TDP of just 15W and a 4MB cache.
We’ve also seen a leaked document that suggests a new X399 chipset in the works that would support existing Coffee Lake CPUs and possibly Cannon Lake processors as well, suggesting enthusiasts won’t need to upgrade their motherboard to get on the Cannon Lake train.
If the newly-announced Intel i7-8086K is any kind of clue as to what we can expect from future Intel products with its 5GHz boost clock, we won’t only see high core counts as a result of the move to a 10nm process, but crazy high clock speeds as well.
Ultimately, we won’t know what performance advantages Cannon Lake CPUs will offer until Intel shares some more information about it, but because it’s been pushed back until 2019. It’s likely we won’t hear anything from the tech behemoth until CES 2019. But, don’t worry if anything changes, we’ll update this page. So, keep your eyes glued to this page.