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Intel Goes Extreme With 10-Core Desktop Chips

A new 10-core processor from Intel debuted at Computex yesterday, one of four new CPUs the company unveiled. While ostensibly designed for the desktop market, the chips might have more in common with their server-level cousins, both in terms of price and computing power.

The 10-core model alone will set you back a cool $1,723, more than enough to buy your own system. The company is promoting the four new chips, which come with 10, eight, or six cores, as an “extreme” edition of its core lineup, built especially for the heavy computing needs of content creators and gamers.

“Just as consumers are expanding what they’re doing with their PCs, the Intel Core i7 processor Extreme Edition delivers a new level of capability — now with up to 10 cores of mind-blowing performance,” Gregory Bryant, general manager of Intel’s Connected Home and Commercial Client division, said in a statement. “It’s designed not just for multi-tasking, but also for mega-tasking.”

Video and VR Applications

A 10-core chip might seem like overkill to most people, who will find Intel’s standard quad-core chips to be more than sufficient for their day-to-day needs. But Bryant cited high-definition video capture from phones and cameras as one possible use case for the mammoth new chips, along with creating and editing a film or video from raw 4K footage — a processing-intensive workload.

The new chips will allow users to edit natively in 4K and complete virtually every possible filmmaking task on the same computer, including creating high-end visual effects, according to Bryant. Another possible use case for the chips is developing virtual reality programs, he said. The company is pitching the chips as a way to future-proof desktops to ensure they can run VR applications that haven’t yet been developed.

The top-of-the-line model, labeled the i7-6950X, features 20 threads, in addition to its 10 cores, four memory channels and 40 PCI 3.0 express lanes. It also comes with a 25 MB L3 cache, support for up to four graphics cards, and a base clock speed of 3.0 GHz. The new processor family is also the first to feature Intel’s new Turbo Boost Max Technology, which improves single-threaded performance by more than 15 percent.

Nosebleed-Level Prices

While the i7-6950X model is the most impressive of the bunch, it’s nosebleed-level price point will likely keep it from gaining much market share. Its siblings, meanwhile, might prove to be more influential. The 6900K, 6850K, and 6800K feature eight, six, and six cores and 16, 12, and 12 threads, respectively. All four share the same 140W TDP and four channel DDR4-2400 memory support.

The 6900K, meanwhile, will be significantly cheaper than the flagship model, listing at $1,089 for orders of a thousand or more, still not cheap but a big drop in price for only two fewer cores. The 6850K is priced at $617, while the 6800K lists for $434.

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