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Intel’s First 5GHz Processor

July 3, 2018

Author: Linley Gwennap

To mark the 40th anniversary of its 8086 processor, Intel released its first processor rated for 5GHz operation, the Core i7-8086K. Like other K-series models, the 8086K targets gamers and is unlocked, allowing overclockers to push it to even higher speeds. The new chip is similar to the Core i7-8700K, a six-core 14nm processor with a 95W TDP, but the latter tops out at a relatively paltry 4.7GHz. More recently, Intel pushed the Coffee Lake design to 4.8GHz in the Core i9-8950HK. The 8086K carries a list price of $425, versus $359 for the 8700K, and is available immediately.

At the same event where it announced the 8086K, Intel also demonstrated a single-socket 28-core processor running all cores at 5GHz, claiming that it will begin shipping by the end of this year. But the company later admitted the demo system used a massive 1,000W liquid-cooling system to reach such a high clock speed. It will likely announce the 28-core processor as part of its Extreme X-series, but such a product will have an all-core speed much lower than 5GHz. Presumably, it would be similar to the Xeon Platinum 8180, a 28-core design with a rated speed of 2.5GHz at 205W TDP.

The 8086K sets a high-water mark for Intel CPU speed, exactly one thousand times faster than its 40-year-old namesake. Yields of the 8700K are good enough for the company to simply skim off the fastest chips as a higher speed grade. Gamers, however, may hesitate to pay an extra $66 for a mere 6% speed boost. Those with big budgets may instead buy 8- or 10-core X-series chips to get more performance. Although the 8086K fills a niche, it will take the 10nm Ice Lake to really move the needle for PC performance.

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