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Intel Slashes Pricing on X-Series

October 22, 2019

Author: Bob Wheeler

For PC enthusiasts, hardware competition is heating up. This month, Intel updated its high-end-desktop (HEDT) and related workstation lines: the Core X-series and Xeon W, respectively. The new Cascade Lake-X processors are socket-compatible replacements for Skylake-X, although the new Glacier Falls platform adds Ethernet and Wi-Fi features that the previous Basin Falls platform lacked. Aimed at enthusiasts and content creators, the generational improvements are mostly minor.

The big news, however, is dramatically reduced prices for the X-series, a response to increased competitive pressure from AMD. The Core i9-10980XE knocks the first digit off of its predecessor’s price. At the bottom of the product stack, the 10900X cuts 40% off the 9900X’s price. The top of the K-series effectively replaces the 9800X, with the i9-9900KF delivering similar CPU performance at a lower price and power level. The top four models in the new Xeon W-2200 line match the core counts and clock speeds of the Core-branded chips, but they support more DRAM as well as ECC; Intel cut their prices by nearly half.

Although Cascade Lake-X uses the same CPU microarchitecture as Skylake-X, it adds VNNI extensions (branded DL Boost) that accelerate AI inference workloads. It also bumps maximum memory speed from DDR4-2666 to DDR4-2933. Even with the faster memory, Cascade Lake-X delivers only a small performance improvement for most workloads. Conversely, it delivers a huge boost in price/performance, but Intel’s price cuts don’t correspond to manufacturing-cost reductions. Instead, the new pricing aims to blunt the threat from AMD’s new Zen 2 products, including Ryzen 9 and the forthcoming third-generation Threadripper.

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