Intel Core i9 10980XE processor review

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An Introduction

Core i9 10980XE processor review
Many cores, more secure, faster, stronger.

We review the all-new 18-core Core i9 10980XE from Intel. Despite many announcements, this is the most versatile (in cores) HEDT processor for the consumer market from intel, the $999 Core i9 10980XE that sits as the flagship processor in the new Cascade Lake-X line of processors. Before we begin, a massive thank you towards two Intel employees. As you guys have learned, back in 2017 here in the EU Intel killed all marketing, press and PR activities. Hence the majority of media all over Europe was not receiving any information or samples from Intel anymore. Ever since last year, things picked up for the EU press releases wise, just not for the Netherlands, where we reside. Despite us being a website with a global audience, marketing teams work with seeding targets, the Netherlands simply is a small country and therefore too small to be significant for sampling. That experience has been saddening and difficult, however with renewed contacts we do hope this will be a thing if the past. So, thanks to the two guys at Intel who took an interest and heard me out and acted on that, you know who you are.  

Right, back to processors. Man what a month this has been. We've seen many-core plethora from AMD and now Intel with their Cascade Lake-X series HEDT processors. With the recent introduction of Ryzen 3000 and the announcement of Threadripper 3000 processors the processor market and channel once again is turned up-side-down with a plethora of procs to choose from. Three years ago Intel got a serious awakening call from team red and as such, they needed to step up their business model, significantly. Intel’s primary processor business for the desktop consumer market had been releasing and refreshing quad-core processors for too many years. You can't really blame them either as there was little competition - hence they had no rush and have been relaxed all the way. A shift in that paradigm changed everything. All of a sudden there were 6 and 8 cores processors, nice and fast. But then, two years ago, Intel got hit by another problem, with the industry and the world in general changing, everything online is attacked in some way or form. Yes, processor vulnerabilities started to really hurt Intel, more than AMD. And albeit 98% of them have been patched in software some way or the other, it did have a subtle effect on performance, as well as Intel's long-lasting reputation. Current processors have been hardened for Spectre and Meltdown varieties as well as other vulnerabilities. For that though in the desktop segment you will need the next-gen desktop series processors running up-to 10-cores. Comet Lake is said to hit the market early 2020. It would offer up to ten cores on socket 1200. Processors that will be vulnerability hardened.

With that introductory paragraph out of the way, we now move towards the HEDT platform, here we break away from that 8-cores and move towards the familiar X299 chipset based platform, which remained compatible with the new Cascade Lake-X line of processors. Intel has been releasing four SKUs initially:

ProcessorCore i9 7980XE BoxedCore i9 9980XE BoxedCore i9 10980XE Boxed
CPU core Skylake-X Skylake-X Cascade Lake-X
CPU socket Socket 2066 Socket 2066 Socket 2066
Clock frequency 2.6 GHz 3.0 GHz 3.0 GHz
All cores turbo clock frequency 3.4 GHz 3.8 GHz 3.8 GHz
Max turbo clock frequency 4.4 GHz 4.5 GHz 4.8 GHz
Number of cores 18 cores 18 cores 18 cores
Number of threads 36 36 36
HyperThreading / SMT Yes Yes Yes
Thermal design power 165 W 165 W 165 W
Production process 14 nm + 14 nm ++ 14 nm ++
Number of PCIe lanes 44 44 48

The table above shows you some interesting specifications. First off, look closely at the processor prices and compare these back and forth, that's right as intel as roughly slashed prices in half. The Intel top-of-the-range high-end processor with 18 cores and 36 processing threads has a Base / Turbo frequency of 3.00 / 4.80 GHz with 24.75 MB of L3 cache and offers up to 72 PCI-Express 3.0 lines with DDR4 2933 MHz Quad-Channel memory support. A processor that is tagged with a 165W TDP.  The 4.8 GHz is Turbo Boost max mode 3.0, e.g. one core. Two cores at 4.6 GHz and from there on downwards to 3.8 GHz. So intel focussed on a steady all-core boost frequency of 3800 MHz with a single core boost running towards 4.8 GHz. Priced at 979 USD, we'll be checking out that flagship model Core i9-10980XE today.

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