Even though we are still waiting for Cannon Lake to arrive in volume, it has been a busy year for Intel, which just recently introduced its first 8-core/16-thread desktop processor (Core i9-9900K) for the mainstream market. For enthusiasts, it also refreshed its high-end desktop (HEDT) 9th gen-branded Core-X series processors culminating in the Core i9-9980XE. So, what comes next in the HEDT space? The answer is most likely Glacier Falls.
The latest round of Core X-series CPUs is called Basin Falls Refresh. Glacier Falls is slated to be the successor with an arrival time frame pegged for the second quarter of 2019, assuming a previously leaked roadmap ultimately proves accurate (an earlier leak pointed to late 2018, though that seems unlikely at this point). The upcoming platform will consist of Cascade Lake-X processors.
As part of the new platform, Intel will be introducing a new platform controller hub (PCH) that it will market as X399. It's not clear what kind of upgrades X399 will introduce over its existing X299 chipset, though it's likely to be a beefed up version of Z390, which is the latest chipset for Intel's mainstream desktop CPUs.
While there is still much we don't know about Cascade Lake-X, Intel CFO and interim CEO Bob Swan recently talked about the improvements that Cascade Lake introduced over its predecessor in the data center.
"Cascade Lake introduced hardware-based side channel mitigation, Intel DL Boost with 11x inference speed-up, and a revolutionary new technology, Optane DC Persistent Memory," Swan said during an earnings call.
It's doubtful that DL Boost and Optane DC Persistent Memory will port over to the HEDT side, though we'd be surprised if Intel did not implement side channel mitigation on the hardware level. In addition, assuming the new parts are built on a 14nm++ manufacturing process, we can also expect better power efficiency and higher clockspeeds out of Cascade Lake-X.
It will also be interesting to see what kind core and thread counts the new chips bring to the table. As a point of reference, Intel's flagship Core i9-9980XE is a beastly 18-core/36-thread processor clocked at 3GHz to 4.5GHz, with 24.75MB of Smart Cache and 44 PCIe lanes. We'll have to wait and see if Intel ups the ante.