The second of Intel’s enthusiast-based announcements after the unlocked Iris Pro coming to Broadwell is one regarding Intel’s new high performance platform. Currently we sit with socket LGA 2011 featuring Sandy Bridge-E and Ivy Bridge-E CPUs on top of the X79 chipset using DDR3 memory. Intel are confirming today that the next stage in that process will be Haswell-E, supported by the new X99 chipset and flanked with DDR4 memory.

The new processor line up will have an 8-core CPU at the top end, which Intel is calling their first ‘8-core desktop processor’ (strictly speaking Avoton is a server part). Given that the Xeon line of Ivy Bridge-E CPUs can hit 10, 12 and 15-core counts as we have reviewed, it should have been possible for Intel to consider these core counts for the enthusiast platform. However Intel has no competition in this area to innovate, so while core counts may rise on the Xeon side of the equation, for the consumer line we will have to wait longer for anything more than 8 cores.

The shift to DDR4 memory has been expected for a number of quarters. Speculation initially revolved around DDR4 coming earlier than Haswell-E, but we have to consider the enterprise market on this one. As many Ivy Bridge-E users have lamented, staying with the X79 platform has put consumers on the back foot when it comes to connectivity compared to the 8-series platform. X79 is down on USB 3.0 ports, SATA 6 Gbps ports and no mention of Flex-IO. So with X99 and DDR4, given that we expect to keep this platform for at least Haswell-E and Broadwell-E (potentially 2.5 to 3 years), it comes in now in preparation for the future platforms. We have seen DDR4 modules being tested at various trade shows, and I would imagine that most of the major memory partners (especially the enthusiast lines) are currently preparing kits.

The X99 platform is almost a complete unknown at this point. Given that Intel state that Haswell-E is planned for 2H 2014, we have had no information. In order to remain as the top end platform in the chipset sense (and not fall behind like X79), I would imagine X99 to take many cues from Z87 and even from the 9-series motherboards we have seen at CeBIT. This should mean a full complement of SATA 6 Gbps ports and USB 3.0 ports, with support for M.2, although we have no confirmation. Similarly while I would expect Flex IO to be present, allowing manufacturers to vary the number of PCIe 2.0 lanes from the chipset in exchange for SATA 6 Gbps ports and USB 3.0 ports, we also have no confirmation. In the past there have been X79 products with SAS support, although these were extra parts of the chipset that were not part of the validation process. It would be interesting to see if any of that functionality makes its way in. Flex IO seems like the future of flexible chipset design, and it would be interesting to see if Intel thinks this way as well.

As mentioned, and in the slide, Haswell-E is due in the second half of 2014. We unfortunately have no extra information on that date, but it confirms 2014 rather than 2015 which had been speculated.

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  • f0d - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    actually handbrake scales pretty much linearly with more cores - i have tested it with my 3930k
  • BMNify - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    yes it does for the old AVX SIMD portion , but compare that to the later AVX2 optimizations and you get up to 70% ish better data throughput for a given 1080P/UHD highest visual quality encode, you should try using a generic FFMPEG/AVCONV bat script as that gives you better throughput when tuned over the handbrake GUI...
  • twtech - Friday, March 28, 2014 - link

    It's a chicken-and-egg problem. Somebody has to put a larger number of cores in the hands of end-users so that development tools and software will have a increasing reason to catch up.
  • f0d - Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - link

    i was also disappointed at how many cores came out on consumer x79 - sure there was the ability to use xeons but you cant oc them so my 6 core 5.0ghz 3930k would have been just as fast or even faster than any 8 core xeon (for encoding videos which is what i mostly need the cores for)
  • Samus - Wednesday, May 14, 2014 - link

    Maybe this will finally be a legit reason to upgrade my x58, i7 975, which coincidently was the first DDR3 platform, and triple-channel at that.
  • munim - Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - link

    Would X99 be coming out too early for Sata Express to be implemented?
  • JMcGrath - Sunday, April 13, 2014 - link

    I have been looking for a definitive answer to this very same question myself - or even if (or when) X79 will receive SATA Express.

    However, I am going to go out on a limb and bet on the fact it WILL be included.

    Considering Z87 Boards are already seeing SATA Express models (search ASUS Z87 DELUXE/SATA Express), and add the fact that even consumer boards such as H97 - as well as Z97/Z99 - will feature SATA Express, I see no reason X99 would not!

    Whether X99 has *native* support or not remains to be seen, although this may be a feature left for (perhaps intentionally) FLEX IO.

    Either way, I am not too worried about it. I had put a hold on my new build going all the way back to a 3930K which I exchanged for a 4930K waiting and hoping for implementation on the X79 boards (which unfortunately seems will not come). Although I have finally decided to just proceed with my build on a high end X79 motherboard (still deciding between the RIVE Black, X79 Dark, P9X79-WS, etc).

    Even with 2 (possibly 3) GTX 780 Titan Black's, or Flagship Maxwell GPU - 40 PCIe 3.0 lanes is more than enough to support 2, 3 or even 4 top GPUs and a SATA Express Controller!! Unless you are planning on running more than 4 SATA Express SSDs there would be no issue, at which point you would run into CPU limitations before On-board or discrete controller issues.
  • Scabies - Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - link

    Ahh, finally DDR4!
  • iwod - Wednesday, March 19, 2014 - link

    Haswell-E will be new Xeon E3 with 8 Core?
    i.e Broadwell wont be availbe on Server / Desktop ( Except that one with Iris Pro )?

    Slight confused here.
  • Kevin G - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    Haswell-E will be the basis for Xeon E5 v3 that should ship by the end of the year. It will use socket 2011v3 which has support for DDR4.

    Broadwell on socket 1150 will be the basis for the next generation of Xeon E3 v4 chips due earlier next year.

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