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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  • dstarr3 - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    I have the sneaking suspicion that X99 is going to crammed full of new interfaces and technologies that haven't quite reached maturity yet...
  • georgekn3mp - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    Wow and I thought my SB-E 3930k with 16GB Quad-channel 1866 DDR-3 RAM was fast...

    well at least I could re-purpose my Raided SSD's and the dual GTX670 with an X99 board...but then just the Has-E CPU and DDR4 and mobo would cost as much as the dual GPU and pair of SSD cost me in 2012. I would hope for more than a 10% increase overall...

    But going from 40-50 GB/s memory bandwidth to whatever Quad-DDR4 has PLUS two more cores (4 more threads) would make a bigger difference than the upgrade from SB-E to IB-E that I skipped?
  • chizow - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    Too little too late for me for this E platform, got tired of waiting for a worthy successor to X58 that was on par with Intel's Mainstream Performance platform and it never came, so I caved and built two Z87/Haswell rigs instead. Haswell-E and X99 would've been great if it came last year, but I got tired of Intel dragging their feet.
  • semo - Monday, April 21, 2014 - link

    You got tired of waiting on Intel so you bought Intel products instead? Well that's the reality. Back to the bad old days of pre Athlon 64. At least they are still shrinking the nodes for now but it is a shame that there is almost no competition in the home CPU and chipset market
  • azazel1024 - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    I hope that means that Haswell-E and Broadwell-E will be 6/8 core chips and not a single 8 core extreme chip, a 6 core and then a quad core or two on the low end. I'd really like something markedly faster than what I am running now for heavily multithreaded tasks (Lightroom, Photoshop, Handbrake). My biggest issue is, I can't justify shelling out a $300-400+ premium over high end quad core processor just to get a hexacore.

    So I am hoping that means that the lowest end Haswell-E/Broadwell-E is going to be a Hexacore processor now...and in the same $300-400 price range that the current low end Ivy-E quad core processor is.

    I can justify $100-200 dearer price tag to increase my core count by 50%.
  • Ytterbium - Monday, June 9, 2014 - link

    Seems like there will be 6's at low end and 8 for extreme. The x820K was kind of pointless, worse performance on high end platform.
  • toyotabedzrock - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    This seems like a badly thought out release plan. If your targeting enthusiasts you don't release a Cpu with last years design and the new mainstream design at the same time.
  • lilmoe - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    I've yet to see the value in Intel's E-Series chips, at least not with *that* difference in price.
  • DnaAngel - Wednesday, May 21, 2014 - link

    They have their uses, especially if you run highly threaded applications. I never saw the justification in the top end E's , but the k versions are manageable at $500 ish. Like the IVB-E 4930k. If they stay true to the numbering scheme, the go to Haswell-E would be the 5930k.

    I dont mind paying $500ish for an 8 core 16 threaded CPU. Tie that in with DDR4 and X99 and 2 GTX 870's, but I don't plan on grabbing up the upgrade till Summer '15. Gives manufacturers time to refine boards (r2.0's) and DDR4 to stabilize in price with revisions to its speeds etc. Hopefully by next summer, Asus will of released a Rampage Black Edition X99 based Motherboard. Rampage V I presume. As an upgrade to the Rampage that will be available with Haswell E's launch.
  • Stuka87 - Thursday, March 20, 2014 - link

    Looks like I am going to push off building a new system a bit longer than. My aging gaming box plays the majority of things fine, so I can hold off a little longer.

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