While Intel didn't unveil their 10th Generation Desktop processors at CES 2020, their partners did mention some interesting details of the upcoming platform. Talking to Computerbase, many board partners didn't appreciate Intel's decision of not unveiling their Comet Lake-S processors since they already have products ready for the upcoming lineup while also mentioning how they are going to strengthen their motherboards for the Core i9-10900K which is reported to be one power hog of a chip.
Intel Core i9-10900K, 10 Core Flagship 14nm Mainstream Chip, Reportedly Consumes Over 300 Watts of Power at Full Load
The fact that motherboard partners have to sit idle while they have entire product lines ready to go out for Intel's next-generation processors is quite depressing. Intel focused the entirety of their CES 2020 keynote on mobility products whereas their competitor, AMD, had something for all, including Ryzen desktop and Ryzen mobile products. Intel did somewhat surprise us with their DG1 graphics chip announcement, but aside from that, their keynote wasn't as fueled as AMD's.
I want to point out that Intel's 400-series chipset isn't a mystery at this point. We have seen retail-ready motherboards appear in several benchmark leaks and we have full lineups from various board manufacturers leaked already. The same board partners also told us to expect a hard launch in February 2020 which is a month away and Intel could have at the very least presented us the specifications of the processors in a more official manner considering how those have also been leaked out recently. ASUS and MSI even had press releases ready that mentioned Intel's 10th Generation processors and key information which they had to revise at the very last moment.
But the main point of this story isn't how Intel's 10th Gen desktop CPUs were missing in action on the CES 2020 floor but how the flagship Intel Core i9-10900K mainstream chip is going to end up as the most power-hungry 14nm mainstream chip ever produced. It is reported by the source that the Intel Core i9-10900K 10 core processor would end up consuming more than 300 Watts of power.
Several motherboard manufacturers revealed that the ten-core break the 300-watt mark at maximum load. Not surprisingly, the 9900KS already exceeded the 250-watt mark in scenarios of this kind. via Computebase
The motherboard makers have stated that they have done a great job to update the power delivery of their new motherboards for the 10th Generation processors, but this shows why Intel has to put aside its 14nm node and move to either 10nm or 7nm desktop processors if they want to keep up with AMD. The 300+ Watts power consumption is for all cores loaded up at the maximum 4.9 GHz boost frequency.
The i9-10900K features 10 cores, 20 threads a total cache of 20 MB and a 125W TDP. The chip has a base frequency of 3.7 GHz and a boost frequency of 5.1 GHz. However, using Intel's Turbo Boost Max 3.0 technology, the chip can boost up to 5.2 GHz on a single-core and what's even better is the 4.9 GHz all-core boost. Some of the features of this particular chip include:
- Up to 4.8 GHz All-Core Turbo
- Up to 5.3 / 4.9 GHz Thermal Velocity Boost Single / All-core Turbo
- Up to 5.2 GHz Intel Turbo Boost Max 3.0
- Up to 10C and 20T
- Up to DDR4-2933 MHz dual-channel
- Enhanced Core & Memory Overclocking
- Active Core Group Tuning
Here's the interesting part, the AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X 32 core processor with its 7nm Zen 2 cores has a maximum power draw of under 300 Watts at full load across all cores. This is shown by Anandtech in their review of the 3970X. We have seen how the 3970X demolishes Intel's entire HEDT lineup and how its general gaming performance ends up surprisingly close to the i9-9900KS.
Now AMD 3970X does feature a lower boost clock on each core compared to the 9900KS / 9900K and that's one reason why the chip is so power-efficient, but AMD showed that you don't need higher clocks anymore to beat Intel's lineup and their added 7nm IPC boosts have made them come out on par or even exceed the single-core performance of Intel's existing chips. Even Intel's own slides put the PL2 limit of the 10900K at 250W which may have been tested with the more conservative 4.8 GHz all-core boost clock and not the thermal velocity boost algorithm. Now, these figures may not be for an average or prolonged use case scenario, but the short spikes which these boost features display, but still, it's worrisome and could lead to thermal throttling under inadequate cooling. Users buying a high-end Core i9-10900K won't be worrying about the power figures though but they can still compare these figures to an AMD chip which shows much higher efficiency than Intel's aging 14nm node.
If that's not enough, AMD's ECO mode has also shown to be a very useful feature with their 16 core and 32 core chips performing very well even with toned down power limits. It shows just how much of an immense efficiency leap the new 7nm Zen 2 cores have been for AMD, offering desktop class performance on mobile platforms with Ryzen 4000 'Renoir' processors. It is possible that Intel could do a silent launch of their 10th Gen desktop parts since they are aware they cannot compete with AMD's offerings or the next ones which are due for later this year.
AMD may not even consider offering a price cut as their Ryzen 3000 are competitive enough to compete against Intel's 10th Gen parts unless Intel brings Core i9 down to $350-$400 US which seems unlikely, but then again, they have the financial horsepower to do so to remain competitive in the desktop segment. Intel's 10th Gen lineup may offer multi-threading on all parts along with higher clock speeds, but they would require more power and beefier cooling. With Zen 3 expected next year and AMD eating up market share in all segments, Intel really needs to rethink their CPU strategy and we hope that they can hit their process roadmap goals on time if they really want to hit AMD back.