Intel is slashing the price of its next generation Core i9 X-series processors for the high-end desktop market by up to 50 percent.
The chipmaker announced on Tuesday that a new line of Core i9 X-series processors that will launch in November will pack bigger bang for the buck for enthusiasts, content creators, overclockers and small businesses.
The processors feature up to 18 cores and 4.8GHz in turbo clock frequency, but what's most notable is the pricing: the processors are 40-50 percent cheaper than the previous generation.
Case in point: the forthcoming Intel Core i9-10980XE's recommended customer pricing is US$979 for 18 cores, 36 threads, a base frequency of 3.0GHz and a turbo clock frequency of 4.8GHz. That’s a whopping 50 percent cut compared to the previous-generation Core i9-9980XE which was priced at US$1979 for the same number of cores and base frequency and a slightly lower turbo frequency. That means a faster processor, with added features like Deep Learning Boost and expanded memory capacity, at half the cost.
The other processors in the new lineup include the Core i9-10940X, the Core i9-10920X and the Core i9-10900X, which come with 14 cores, 12 cores and 10 cores, respectively. Other features across the entire lineup include Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology and platform support for 72 PCIe lanes.
Frank Soqui, vice president and general manager of Intel's Desktop, Workstation and Channel Group, said in an interview with CRN USA that semiconductor giant has not embarked on a processor pricing shakeup of this magnitude ever before. He said Intel decided to lower the prices for its X-series processors after observing customers who held back from upgrading due to the US$1000-plus price tag of the previous generations.
"That gap is so big for the people at the top end of our mainstream roadmap [with processors like the Core i7], they can't cross that chasm,” said Soqui, a 37 year Intel veteran. “So we brought those prices down, so that those people could move up and enjoy a higher performance."
Soqui said he expects rival AMD to be forced to respond to Intel’s more aggressive i9 X-Series Processor pricing.
"It is not related to AMD,”he said of the unprecedented price cut. “It's in service of my customer and oh, by the way, I believe AMD's going to be the one responding to this versus us responding to them.”
CRN USA has reached out to AMD for comment.
Price cuts arrive as Intel-AMD CPU battle heats up
The announcement of the new Core i9 X-series comes with the processor battle between Intel and AMD heating up on multiple fronts, including in the desktop processor space.
In July, AMD launched its third-generation Ryzen mainstream desktop processors, which comes with higher core counts and a lower price-per-core ratio than Intel's ninth-generation Core processors that target the same market.
Some industry observers and partners have wondered if Intel would respond by lowering the prices of its ninth-generation Core processors, but that has not played out.
Meanwhile, AMD recently announced plans to launch its third-generation Ryzen Threadripper processors, which compete with Intel's X-series in the high-end desktop market, in November. Like the mainstream Ryzen series, AMD has positioned Threadripper as price-competitive to Intel.
Price cuts could be a good sign for Intel's supply
Intel's major price cuts for the Core i9 X-series processors could be a good sign for the company's supply of high-end products, given that the company is still dealing with some CPU shortages, according to Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy.
"This could be a function of Intel looking better in the fab," he said. "They might feel more comfortable they can up the gas on these big parts."
Taiwanese news site DigiTimes reported in late September that Intel was continuing to see supply constraints for its 14-nanometer chip manufacturing capacity. An Intel spokesperson confirmed that the company is continuing to deal with some shortages as demand for PCs exceeds expectations.
"We have added 14nm output capacity and are ramping volume on 10nm with systems on shelf for holiday," the Intel spokesperson said. "While our output capacity is increasing, we remain in a challenging supply-demand environment in our PC-centric business. We are actively working to address this challenge, and we continue to prioritize available output toward the newest generation Core i5, i7 and i9 products that support our customers’ high-growth segments."
Moorhead said Intel's new X-series processors could prompt a new refresh opportunity for commercial customers with aging PCs and workstations.
"It gives channel partners the ability to go back to their customers and say, 'that processor that's $1,000 is now $500 and you have worn-out gear — now would be a great time to [upgrade],'" he said.