Subject: Processors | August 1, 2018 - 01:24 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: msi, Z370, Intel, 9900k, 9700, 8700k
Hot on the heels on an Intel Roadmap leak yesterday that points to Intel's upcoming Coffee Lake refresh desktop processors launching as soon a Q3 2018, MSI today confirmed through a news post on their website that these new processors will retain compatibility with at least Z370 motherboards.
The table posted by MSI contains the specific BIOS versions that add compatibility for these new processors for each Z370 motherboard in their lineup. There's no information about other existing Coffee Lake chipsets such as H370 and B360, but previous leaks have pointed towards these motherboards having some level of compatibility with new Intel processors.
The 9000-series is rumored to contain Intel's first 8-core consumer-oriented CPUs, in both non-hyperthreaded (i7-9700K), and hyperthreaded (i9-9900K) forms.
Is it a usable feature?
EDIT: We've received some clarification from Intel on this feature:
"The feature is actually apart of RST. While this is a CPU-attached storage feature, it is not VROC. VROC is a CPU-attached PCIe Storage component of the enterprise version of the product, Intel RSTe. VROC requires the new HW feature Intel Volume Management Device (Intel VMD) which is not available on the Z370 Chipset.
The Intel Rapid Storage Technology for CPU-attached Intel PCIe Storage feature is supported with select Intel chipsets and requires system manufacturer integration. Please contact the system manufacturer for a list of their supported platforms."
While this doesn't change how the feature works, or our testing, we wanted to clarify this point and have removed all references to VROC on Z370 in this review.
While updating our CPU testbeds for some upcoming testing, we came across an odd listing on the UEFI updates page for our ASUS ROG STRIX Z370-E motherboard.
From the notes, it appeared that the release from late April of this year enables VROC for the Z370 platform. Taking a look at the rest of ASUS' Z370 lineup, it appears that all of its models received a similar UEFI update mentioning VROC. EDIT: As it turns out, while these patch notes call this feature "VROC", it is officially known as "Intel Rapid Storage Technology for CPU-attached Intel PCIe Storage " and slightly different than VROC on other Intel platforms.
While we are familiar with VROC as a CPU-attached RAID technology for NVMe devices on the Intel X299 and Xeon Scalable platforms, it has never been mentioned as an available option for the enthusiast grade Z-series chipsets. Could this be a preview of a feature that Intel has planned to come for the upcoming Z390 chipset?
Potential advantages of a CPU-attached RAID mode on the Z370 platform mostly revolve around throughput. While the chipset raid mode on the Z370 chipset will support three drives, the total throughput is limited to just under 4GB/s by the DMI 3.0 link between the processor and chipset.
Like we've seen AMD do on their X470 platform, CPU-attached RAID should scale as long as you have CPU-connected PCI-Express lanes available, and not being used by another device like a GPU or network card.
First, some limitations.
Primarily, it's difficult to connect multiple NVMe devices to the CPU rather than the chipset on most Z370 motherboards. Since the platform natively supports NVMe RAID through the Z370 chipset, all of the M.2 slots on our Strix Z370-E are wired to go through the chipset connection rather than directly to the CPU's PCIe lanes.
To combat this, we turned to the ASUS Hyper M.2 X16 card, which utilizes PCIe bifurcation to enable usage of 4 M.2 devices via one PCI-E X16 slot. Luckily, ASUS has built support for bifurcation, and this Hyper M.2 card into the UEFI for the Strix Z370-E.
Aiming to simplify the setup, we are using the integrated UHD 620 graphics of the i7-8700K, and running the Hyper M.2 card in the primary PCIe slot, usually occupied by a discrete GPU.
Subject: Processors | April 16, 2018 - 10:02 AM | Ken Addison
Tagged: coffee lake, coffee lake s, 8700k, Z370, Z390, 6+2, 8+2
One more piece of evidence was brought to our attention recently, as spotted by an eagle-eyed user on Reddit. Intel's Technical Documentation website now seems to contain documents referencing an unreleased "Coffee Lake S 8+2" product.
In Intel nomenclature, 8+2 would refer to 8 CPU cores, plus 2 integrated GPU cores. For example, the current 6-core i7-8700K processor is referred to as a 6+2 processor configuration. Hence, the 8+2 processor being referenced here would be a sibling to the 8700K, with two more CPU cores.
Unfortunately, the actual documents are hidden behind an Intel login page, so we are unable to view them in full, but rather only have titles and short descriptions of their contents.
Given their recent appetite for the "i9" brand as the highest-end configurations, as we saw on the recent Coffee Lake-H notebook processor launch, I would expect this to be the first mainstream Intel desktop processor to carry the "i9" branding.
Additionally, we see documents referring to design aspects of both the existing Coffee Lake-S 6+2 part (8700K) and this new 8+2 part. This brings us hope that Z370 motherboards will remain compatible with this new processor, and not require yet another chipset.
While it seems likely that these new processors will launch alongside a Z390 chipset, we would expect the same level of compatibility while adding connectivity features built into the chipset such as USB 3.1 Gen 2 and 802.11ac wireless, as we saw on the recent H370 and B360 chipsets.
With the launch of AMD's Ryzen 2000-series of processors looming later this week, it seems like Intel is playing the waiting game before launching this 8-core processor. Speculation is that we could see this part before Computex in June.
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Chipsets | April 3, 2018 - 03:01 AM | Ken Addison
Tagged: Intel, H370, H310, coffee lake, B360, 8700k
Since the Coffee Lake-S desktop processor launch with the i7-8700K in October of last year, the processor lineup has remained a bit bare compared to previous generations.
While we are used to an Intel processor platform launch having several SKUs covering the entire spectrum of consumers, from Pentium all the way to up Core i7, Coffee Lake currently sits at just 6 different processor options.
Today, Intel is rounding out the rest of the Coffee Lake desktop lineup with the addition of more traditional desktop SKUs, as well as low-power "T-series" CPUs.
Filling out the i5-lineup, we have two more 6 core options without hyper-threaded in the i5-8600 and i5-8400. The Core i3-8300 provides a 100MHz boost to the existing quad-core i3-8100, while staying in the same 65W TDP.
The little-known T-Series are Intel's lower frequency desktop chips that are configured to run at just 35W while remaining desktop-level performance. Traditionally, these CPUs are used in OEM configurations, but enthusiasts looking for ultra-small form factor and quiet PCs have been known to use these CPUs in the past.
Overall, these CPU announcements are difficult to get too excited about, but help round out the 8th Generation lineup into more available price points, which is always good for consumers looking to build a PC.
Even better news for anyone looking to build an 8th Generation-based PC is the addition of new, lower cost chipsets. Previously, only expensive Z370-based boards were compatible with Coffee Lake processors.
Now, joining the Z370 chipset for consumers, we have the H370, and B360 chipsets. While sacrificing I/O options and overclocking availability, motherboards based on these chipsets should provide a much greater value for consumers looking to build a lower-end Coffee Lake system. The H370, Q370, and B360 chipsets also provide USB 3.1 Gen 2 connectivity directly from the chipset.
In addition, Intel has also added built-in 802.11ac support into all of these new chipsets, providing a solid wireless solution without any additonal peripherals.
No exact word on availability of these new processors or chipsets, but we expect them to start hitting the market very soon!
Specifications and Summary
As seems to be the trend for processor reviews as of late, today marks the second in a two-part reveal of Intel’s Coffee Lake consumer platform. We essentially know all there is to know about the new mainstream and DIY PC processors from Intel, including specifications, platform requirements, and even pricing; all that is missing is performance. That is the story we get to tell you today in our review of the Core i7-8700K and Core i5-8400.
Coffee Lake is the second spoke of Intel's “8th generation” wheel that began with the Kaby Lake-R release featuring quad-core 15-watt notebook processors for the thin and light market. Though today’s release of the Coffee Lake-S series (the S is the designation for consumer desktop) doesn’t share the same code name, it does share the same microarchitecture, same ring bus design (no mesh here), and same underlying technology. They are both built on the Intel 14nm process technology.
And much like Kaby Lake-R in the notebook front, Coffee Lake is here to raise the core count and performance profile of the mainstream Intel CPU playbook. When AMD first launched the Ryzen 7 series of processors that brought 8-cores and 16-threads of compute, it fundamentally shook the mainstream consumer markets. Intel was still on top in terms of IPC and core clock speeds, giving it the edge in single and lightly threaded workloads, but AMD had released a part with double the core and thread count and was able to dominate in most multi-threaded workloads compared to similar Intel offerings.
Much like Skylake-X before it, Coffee Lake had been on Intel’s roadmap from the beginning, but new pressure from a revived AMD meant bringing that technology to the forefront sooner rather than later in an effort stem any potential shifts in market share and maybe more importantly, mind share among investors, gamers, and builders. Coffee Lake, and the Core i7, Core i5, and Core i3 processors that will be a part of this 8000-series release, increase the core count across the board, and generally raise clock speeds too. Intel is hoping that by bumping its top mainstream CPU to 6-cores, and coupling that with better IPC and higher clocks, it can alleviate the advantages that AMD has with Ryzen.
But does it?
That’s what we are here to find out today. If you need a refresher on the build up to this release, we have the specifications and slight changes in the platform and design summarized for you below. Otherwise, feel free to jump on over to the benchmarks!