Intel May Increase Mainstream Core Count for Cannonlake
Samuel Wan / 3 years ago
Intel has long limited the mainstream platform to 4 physical cores, with 8 threads due only to Hyper-Threading. This has held true for the longest time, with power users who wanted more cores making the jump to LGA 1366 and 2011. According to an Intel CPU engineer profile, Intel will start offering more cores starting with Cannonlake in 2017. Instead of a jump to 6 cores, the alleged Cannonlake SoC will feature up to 8 cores.
While some may say that this is a server processor, that is unlikely due to the SoC designation. That usually points to a mobile environment, with an attached GPU and other dedicated hardware on the same chip. The biggest question is whether or not this core-count increase is going towards mobile devices or the higher performance desktop platform. As we all know, the mobile world ahs become obsessed with core counts so a low power extreme multi-core CPU may be there for marketing. That segment would be better served though by a 10nm shrink of Goldmont from the Atom lineup which should still exist in 2017.
One of the reasons Intel may be moving to more cores on the mainstream platform in 2017, is that software is slowly starting to feed 4 cores quite well. Even with Hyper-Threading, 4 cores may simply not cut it. By pushing more cores to mainstream users, Intel is also pushing software developers who have generally been loath to make their software more-multithreaded. Another reason is that by 10nm, Intel will have enough space and cost savings to allow for 6 and even 8 cores to be cheap enough to produce. 10nm will be 4 times smaller than the 32nm process, allowing for many more chips per wafer.
Finally, 2017 is also the year that AMD will launch their Zen architecture. Set to provide a 40% IPC over current Excavator chips, the new lineup is set to arrive on a 1x nm process and feature up to 8/16 cores + SMT (AMD’s Hyper-Threading) on the mainstream platform.It may be that Intel perceives Zen may be a threat to their mainstream platform and is taking proper precautions. Whatever the reason, 2017 looks to be a really interesting year for CPUs, with major product introductions from both camps.
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