Update January 24, 2017: Fresh rumours from the East are claiming Intel will be unveiling their ultra high-end X299 platform, with 10-core Skylake-X chips, in August this year.
Read more: the best CPUs for gaming.
The rumour has come from Taiwanese tech site, BenchLife, who say the top-end Intel chips could be set to appear at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany at the tail end of August.
Personally I'm not convinced Intel would launch a new 10-core überchip at a gaming-specific show given that such $1,700 processors are more aimed at content producers than gamers. And there's also the fact the Intel Developer Forum is taking place between August 15 and August 17 in San Francisco, which is normally the event where they like to show off their most advanced new CPU tech.
That's where my money would be.
Still, I'm with BenchLife when they say they're expecting some motherboard manufacturers to be displaying X299 boards all over Computex in Taiwan at the end of May, beginning of June.
Whether it's behind closed doors or bold-as-brass on their Nangang stands those excitable mobo types will be keen to show off the most advanced chipset around.
Previous story November 2, 2016: Intel have confirmed their next generation of high performance übercore CPUs will be running on the new X299 motherboard platform.
The announcement has come from leaked product change notification (PCN) document that has been sent out to Intel's partners. The document contains details of a change to the transportation of the platform controller hubs (PCH) for various chipsets. The upcoming 200-series Kaby Lake chipsets are all pretty well known, but there are two news ones that have cropped up - C422 and the X299.
C422 is likely to be for server and enterprise goodness, but the X299 chipset has to be for the upcoming Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X processor ranges.
As we've previously mentioned Intel are bringing both the high-end Skylake and Kaby Lake generations of chips to fruition at the same time, meaning that both mainstream and high-end processor lines are going to be using the same CPU technology generation for the first time. Well, for a short time until Cannonlake tips up at the end of next year...
The high-end versions of Intel’s Skylake and Kaby Lake chips are set to arrive hand-in-hand in late 2017, but with a whole new naming convention. And that’s not even the weirdest bit.
As if it wasn’t already confusing enough, Intel are looking to make their processor lineups even more baffling next year, so says a report from Benchlife. Right now Intel’s most advanced CPU architecture is not the design they use to create their most powerful desktop parts - the high-end Broadwell-E processors are actually an architectural generation behind their more mainstream Skylake siblings.
So we’re still waiting for Skylake-E to appear, replace the current Broadwell-E parts and give our high-end desktops a boost. Except it’s rumoured not to be arriving until well into 2017 now, and will not actually be called Skylake-E. According to the Benchlife report Intel are ditching their old high-end nomenclature, instead introducing Broadwell-E’s 14nm successor as Skylake-X.
We’ve gone from Extreme to eXtreme then. Great. Edgy.
And with Skylake-X not scheduled to land until 2017 we’ll already have the upcoming Kaby Lake CPU refresh - the mainstream desktop successor to Skylake due this year - processing away in our rigs. That will leave Intel’s most powerful consumer chip, the $1,700, ten-core/twenty-thread, Broadwell-E Core i7-6950X, two generations behind for nearly a full year.
So far, so confusing. But wait, it gets better. Or worse, depending on whether you find Intel’s classic marketing obfuscation hilariously backward or just bafflingly obscure.
Skylake-X is reportedly not going to appear on its lonesome at the tail-end of 2017. Intel are apparently looking to level up the architectural disparity by releasing Kaby Lake-X at the same time. Both new processor families are due to operate on a new high-end desktop platform called Basin Falls, with a new LGA 2066 socket, which will be the platform for their top chips all the way to the 10nm Cannonlake-X process shrink.
But why release both Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X chips at the same time? On the mainstream desktop Kaby Lake is going to be like the Devil’s Canyon refresh we saw with the Core i7-4790K, a slight architectural tweak taking advantage of a mature production process to boost clockspeeds. With Kaby Lake-X though it’s set to be a whole different ball-game.
Skylake-X will be the direct successor to the current Broadwell-E range, and will house chips with six, eight and ten HyperThreaded cores, a TDP of 140W and quad-channel DDR4 support. The full high-end enchilada. The concurrent Kaby Lake-X range though will be restricted to four HyperThreaded cores, a TDP of 112W and only operate with dual-channel DDR4 memory support. In other words, exactly what the standard Kaby Lake range is meant to bring to the mainstream.
So if you want to have an expensive high-end motherboard paired up with a processor which almost entirely fails to take advantage of the platform’s major benefits then the Kaby Lake-X range looks like it’s going to be for you. You freak.
As with any industry rumour report, my sodium levels are rising more and more as I write this, but we’ve seen Intel do some crazy things so I wouldn’t put it past them...