Intel Roadmap Leak Shows HEDT Platform Refresh In Q3, No Comet Lake-S Until 2020
It perhaps isn't surprising that, in the wake of coverage for AMD's rip-roaring Zen 2 CPU launch, information on Intel's plans for the next 12 months is starting to leak out - either intentionally or otherwise. The latest cache of news comes via XFastest.com, who appear to have acquired Intel consumer desktop roadmap briefing slides for Q3-2019 to Q2-2020 and an additional overview of Coffee Lake's eventual replacement.
The most pertinent disclosure is that Coffee Lake's replacement in Intel's mainstream desktop segment, codenamed Comet Lake, is not scheduled until either the very tail of Q4 2019 or Q1 2020. During 2020's first two quarters additional members of the Comet Lake processor family will be launched, filling out all tiers of the mainstream desktop segment from low power through to enthusiast. It will be headed by a flagship 10-core/20-thread part to compete with AMD's upcoming 16-core/3-thread Ryzen 9 3950X.
Comet Lake-S processors ('S' denoting mainstream desktop SKUs), will launch alongside an Intel 400-series motherboard chipset that incorporates a new LGA 1200 socket. Next-gen CPUs and motherboards are therefore not likely to be backwards compatible with Coffee Lake-S processors or 300-series motherboards. According to the slide 400-series chipsets will be slightly more feature-rich than the 300-series, in part through the addition of six more PCIe 3.0 lanes (to a total of 30), but core aspects such as the CPU-to-Chipset DMI link remain unchanged.
A new 10-core/20-thread flagship in the segment should help to improve Intel's multi-threaded workload capability in mainstream segments, and unlocked 'K' SKUs will be part of the lineup. In a not unexpected twist however said flagship processor will be rated at 125W, >30% higher than the 95W TDP of the i9-9900K. It's also speculated that Intel will be offering hyperthreading more broadly down the range, including 4c/8t and 6c/12t processors in the low-power and mainstream tiers. This would mirror AMD's approach where Simultaneous Multithreading is almost ubiquitous among 3000-series CPUs.
Intel's approach and desktop feature-set isn't aligning with AMD's in all aspects. If the slides are accurate then PCIe 4.0 will remain exclusive to AMD in the mainstream consumer segment for some time to come, and Comet Lake is still manufactured using Intel's (now highly optimised) 14nm process.
More change is expected to occur in the HEDT segment by Q4 2019, where the Basin Falls platform will give way to Glacier Falls and refreshed Cascade Lake-X CPUs. The Q4-2019 lineup for Cascade Lake-X will feature an 18-core CPU at the top-end, but unlike the mainstream platform there will be continuity with the motherboard chipset as X299/LGA2066 will not be supplanted.
While these slides do no directly contradict the previous alleged roadmap leak in April it does indicate an accelerated timetable for Comet Lake-S's launch. Desktop releases after Q2 2020 are not covered, however a new CPU and motherboard platform in Q1 would mean that the subsequent generation of mainstream desktop CPUs will not make an appearance before Q3 2020. A schedule of 2022 and later for Intel's 10nm desktop CPU is still not off the cards, by which time AMD may have progressed to TSMC's forthcoming 5nm process.
All that being said, it's best to take all rumours with a healthy pinch of salt.