Long the king of High-End Desktop (HEDT) computing, Intel’s once undisputed position has become a much more awkward one since the arrival of a resurgent AMD and its Threadripper CPUs.
X299 is Dead!
The header says it all: X299 is dead, at least in the original form that Intel launched it. Available for pre-order on the 26th of June, 2017 with the aim of being the fastest consumer/prosumer CPU platform on the planet, with the most PCIe lanes, Intel did accomplish that goal… For a short while.
The crown would not last long, as Intel would lose the title of “most PCIe lanes” when AMD released X399 on the 10th of August of 2017 (a mere 6 weeks later) but, the platform still held the world’s fastest HEDT CPU until AMD’s 2990WX was launched nearly a year later, in August of 2018. Unfortunately for AMD, the 2990WX+X399 combo wouldn’t quite take the crown away from Intel as Windows’ scheduler had issues with the AMD platform, keeping X299 on top for the fastest Windows platform available.
Intel’s loss of the HEDT war wouldn’t be fully realized until AMD released the Threadripper 3000 series, and finally, in one product release, X299 was obsoleted almost over night. Now with the launch of Zen 3, even the plebian consumer AM4 platform’s 16-core 5950X makes the newest 18-core CPU on the X299 platform, the 10980XE, pointless for all but 3 groups of people: overclockers that need more than 20 threads for benchmarks that can take advantage of them; people that need lots of PCIe lanes for fairly cheap; the people that need a lot of memory bandwidth.
But that is enough of the past, let’s look forward and see: What does Intel have coming out for HEDT?
Long Live X299!
In a word, nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Sorry for the letdown, but the sad truth is that Intel has nothing on their HEDT roadmap until Sapphire Rapids which is not releasing to the general public until 20231 at the earliest.
Now, I hear you over there screaming “But Cheese, what about Ice Lake! That is coming to HEDT right?” Unfortunately, none of the roadmaps I have seen have shown any sign of an Ice Lake HEDT product coming to market. The most likely reason for this are poor yields on the large Ice Lake dies.
Intel and HEDT: An on-again, off-again Relationship
So, it appears AMD has won this round. Intel has completely ceded the HEDT market to AMD until at least 2023 which begs two questions:
1. What will AMD do with HEDT and,
2. Can Intel recover in the HEDT market when Sapphire Rapids launches?
To answer the first question, Threadripper is not going anywhere soon, however, do not be surprised by future price increases. And to answer the second question, I do not believe that Intel can recover to the same near absolute stranglehold they had on the HEDT market, especially with Zen 4 coming out before Sapphire Rapids.
So… X299 is dead! Long live X299!
1New changes in Intel’s internal timelines made available to Chips and Cheese suggests that HEDT SPR may be available earlier than originally thought, in Q4 2022.