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Oh No, Not Again: Coffee Lake Chips Need a New Motherboard

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Coffe Lake chips are coming and soon. At Computex this year Intel announced that these new chips will be available in time for the 2017 holiday season, which suggest somewhere in November or December.

There are going to be two hexacore i7 chips with hyperthreading, making for twelve hardware threads. There will also be an i5 without hyperthreading, but still six Coffee Lake cores.

Intel needs to bring these new chips to market fast in the face of AMDís Ryzen onslaught. AMD has now made mainstream chips with more than four cores the norm and Intel has to play catchup to that public perception.

How Fast Exactly?
We donít have any idea how much better the per-core performance will be on the new chips, but current Intel chips are faster than Ryzen if you compare them clock-for-clock and core-for-core, so Intel doesnít have to improve things there. They just need to up the core count.

However, these new chips will be faster in those terms and the clock speeds look quite healthy. Reportedly the i5 will run at 3.4 Ghz x 6 cores. Thatís going to put up quite a fight in the mainstream segment.

The Bad News
OK, so itís great that these new chips will be faster than the old ones and have enough threads to compete with Ryzen. Intel have also pushed their release of the desktop chips up in the face of AMD retaking market share. So weíre getting them a little sooner than we would have, probably.

We also expect that these new chips are going to be priced lower than Intel would have it AMD didnít step up to the plate recently. Thatís all great.

The bad news is that if you want to have some of that Coffee Lake goodness you need to buy a whole new motherboard. Itís not clear why Intel has done this, but itís pretty much an old trick of theirs. Forcing people to invest in whole new system. It made sense from a business point of view while Intel was the only game in town, but that can't be the whole story now that AMD is back.

Technicalities
So we have to assume that thereís some technical reason for the new platform to handle the six-core chips. Presumably Intel never planned to have more than quad-cores in these desktop systems, so the power management components are probably not up to it.

The socket in question will still be 1156, but according to Asrock new motherboards with a new chipset will be your only path to Coffee Lake.
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