Intel has announced a brand new range of 8th Gen CPUs - the X Series, with up to 18 cores, equalling 36 threads, on one chip. The new X Series is scalable, ranging from 4 to 18 cores. This marks a departure from the separate i3, i5 and i7 processor families, though these still exist under the X Series banner.
A New Board
A new chip design obviously means a new chip socket design and motherboard chipset standard. To this end, Intel have also announced the LGA 2066 socket and X229 chipsets, meaning that chipsets and motherboards are standardised, regardless of what level of performance you have. This is a really big deal, as it eliminates the wide variety of standards that third party hardware manufacturers have had to previously meet, and boils them down to one.
- Up to 10 percent faster multithread performance over previous generation
- Up to 15 percent faster single-thread performance over previous generation
- Up to 44 lanes of PCIe 3.0 directly connected to the CPUs and Thunderbolt™ 3 technology
- Intel® Core™ i9 Extreme Edition processor featuring 18 cores and 36 threads
- Scalable desktop platform with 18, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, and 4- core options
- Intel® X299 chipset with improved I/O capabilities
- LGA 2066 socket for Intel® Core™ X-series processor family
- Additional system performance and responsiveness with Intel® Optane™ memory support
- Improved Intel® Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 for single and multithreaded performance
- Up to 4 channel DDR4-2666 memory support, support for the Intel® Extreme Memory Profile for DDR4
- Fully unlocked for performance tuning
- Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology
What Does This Mean For Pro Tools Users?
This is a really big deal for Pro Tools and Avid. It does away with all the different chipset and IO standards that third party manufacturers have had to meet, which can only mean improved availability and scalability for those with varying budgets. It also leaves the upgrade door well and truly open, meaning that you can invest in as powerful a system as you can afford at the time, safe in the knowledge that you can easily upgrade at a later date.
This much processing power on one chip also means that software developers can really harness the power in the Native domain. With this many threads available, it brings third party DSP grade performance back on board the Native system. We've recently seen what's possible in this respect with the latest version of Studio One - with this much power on tap, expect other DAW brands to be close behind.
They have also standardised Thunderbolt™ 3 technology across the range, and made the standard license free, which improves compatibility and the increases the likelihood of manufacturers including this standard on their interfaces. It also means the possiblity of higher IO counts on Native systems.
Could This Be The Basis Of The New Modular Design Mac Pro?
From my own personal point of view, this would be the most sensible thing for Apple to base their new Mac Pro Modular Design Desktop on. Intel have also launched the Compute Card range, which further develops on Modular computing, bringing additional computing power on a slot-in portable platform - more on that soon. Adopting the X Series technology would enable Apple to deliver a really wide range of machines, to suit all pockets.
Bye Bye HDX?
With this much processing power and high speed IO available, external DSP makes increasingly less sense. The HDX card could be replaced with something like the HD Native card, which is essentially a high speed audio IO portal with no proprietary DSP, which simply gets audio in and out of the Native system. If Apple were to adopt the X Series then it would make life a lot easier for all third party hardware manufacturers.
We'll be keeping a close eye on developments and will keep you posted!