The rushed release of Intel's eighth-generation Core Coffee Lake processors late last year was almost certainly a reaction to the splash that rival AMD made in launching its up-to-eight-core Ryzen desktop chips in March 2017. Even with the Ryzen-matching performance of the Core i7-8700K, many were left wondering when Intel would truly match AMD's core counts on its mainstream desktop platform. A set of confidential documents in the silicon maker's Coffee Lake S technical library suggests that Intel loyalists wishing for eight cores and 16 threads without the expense of the company's X299 platform might have new options in the near future.
The trio of documents, titled "Coffee Lake S 8+2 DDR4 UDIMM Reference Validation Platform Technical Documentation Kit," "Coffee Lake S6+2 S8+2 Processor Line Ballout, Signal, and Mechanical Package," and "Coffee Lake S 8+2 Processor Power Integrity Model," are not available for us mere mortals to view, but the very titles of the documents suggest future products with eight processor cores and GT2 integrated graphics are in the works. The first document shows a last-updated date all the way back in December of last year, suggesting that Intel's manufacturing partners have been preparing for future eight-core parts for at least a few months.
For reference, current Gen9 GT2 IGPs contain either 23 or 24 execution units and are dubbed UHD Graphics 620 or UHD Graphics 630 depending on application. The EU count of future processor generations could change. Also unknown are the platform requirements of hypothetical eight-core mainstream desktop Core CPUs. The apparent beefing-up in power delivery between the Z270 boards that came along with Kaby Lake CPUs and the Z370 motherboards required for Coffee Lake chips might still not be enough to support rumored eight-core processors. Indeed, rumors of a Z390 chipset have swirled since before the launch of Z370 motherboards back in October of last year.
These documents, combined with remarks in some of Biostar's product manuals last week, suggest that the Z370 chipset's reign atop Intel's mainstream desktop chipset hierarchy may be even shorter than Z270's 10-month term. For now, all we have is more smoke to go with a potential fire.