Intel microcode update docs tip off possible ninth-gen Core CPUs


As part of its latest microcode update guidance document for the Spectre vulnerability, Intel may have intentionally or inadvertently tipped off the existence of several new Core processors. The microcode update guidance reveals that the Core i5-9400, Core i5-9400T, Core i5-9500, Core i5-9600, and Core i5-9600K are in the pipe. 

While I initially referred to these parts as "ninth-gen" Core CPUs, the company itself is classifying these chips as an extension of the existing eighth-gen Core family in its documents. If that's true, it'd be the first time in a long time that the first digit of the company's CPU model numbers didn't refer to the chip's generation—a practice Intel itself suggests is the proper one. Those chips will all use the current Coffee Lake die in a so-called "6+2" configuration, or six CPU cores and Gen9.5 GT2 graphics.

Other potential "ninth-generation" Core products could include the Core i3-9000 and Core i3-9100. Those parts will be quad-core chips with GT2 graphics, if Intel's documents are final. The guidance also reiterates the existence of as-yet-unreleased eighth-generation Core parts, including the i5-8650 and i5-8650K. Those parts have been in Intel CPU lists since late last year, but they haven't come to market yet.

Sadly, this slip of the PostScript pen doesn't confirm or deny the veracity of recent rumors suggesting range-topping Core i9-9900K or Core i7-9700K chips to come. Those parts might rely on as-yet-undocumented 8+2 Coffee Lake silicon, and given that the company has said chips with Spectre mitigations in silicon are coming this year, the 8+2 parts may not require a microcode patch to protect against the vulnerability and therefore wouldn't be in this document. We'll just have to sit tight and see what happens later this year. Hat tip to David Schor for the heads-up.

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