Intel's New CPUs Appear, Some Sans Hyperthreading

Image: Intel / Project Alloy

We're halfway through the year, which means it's about time for some new CPUs to show up. Figures from Intel's next series have appeared online, and some of the CPUs are missing a familiar feature.

There's been some chatter going around the tech world for a little while that Intel — not long after releasing their anniversary edition CPU — will ship three new 9000 K-series CPUs.

The quixotic part: the new i5 and i7 CPUs, according to Taiwanese tech site Coolaler, won't have hyperthreading.

Image: Coolaler

That's backed up by some benchmarks that reporters have found floating about in the SiSoft Sandra database. The database was down at the time of writing, but Guru3D snapped a shot of the i7-9700K, the middle CPU of the three.

Image: Guru3D

In the brackets under the Result ID, you'll see 8C, which refers to 8 cores, while the 8T in the capacity column refers to 8 threads. The i9-9900K, meanwhile, looks like it'll have 8 cores and 16 threads — kind of necessary to combat the appeal of AMD's rising Ryzen wave.

Given that the i7 K-series chip won't have hyperthreading, it's a safe bet that the i5 won't either. But to illustrate why, a quick explanation of hyperthreading.

Hyperthreading has been a feature of Intel chips for aeons — since late 2002 for consumers, when it first appeared in the Pentium line — and it essentially allows an operating system to turn every physical core on a CPU as two cores.

The idea is to ensure your CPU doesn't waste time by intelligently scheduling tasks, although Linus from Linus Tech Tips has some more palatable analogies below.

The kicker with hyperthreading is that it's useful on applications that aren't that great at taking advantage of multiple cores — which games traditionally haven't been. They're getting better on that front, but you won't find Battlefield 5 or the next Assassin's Creed taxing all of your CPU cores as much as 3D rendering software or something like Adobe After Effects. What games tend to care more about is clock speeds — and Intel appears to have that advantage in the bag still.

So in that sense, the lack of hyperthreading on the i5 and i7-series CPU isn't actually that monumental a loss. It is a bit strange to see a feature depart after being a staple for more than over a decade. And it'll be concerning for those who game while also using more CPU intensive programs.

But as always, the proof will be in the pudding. The expectation is that we'll see the next Intel CPUs in the third quarter of this year — we'll keep you posted when more info comes to light.


Comments

    Hyperthreading could be seen as gaining about 10% of a full core at best. The i7 9700K looks like plenty of power to me, the i9 is the equivalent of an old Extreme chip and really only going to be useful for stuff like render farms and running VMs.

      For most highly parallel tasks, HT generally gains about 30% performance. Games generally don't fall into this category though.

      That said, given the prevalence of streaming, HT is quite applicable in that situation. I'd say the streamers may miss the feature if they don't have a hardware encoding option.

        Intel processors have had Quick Sync for hardware encoding / decoding of h264 since Sandy Bridge. Broadwell added VP8 and Skylake added partial HEVC and VP9, with Kaby Lake / Coffee Lake adding full VP9 and HEVC support. So as long as you're not one of the neckbeards that still runs Windows XP on modern hardware, you don't need this power for encoding / decoding in software, it's on the chip itself.

        Besides that, streaming video is not usually on the bleeding edge, even 4k is highly compressed. You don't need to throw 16 threads at it unless you're running a Plex server that's transcoding for like 10 people simultaneously.

    It's also worth noting that this is a rumor, not an official announcement, and the numbers may be made up. The clock speed on these things according to the chart is monstrous and I'm not sure how they could be squeezing an extra 2-4 cores onto the die while also increasing the clock speed that far. Normally adding cores increases heat significantly so it comes with a clock speed downgrade, not upgrade.

      The SiSoft Sandra listing takes it from "oh this is interesting" to more of a realistic territory. On top of that, this is the direction Intel has been going for the last couple of years. (See the 8086K, which boosts to 5GHz out of the box, albeit only for a single core.)

      The heat is going to be a significant factor though, you're right. I'll be interested to see what laptop makers do.

        They could easily get around this by using something other than chalk for the IHS TIM.

        They must have a really interesting trick to make it possible to get 8 cores running at 4.7 ghz in 95W TDP. Seeing some rumors that they're actually soldering the chip to the heat spreader rather than using thermal paste, which certainly would pull the heat out faster, but better hope that shit doesn't get too hot and melt the solder...

    Wonder if the die size is a bit bigger on the i9; duplicating the registers to allow for HT on 8 cores would take up a decent amount of space, as would the additional cache.

    taxing all of your CPU cores as much as 3D rendering software or something like Adobe After Effects.

    FYI, your info is a bit out of date. Adobe After Effects hasn't had multithreaded rendering since 2014 when they removed it entirely. Newer editions output renders significantly slower than older versions because they're constrained to single thread rendering.

    Hate to say it, but this is not exactly news. The i5 family traditionally lacked HT as it was a natural part of the progression:

    i3 (2 cores w/ HT for 4 execution threads), i5 (4 cores, no HT for 4 execution threads), i7 (4 cores, HT for 8 execution threads).

    (let's ignore laptop CPUs - they always broke the templated progression of features).

    This just seems to be the logical progression due to adding a new step to the line - move i7 to 8 cores, no HT, with the new i9 tier as 8 cores with HT.

    Hyperthreading isn't being disabled because of performance or who is or isn't a using it.

    It's being disabled because of the massive side channel that it opens.

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