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Intel announced the new Comet Lake desktop chips on April 30. Earlier that month, it introduced new Comet Lake mobile processors for laptops and other smaller PCs. We are not going into the laptop side here. However, Intel said more than 100 laptops will be released this year with the new 10th generation processors. The desktop processors are expected to roll out in May 2020.
Comet Lake CPUs have many cores. The Core i9-10900K is the top chip, with 10 cores and 20 threads. CPU cores process instructions from the system and let your PC work its magic. The more cores there are, the more instructions a system can process simultaneously. The system will also perform better.
The only problem is that software developers have to take advantage of all those beautiful cores. Many don't, because they don't need that much power, or because their software isn't optimized for mega core machines.
But if your workload includes heavy apps, such as photo or video editing, or games, all those cores can help.
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Hyperthreading (Almost) All the Way Down
Hyper-Threading is Intel's name for splitting one core into two virtual ones. As for the operating system, you get two cores for the price of one. This allows your machine to process instructions faster. In the past, Intel was stingy with Hyper-Threading on desktops and limited to Core i7 and Core i9 processors.
For Comet Lake, however, you will find Hyper-Threading all the way back to Core i3 and Pentium parts. In general, Core i3 parts with Comet Lake-S have four cores and eight threads, Core i5 six and twelve, Core i7 eight and sixteen, and Core i9's ten and twenty.
So much hyperthreading is huge and means there can be surprising deals for lower level CPUs for budget games. When Comet Lake reviews hit the desktop, bargain hunters will want to read them carefully for performance and price details and the tradeoffs with Core i3 processors.
CPU makers are generally trying to make CPUs backward compatible with older motherboards for a few generations, but that doesn't last forever. At some point, the demands of new processors require new motherboard CPU sockets and thus new motherboards. That time has come with Intel Comet Lake.
Comet Lake-S uses a new LGA1200 socket. The new motherboards will be easy to recognize as they have specific designations, including Z490, B460, H470 and H410.
Improvements in Heat Transfer Efficiency
The biggest problem every computer system has to solve is how to cool. When computer components get too hot, their safety mechanisms begin to degrade performance. In other words, they slow down to avoid physical damage. The key is, therefore, that these components transfer heat as efficiently as possible so that fans or liquid coolers can dissipate the heat before it goes too far.
Intel & # 39; s new 10th generation CPUs should be better at transferring heat. Intel has made some internal adjustments to increase the dimensions of the Integrated Heat Diffuser (IHS). The IHS is the part that dissipates heat from the CPU. The larger size should more efficiently keep the heat away from the bowels of the CPU and result in better performance.
Disable threads for less heat
As we discussed earlier, the advantage of Intel's Hyper-Threading is that it allows the CPU to run faster. As usual with PC hardware, the disadvantage is that higher performance comes at the expense of generating more heat.
With Comet Lake, Intel makes it possible to disable Hyper-Threading per core. So, instead of one core working as two, one will work as one. Because fewer cores work, the CPU generates less heat. The working cores can perform at higher levels for a longer period of time with less heat.
It is somewhat unclear how this will all work in practice. However, it seems that disabling Hyper-Threading requires a dip in the motherboard's BIOS instead of a simple switch in Windows 10.
Thermals Through the Roof
It's a good thing Intel does all that work has done in terms of heat transfer efficiency because some of these CPUs can get very hot. The premium Comet Lake processors – the Core i9-10900K, the Core i7-10700K and the Core i5-10600K – can generate up to 125 watts of heat under an intense workload. The measurement of this is called thermal design power or TDP.
All this just means that PCs need a capable cooler to keep the higher Comet Lake monsters from getting too hot.
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Breakthrough of 5.0 GHz
CPU speeds are measured in gigahertz. In general, the higher the clock speed, the better a CPU performs. There are a few major caveats to that statement, but we won't get into that here.
Consumer CPUs have usually not exceeded 5 GHz, but Intel has found a way. Comet Lake CPUs use a new technology called Thermal Velocity Boost (TVB). This will push a single core to 5.3 GHz when the processor temperature is below 70 degrees Celsius. That single core will be able to perform at a higher level for short bursts, which can aid in gaming and other demanding applications.
The Core i9 Comet Lake desktop CPUs will also have a feature called Turbo Boost 3.0 Max. This finds the two top performing cores (not all perform equally well) on a processor and pushes their speeds a bit higher for certain uses, such as gaming. Again, the result is a faster processor under certain workloads.
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PCIe Overclocking, Not PCIe 4.0
Some Comet Lake motherboards will be able to overclock PCIe jobs to get more performance from components, such as graphics cards. This possibility differs per motherboard, since it is up to the manufacturer to realize this function. This feature is primarily for extreme overclockers – the hot rods of the PC universe.
Something the new Intel CPUs won't have is PCIe 4.0 capability – they stick with PCIe 3.0 instead. PCIe 4.0 helps components such as graphics cards and storage drives perform at the double speed they currently do. However, all components – from the graphics card to the motherboard and processor – must support PCIe 4.0.
AMD already supports PCIe 4.0 in its Ryzen 3000 processors and X570 motherboards, but Intel has chosen not to follow that path yet. This is not unreasonable as AMD's X570 cards require additional cooling to handle this new version of PCIe.
RELATED: PCIe 4.0: What & # 39; s New and Why It Matters  Still, some high-end, Comet Lake compatible motherboards anticipate the upgrade and will have PCIe 4.0 built in. This makes it a bit future-proof, but they only perform at PCIe 4.0 levels if Intel supports the new standard.
Those are the main features of the upcoming Comet Lake CPUs. Other goodies are included, such as firmware for faster Ethernet and RAM, and Wi-Fi 6 integration.
It will be interesting to see how this range of CPUs compete with AMD's Ryzen 3000 processors.