Intel on Monday hosted its annual Fall Desktop Launch Event in New York City, where the chip-maker showcased a lineup of new desktop CPUs from its upcoming i9 and Xeon ranges, including one 28-core Xeon processor geared towards professional users, a family of high-specification Core i9 chips which could see their way into Apple’s upcoming “modular” Mac Pro, and more.
First and foremost among the offerings, we have the Intel Xeon W-3175X, which is a 28-core, 56-thread chip built and intended for running professional applications. The CPU cores are clocked at 3.1GHz, however they’re capable of reaching up to 4.3GHz when boost mode is enabled.
According to Intel, the chip features a six-channel DDR4 memory controller, is capable of supporting up to 512GB of memory, and includes 68 PCIe lanes — 44 of which are located on the CPU, itself, providing a wealth of opportunities for connecting up with add-on hardware.
While the Xeon W-3175X is a performance powerhouse, Intel cautions that the chip generates quite a bit of heat with its Thermal Design Point (TDP) of 265 Watts.
Notably, the new 28-core Xeon chip represents Intel’s follow-up to the 18-core W-series chip it introduced last year — the same 18-core chip which debuted as a top-of-the-line, $2,400 upgrade option on Apple’s ultra high-performance $5,000 iMac Pro.
Given the proportionately higher performance (and heat production) of the new 28-core CPU in relation to the 18-core CPU available as an iMac Pro upgrade, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see Apple offer the 28-core option for iMac Pro.
More likely, though still unconfirmed, is that Intel’s 28-core Xeon W-3175 could debut as an upgrade option on Apple’s upcoming “modular” Mac Pro refresh.
As far back as 2016, Apple began dropping hints that it was working on a completely new modular-designed form-factor for its highest-tier Mac Pro computer, which according to the latest rumors, was supposed to debut sometime by the end of 2018.
With 2018 winding down now, it’s looking more likely that we’ll see (or at least hear more) of the new Mac Pro sometime early next year. But, as it pertains to Intel’s 28-core chip: depending on how the Mac Pro is designed and configured, modularly speaking, it might be able to provide sufficient pass-through cooling should Apple decide upon using Intel’s 28-core CPU.
There’s currently no word on pricing for the Xeon W-3175X, but Intel says it will be going on sale by December of this year.
i9 CPUs and the Future of Mac
Alongside the 28-core powerhouse, Intel showcased a trio of 9th-generation Masthead Core i9 processors. The most powerful of which is the 8-core, 16-thread Core i9-9900K. It features a base clock speed of 3.6GHz, which rises up to a blazingly-fast 5GHz under boost mode.
The i9 chip is joined by a similarly-spec’d i7-9700K, which is able to reach 4.9GHz under boost mode, as well as a 6-core Core i5-9600K, which touts a base clock-speed of 3.7GHZ and a boosted clock of 4.6GHz.
While they’re all powerful and represent Intel’s latest lineup of next-generation processors, it’s worth noting that given the i9 trio’s TDP of 95W, they are unlikely to be considered by Apple for future iMacs and MacBooks, either, simply because of their high heat production.
However, Apple’s been rumored to be working on its own in-house CPUs which could debut in future iMacs, MacBooks and MacBook Pros — but only time will tell when those models launch and how they’ll be configured.