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A new ultra-fast processor by Intel — at last

By Jean-Claude Elias - Jun 01,2017 - Last updated at Jun 01,2017

If sheer computer power processing is what you get your technology kicks from, the announcement this week of Intel’s latest X-Series processors should sound like very good news to you. The company is still and by far the main provider of processors for computers of all kinds, from laptops all the way up to servers, with desktops in the middle.

It has been now some four to five years that the mainstream market has been steadily evolving around Intel’s three families of very stable and reliable Core processors for laptops and desktops computers: the i3, the i5 and the i7, from inexpensive entry-level to high-end powerful, respectively.

The good thing about the Core i3, i5 and i7 is that they serve the needs of the overwhelming number of consumers rather well, and are nicely priced. Moreover, and given the number of years since they were first introduced in 2010, everyone knows them well. Users feel comfortable with products they have learnt to know, to depend on and to easily choose from.

The problem is that the market, vendors and consumers alike, get bored after a while. Just like in any field, there is the fashion factor in the world of IT too. Intel Core series was getting somewhat old, even if in pure technical terms it still serves the purpose perfectly.

One element that perhaps prevented Intel from introducing new processor series before this year is the fact that users’ concerns for the last few years have been anything but the need for faster machines. Essentially they would care for and worry about the speed of the Internet connection, data security, cloud storage and processing, email reliability, protection from viruses and hacking, longer life batteries for mobile devices, etc.

Add to that the fact that tablets and smartphones (devices that for most do not run with Intel processors) have taken a substantial share of the laptops and desktops computers market (devices that typically run with Intel processors), and you understand why Intel was in no special hurry to bring about faster new processors.

So what does the new X-Series bring? Simply, faster processing and increased ability at treating an even larger number of tasks and applications at one time, much more than the fastest current Core i7. Five to ten times faster if you really want to know. The fastest of the X-Series has 18 cores, thus acting like 18 computers working at the same time. Sounds attractive, doesn’t it?

Why do we need that kind of power and who really needs it?

The questions are purely rhetorical, we all and constantly need faster technology. And it’s not only to impress but also because operating systems and software applications are becoming heavier to process. We also tend to run an increasingly larger number of applications at one time.

However, Intel seems and for now at least, to target those users who are hard-core gamers and IT professionals, the two categories of consumers who indeed crave for and can truly benefit from monster processing power. As for those whose main activity consists of sending regular email, browsing the web for news or online shopping and who handle simple Word documents and light Excel sheets, they will never be able to tell the difference between a middle of the road Core i5 and the new muscular X-Series.

Last but not least is price; and it is not a minor point. Prices posted on the web by cnet.com show that they range from $1,000 and $2,000. This is only for the processor, the small chip that plugs on the motherboard. This price comes to increase the cost of the entire computer in a noticeable manner. So don’t sell your old laptop yet and wait till the X-Series really hits the market and becomes the mainstream processor offering. By 2019-2020 prices of the X-Series should be reduced by at least 50 per cent.

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