CHIPMAKER Intel's upcoming Coffee Lake CPUs will require new motherboards based on the forthcoming Z370 chipset.
This means that that PC owners looking to upgrade will be forced to rip out and replace their motherboards as well, and it will also further complicate the motherboard market and add to PC makers' costs.
The admission was made by motherboard maker ASRock, in a tweet to a customer enquiry: "No, Coffee Lake CPU is not compatible with 200-series motherboards."
Instead, Coffee Lake parts will need to be plugged-in to motherboards bearing forthcoming Z370 chipsets, which are still under development and expected to arrive in the fourth quarter.
The ASRock tweet was later deleted, while neither Intel nor ASRock will comment further.
The Coffee Lake-codenamed CPUs are the third to be built to a 14nm process architecture on the ‘optimisation' stage of Intel's relatively new Process-Architecture-Optimisation (PAO) development model and follows on from Skylake and Kaby Lake.
It will be followed by Cannonlake, which Intel will build on the 10nm process architecture, as the firm had originally planned to do with Coffee Lake, before delaying the shift due to the technical challenges involved.
Desktop Coffee Lake Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs are expected to feature six cores, with the Core i7 branded parts also offering hyper-threading. The devices will offer clock rates of between 2.8GHz and 3.7GHz. Core i3 Coffee Lake parts, meanwhile, will feature four cores.
The extra cores and threads will help Intel respond to the challenge posed by AMD's Ryzen microprocessors, which pound-for-pound offer more cores and threads than Intel's current line-up.
AMD parts currently comprise seven of the top-15 biggest selling microprocessors on Amazon.co.uk, with the Ryzen 5 1600 and Ryzen 7 1700 the second and fourth most popular CPUs at the time of writing.
Coffee Lake has already been delayed until the fourth quarter of 2017, in addition to the decision to stick to the 14nm node rather than shifting to the challenging 10nm node.
It's unclear why Coffee Lake might require the new chipset. It could simply be down to differences in power management or other features on-board the microprocessor, or a legacy of Intel's plans to use it to spear-head the shift to 10nm. However, it might also be a hard-headed business decision to further segment the market. µ
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