Intel Devil’s Canyon CPU Unveiled – 9-Series Chipset; Gaming-Focused

By Published March 20, 2014 at 9:58 am
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At Intel’s press conference today near GDC’s bustling convention center, new details were spoiled pertaining to the Haswell revamp and its target market. We don’t yet have full specifications on the processors nor do we know if it is related to the recently-leaked prices for the i7-4790 and i5-4690 CPUs (and Intel exited the conversation when we pressed), but it is potentially of interest to enthusiasts.

The CPU has been code-named “Devil’s Canyon,” apparently selected through some process involving the company’s not-so-elusive gamers, and will be heading-up a re-issue of existing Haswell architecture. To be clear, Devil’s Canyon will remain on 22nm fabrication process and has no major architecture overhauls; the new CPU line has been tweaked in a few ways, but the most noteworthy is that Devil’s Canyon will require a 9-series platform for operation and, from what we were told, it will be socketed in a pin-out compatible with the impending desktop-class Broadwell chips. Assuming this information is correct, it’d mean you could buy a new platform for Devil’s Canyon – a Haswell revamp – and then drop in a Broadwell processor in the future. At least, that’s what we were told in the meeting.

I asked if TDP had been announced yet, to which Intel replied that such specifications are not public and that we should not expect this to be some sort of special overclocking chip; that system builders should not expect anything too different in terms of performance targets from what we saw with Haswell. Translation: This isn’t going to be Intel’s attempt at an enthusiast overclocking chip. It’s just a half-step up.

Members of the press were told that the CPU was designed by the company’s “most senior designers and engineers.” It was further highlighted that a revamp does not normally feature such significant changes as we’re seeing with Devil’s Canyon, which has been generally true for a number of years.

I’ve got the relevant portion of the conference embedded above – you’ll have to excuse the shaky-cam at some points (they told me we’d be filming the next Hunger Games, I was trying out for the role), but the audio is what you want. Here’s a quote:

“In the heart of our unlocked processor business, this is where we’ve put the most new investment. We’re going to come out with a – it’s 4th Gen Core, so it’s based on Haswell, but we’re making a number of changes and we typically do not do this. When we come out with a processor like Haswell, we don’t make any substantial changes until we come out with the next one. Several months ago, as we were stepping back and saying – ‘wow, we have this customer base and frankly we’re frustrating our most loyal customers because we’re not bringing them enough performance’ – so what can we do for that customer base [without intercepting] the next platform? This is the [product] we’re doing. It will be available 6-7 months after the time we conceived it, so pretty quick turn. We’ve spun the package, so we have a new package. We have new thermal interface material on it. It’ll be supported by the 9-series chipset, and this will bring you a really nice bump in base performance as well as overclock[ed]. […] We’ll come out with this in mid-14.”

“We are not messing with power just so you can overclock it. We’re doing the hard work just to crank up the performance.”

So there you have it. Pretty bland stuff right now. It could potentially be an interesting chip for mid-range and high-end gaming desktops and has a unique introduction of the 9-series chipset running what will become last-gen’s CPU, so that could yield small optimization gains as well.

On the whole, I was largely unimpressed with Intel’s presentation, but the above few minutes were of most interest and relevance. The rest was evangelizing about desktop computing’s health, all-in-one PCs, and something about tablets.

The release date for Intel’s Devil’s Canyon CPUs looks to be mid-2014.

- Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.

Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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