Rewind back to the launch of Intel’s 3rd generation processor, Ivy Bridge. Enthusiasts and gamers who overclock the top end model were a little disappointed with the maximum CPU frequency that could be achieved. What used to be a 5.0-5.2 GHz ceiling on Sandy Bridge became 4.8-5.0 GHz on Ivy Bridge, and there was more of a silicon lottery as to whether the user got a good overclocking chip or not. Then move forward to Haswell, and the situation compounded in a similar way. 4.6 GHz to 4.8 GHz became the norm on Haswell, a 200 MHz drop which absorbed any IPC increase the new architecture had.

One of the reasons that enthusiasts attributed to this decrease in overclocking was the thermal interface material between the die on the package and the heatspreader. Various experiments by enthusiasts with removing the heatspreader and replacing the TIM inside the CPU to provide better contact and heat transfer characteristics. The adventurous users even used metallic binding material, but the benefits were published for all to see – depending on how good (or bad) the CPU was in the first place, up to a 20ºC drop was seen for overclocked processors at full load. 

As part of the Intel press conference call this week, it was announced that a new Haswell processor will come to market to help adjust some of these issues. This new processor will be a fully unlocked Haswell core, codename ‘Devil’s Canyon’ and should be out mid-year (note, Computex is in June). The features that Intel is promoting are the improved thermal interface material, an updated packaging and 9-series chipset support.

‘Improved TIM’ is a little ambiguous – whether this means a more substantial amount of goop under the heatspreader or a proper metalling binding to the heatspreader I do not know, although I have asked Intel. Updated packaging could lead to a thicker/thinner heatspreader, focusing more on the hot areas of the die, or a different binding agent between the PCB and the heatspreader. It may turn out easier to remove the heatspreader if needed, or harder. The final comment had me a little confused, saying 9-series support but not saying anything about the 8-series. I would assume that as a Haswell processor this new SKU would have 8-series support, although Intel have told us that this new CPU is not targeted at 8-series.

There is no word if this is going to be placed at the same frequency as the i7-4770K or the i7-4771/4790, the name or the rated TDP. Intel will let us know nearer to release, and as soon as we get this information and are able to share with you, we will.



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  • brkbeatjunkie - Monday, March 24, 2014 - link

    I hope it's not just more thermal paste. I've seen too many computer manufactures glob it on hoping to achieve better results, only to find their products getting even hotter because if you increase the space between the heat sink and the chip too much ie too much good in between, it greatly diminishes the ability do the heat sink to cool properly.

    In this case, it's quality over quantity. I hope they figure that out. Nudge nudge apple
  • DMCalloway - Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - link

    This is just great. Finally Intel decides to fix the TIM situation for loyal Intel enthusiasts. The fact that this new SKU is not targeted at 8 series chipset should not come as a surprise.... remember what happened to TRIM support for RAID 0 SSD's.... yeah, only from the 7 series chipset on. Some of us are having to spend more and more to ride the bleeding edge wave.
  • BadThad - Wednesday, March 26, 2014 - link

    I'm praying that AMD comes around and makes a processor that clock for clock beats Intel. There is just not nearly enough pressure on Intel to make/release anything significant. The entire i series has been nothing but minor bumps to create more profits.

    AMD - PLEASE bring us another Intel killer like the Athlon!

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