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Intel unveils Devil's Canyon, its first 4GHz CPU, plus a 20th-anniversary Pentium processor

Michael Brown | June 4, 2014
Intel's fifth-generation Core processor family--code-named Broadwell--might be late, but the company has cooked up a couple of brand-new Haswell-class desktop CPUs that PC enthusiasts are sure to dig. Code-named Devil's Canyon, Intel unveiled the all-new Core i7-4790K and Core i5-4690K processors at Computex on Tuesday (Taiwan time). Intel is also marking the 20th anniversary of its Pentium processor by introducing the all-new Pentium G3258.

Intel's fifth-generation Core processor family — code-named Broadwell — might be late, but the company has cooked up a couple of brand-new Haswell-class desktop CPUs that PC enthusiasts are sure to dig. Code-named Devil's Canyon, Intel unveiled the all-new Core i7-4790K and Core i5-4690K processors at Computex on Tuesday (Taiwan time). Intel is also marking the 20th anniversary of its Pentium processor by introducing the all-new Pentium G3258.

The Core i7-4790K is notable for its ability to run all four of its cores at a base clock frequency of 4.0GHz. Other Intel CPUs have been able to reach this frequency on one or several cores for brief periods (a burst mode Intel identifies as "Turbo Frequency"), but this new part will run that fast consistently and boast a turbo frequency up to 4.4GHz.

The new Core i5-4690K, meanwhile, will operate at a base clock speed of 3.5GHz with a turbo frequency up to 3.9GHz. Both new CPUs have unlocked clock multipliers, which will enable the end user to push these chips' operating frequencies even higher.

In an embargoed briefing last week, Intel VP Lisa Graff said Devil's Canyon was developed on a very fast track, starting in December, 2013. "We gave our engineering team a target," Graff said, "we wanted a part that could run at 4GHz on all four cores. But we also put a lot of restrictions on them: You can't change the cooling solution, you can't change the socket, and it has to work with our existing chipsets.'"

Works with existing motherboards

That means the new parts will plug into existing motherboards with LGA 1150 sockets and either Intel's Z87 or 9-series chipsets. Graff said that motherboard manufacturers will need to tweak their Z87 boards to accommodate the new CPUs, in part because the chips' TDP (thermal design profile) has edged up from 84 to 88 watts.

Intel's engineers "hit the two things you need to address to crank up the frequency," Graff said, "You need to make some packaging changes, so they added a huge number of capacitors to deliver smooth power. And they produced a new thermal solution that works with existing cooling solutions."

The new thermal solution Graff spoke of is known by its very long acronym: NGPTIM (Next-Generation Polymer Thermal Interface Material). It's essentially grease that the factory applies to the heat spreader housing the processor.

When a heatsink and fan (in an air-cooled system) or a water block (in a liquid-cooling system) is clamped to the CPU, the grease spreads over the top of the chip's heat spreader and helps transfer heat from the chip package to the heatsink or water block so it can be dissipated.

 

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