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May 12, 2014

Intel Devil's Canyon CPUs Should Reach 5 GHz on Normal Cooling

With the Haswell refresh line of central processing units from Intel mostly out, only the unlocked chips are left, the ones that are supposed to debut in the summer. The two main stars of that line are called Intel Core i7-4790K and Intel Core i5-4690K.

You might be familiar with the upcoming series of high-end chips by another name: Intel Devil's Canyon, or Haswell Refresh K-series. The K at the end of the name stands for unlocked multiplier, enabling essentially boundless overclocking support, though it's up to you to make sure you have liquid helium or nitrogen for cooling if you go overboard. The CPUs will have a high base performance as well, though. Let's start with the Core i7-4790K, since this is the flagship, the strongest chip that Intel will unveil this year. Well, unless Broadwell really does come forth before the end of December. The Core i7-4790K is the first 22nm consumer chip with a back clock of 4 GHz. The boost clock is quite high as well, at 4.4 GHz. For something with four cores and eight threads, that's a lot of power, especially on a TDP (thermal design power) of 88W. Finally, the HD 4600 integrated graphics processor is included, with its own frequency of 1250 MHz.

The other star chip, Core i5-4690K, is also a quad-core, but doesn't have Hyper-Threading according to the latest leaks. It is reasonably fast, though, at 3.5 GHz base and 3.9 GHz boost. The TDP and GPU are the same as on the Core i7-4770K. Both Devil's Canyon chips, and whatever peers they have, if any, use 3D Tri-gate transistor technology and a better thermal grease between the chip and IHS (Internal Heat Spreader). That was one of the problems with original Haswell, and prevented hardcore overclocking unless you risked prying the IHS off and cooling the chip directly.

Lots of things are being set up for this summer, and this processor series will make a fine pair, so to speak, with the next high-end video card from Advanced Micro Devices. AMD may not be able to once again challenge Intel on the high-end processor front until 2015 (good luck to Jim Keller and the Excavator), but it is leagues ahead of Intel on the graphics front. The perks of owning what used to be ATI. Anyway, by the time Intel's Core i7-4790K and Core i5-4690K CPUs make it to the market, AMD's Radeon R9 295X might be ready as well. A good fit for the sort of high-end computers that the Devil's Canyon can enable.

I've already covered pretty much every shred of information that exists in circulation right now on the Devil's Canyon CPUs. There is one thing that I didn't fully appreciate though.

More specifically, I didn't really realize the implications of a chip capable of reaching 4.4 GHz on the power of Turbo Boost alone. You see, the upcoming central processing unit, with its 88W TDP, 8 MB L3 cache memory and 4 GHz / 4.4 GHz clocks, can probably be overclocked to 5 GHz without even changing the cooler. Well, maybe you will need to buy a better air cooler, but that's the thing: until now, it was impossible to force a CPU to that speed without a liquid cooling system or liquid nitrogen baths. Or it was really hard and likely to make your chip burn out or melt in short order.

The folks at Expreview believe the 5 GHz air-based overclocking is now possible, and that makes me wonder just how ludicrously high the performance can be pushed with liquid cooling help. No doubt, we'll get the answer to that question just weeks after the processors come out this summer. These things tend to happen really fast, and there are already a whole bunch of 9-Series motherboards out, or at least on the way.

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Image credits to Intel


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