Ever since the first Intel Coffee Lake roadmaps leaked, another enthusiast chipset alongside Z370 has been on the cards for the second half of 2018 - Intel’s Z390. Our first glimpse of this mysterious chipset comes in the form of a SuperMicro motherboard, spotted on our favourite leaky benchmarking platform, SiSoft Sandra.
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The Z390 chipset breaks the usual monotony of chipset nomenclature. This enthusiast chipset overlaps the Z370 in Intel’s roadmap, indicating it somewhat replacing the recently released chipset. This top-tier chipset has been rumoured to be supporting future eight-core chips, although no further indication of this has arisen so far.
The database entry - yet again surfacing on SiSoft Sandra and spotted by Videocardz - indicates a SuperMicro C7Z390-PGW motherboard, the first Z390 spotted in the wild. The mysterious six-core CPU used in the motherboard is operating at a 92W TDP, slightly lower than the 95W TDP required by unlocked K-series Coffee Lake chips, such as the i7 8700K and i5 8600K.
Locked Coffee Lake processors, such as the i7 8700 and i5 8400, have a 65W TDP. While previous generation unlocked Intel chips have a 91W TDP, so it’s unclear exactly what CPU is being used in this Z390 motherboard.
The SuperMicro board is utilising a six-core/twelve-thread processor at 3.3GHz/3.6GHz. There is currently no CPU in the Coffee Lake lineup that runs at these exact speeds. However, it is still early days for the Z390 platform, and this could just be a reporting error within the SiSoft program.
Another potential use for this unreleased chipsets is a little less exciting than eight-core processor launches, although they are not necessarily mutually exclusive… This would include an upgrade to integrated connectivity, such as high-speed LAN and USB 3.1 Gen 2 directly integrated on the board, rather than subject to third-party silicon.
These small upgrades were first rumoured with the early 300-series Cannon Lake plans, and never made it to launch due to the considerable hurdles Intel have run into with their 10nm microarchitecture as a whole. For potential customers, this may result in Coffee Lake’s true top-end chipset not launching until well into this eighth generation’s lifespan with minor incremental upgrades, and the traditionally top-spec Zx70 chipset renegaded to second fiddle.
Now that board partners have the Z390 chipset in their hands, we may start to see a few more leaks surface online, offering some indication to the end goal for this chipset. We were initially expecting the Z390 boards not to appear until the second half of 2018, but if they’re already being tested that may indicate the launch being pulled in. That is Intel’s current MO after all. The midrange and budget H310, B360, and H370 chipsets for the 8th generation Core chips are still unreleased, however, and enthusiast users may end up holding fire and waiting for the upcoming Z390 chipset rather than Intel’s seemingly shoehorned Z370.