Intel Discontinues Skylake-X HEDT CPUs, With Cascade Lake Barely Available
Intel has published a new set of Product Change Notifications (PCNs) for the Skylake-X platform as well as a number of Xeon processors. The boxed and unboxed versions of the Core i9-9980XE, i9-9960X, i9-9940X, 9-9920X, i9-9900X, i9-9820X, and i7-9800X are all headed for that great CPU tray in the sky. Several Xeon W CPUs are also being discontinued, including the W-2102, W-2104, W-2123, W-2125, W-2133, W-2135, W-2145, W-2155, and W-2195.
These product discontinuations pop up periodically as Intel both launches and retires CPUs, and while the 14nm chip shortage caused some interesting relaunches, like a 22nm version of a previously-14nm chipset, dumping the 9th Gen Core-X family is standard operating procedure now that 10th Gen has been in market since last fall. On paper, this is actually good news, since Intel is selling Cascade Lake CPUs for significantly less money than their 9th Gen counterparts.
In reality, however, things seem a bit more complicated. For starters, Core i9-10980XE CPUs don’t appear to be available at Amazon or Newegg for anything remotely like their supposed MSRP. Prices on 9th Gen CPUs have slid lower, while 10th Gen Core-X CPUs are much more expensive than they’re supposed to be. The Core i9-9940X is selling for $855 on Amazon and $912 on Newegg (Intel list price, ~$1399). The Core i9-10940X is $1,600 at Newegg and $1,185 at Amazon. List price from Intel? $784 – $797.
This is exactly the opposite of how Intel has been treating its price shifts. From 2017 until now, Intel has resisted cutting prices on its products, preferring instead to introduce a new CPU generation at different price points. Instead of cutting the price of a Core i9-9980XE from $1,999 to $999, Intel chose to introduce the Cascade Lake-based Core i9-10980XE at that price point. This is how the company seeks to avoid the stigma of cutting prices as a way of keeping itself competitive against AMD.
The current state of AMD CPU prices, on the other hand, is excellent. The Ryzen 3900X is down to $389, with the 3950X available for $700, down from its $750 launch price. The 3960X and 3970X are roughly where they are supposed to be, at $1,485 and $1,899 respectively. The 3960X is running a little hotter than its $1,400 official list price, while the 3970X is cheaper than its $1,999 list price. The over-unders nearly cancel perfectly with each other.
There are two ways to read this news. The optimistic read says that Intel is discontinuing its 9th Gen CPUs now because it has solved the product inventory problem that was keeping 10th Gen out of market. Either that or Intel wants to swap 9th Gen parts for 10th Gen, bringing the price of 10th Gen down to expected MSRP in the process. Either of these is a win for users.
The cynical read is that Intel is killing off 9th Gen because it wants to dedicate some of that capacity to higher-profit server chips, and that the company will keep HEDT supplies low for a while to maximize its overall revenue at an uncertain time. It’s not clear what the explanation is, but 10th Generation CPUs either will or will not start selling in greater volume and quantity after the 9th Gen is shut down. If part availability dries up altogether, it’ll be evidence that Intel is devoting those resources elsewhere. If it improves, we’ll know this was a standard transition away from older hardware.
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