Raptor Lake soars to 6.0 GHz

Originally teased by Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger during his Innovate 2022 opening keynote, Intel unveiled its much-anticipated 6 GHz out-of-the-box processor, the Core i9-13900KS. The Core i9-13900KS is a special, high-clocked bin of the regular i9-13900K, offering the same 24-core (8P+16E) hybrid architecture, but with an impressive P-core max turbo clock speed of up to 6 GHz .

Based on Intel’s existing Raptor Lake-S desktop chips, Intel claims the Core i9-13900KS is the first desktop processor that can be used out of the box without overclocking. Regular chips top out at 5.8GHz, and the i9-13900KS is a more extreme container of that silicon, a chip Intel identified that can run harder to 6 GHz. The price of this extra burst of performance is that the chip consumes even more power than Intel’s usual high-end desktop parts, with an official TDP of 150 watts and an “extreme” power profile as high as 320 watts under load.

Meanwhile, unlike most Intel CPU launches, the company wasted no time in bringing its new special-edition chip to market: the $699 CPU is available immediately.

Intel Core i9-13900KS: 6 GHz P-Core Turbo for $699

The Core i9-13900KS has been the long-awaited addition to Intel’s Raptor Lake-S desktop lineup, and Intel hinted at its Innovate 2022 keynote that a 6 GHz out-of-the-box processor generation is imminent. As Intel likes to claim, the company sees the Core i9-13900KS as a major milestone for desktops, thanks to its 6 GHz P-Core turbo out of the box. That makes it one of the fastest desktop x86 processors ever made, at least from the perspective of users who don’t need to overclock anything to get those ridiculous core frequencies.

This screenshot is taken directly from Intel’s Core i9-13900KS promotional video

From a sneak peek video Intel posted on YouTube on Jan. 10, it appears that two of the Core i9-13900KS’s eight performance (P) cores hit 6 GHz, with the remaining six cores clocked at up to 5.6 GHz. Very impressive, even for an already capable Raptor Lake chip. Intel’s Core i9-9900KS hit 5 GHz on shipping consumer CPUs less than three and a half years ago, so the latest 6 GHz hit is relatively slow compared to the overall loose pace at which x86 CPU frequencies have been moving Fast forward ten years or so.

Like its predecessor KS parts, the i9-13900KS is a special container for Intel’s existing silicon. Judging by end-user reports of overclocking the stock Core i9-13900K, we’re left with the impression that very few of these chips are capable of reaching 6 GHz with ambient air cooling. So the i9-13900KS looks like a pretty thin dumpster, although unlike the i9-12900KS launch, we haven’t heard any official stats from Intel this time around.

Of course, higher clock speeds push the chip farther from the sweet spot on the voltage-frequency curve, and this special edition chip consumes more power. The base TDP (as defined by Intel) is now 150 watts, up from 125 watts on the regular i9-13900K.

More interesting are the PL1 and PL2 power limits. For their latest controller chips, Intel has actually created two official power profiles, something they have never done before. The “base” profile sets both PL1 and PL2 to 253 watts; this is the same PL2 (the turbo limit) as the i9-13900K, but PL1, the long-term expected steady-state power consumption of the processor, has been significantly increased from 125 W up to the same 253 W value. PL1 is usually synonymous with the chip’s official TDP, so I’m not sure how much the 150 W figure means here.

For system builders who really want to put energy efficiency in the wind to support peak performance, the new “Extreme” power delivery profile further increases PL1 and PL2 to 320 W, which correlates to an ICCMax current of 400 amps. While (hopefully) the i9-13900KS doesn’t need to hit 6 GHz on its few popular cores, the extra power should come in handy to help the rest of the CPU cores maintain high clock speeds as well, especially on heavy-duty CPU cores. The workload under the thread.

Intel hasn’t specified at this point how multiple configuration files will work (although the chips go on sale today), but between motherboard settings and Intel’s XTU utility, there’s no doubt access to one or two. Otherwise, since the new extreme power profile is official, Intel has confirmed that its standard warranty covers this higher-powered mode.

Intel’s current stack for the Intel 13th Gen Core i9 series is as follows (as of January 12, 2023):

Intel 13th Gen Core i9 Series: Raptor Lake-S (as of 01/12)
Annan Technology kernel
according to
E core
according to
E core
L3 cache
IGP according to
i9-13900KS 8+16/32 3200 6000 2400 4300 36 770 150 253/320 $699
i9-13900K 8+16/32 3000 5800 2200 4300 36 770 125 253 $589
i9-13900KF 8+16/32 3300 5800 2200 4300 36 125 253 $564
i9-13900 8+16/32 2000 5600 1500 4200 36 770 65 219 $549
i9-13900F 8+16/32 2000 5600 1500 4200 36 65 219 $524
i9-13900T 8+16/32 1100 5300 800 3900 36 770 35 106 $549

Comparing the Core i9-13900KS Special Edition processor directly to the regular Core i9-13900K, almost every clock speed value has been improved by some measure. Due to the higher TDP, the official base clock speeds of the P and E cores have been increased by 200MHz to 3.2 GHz and 2.4 GHz respectively. Meanwhile, the maximum turbo clock speed on the P core is now 6 GHz.

As with the base i9-13900K, it’s important to note that this is not an all-core Turbo value — that is, not all 8P cores can reach 6 GHz. Like the 5.8 GHz peak clock speed on the chip, this is achieved by layering Intel’s Thermal Velocity Boost (TVB) technology on top of its Turbo Boost Max 3.0 technology. To simplify, this means that clock speeds are only guaranteed to be available on the chip’s most favored core pair, and even then there’s only enough thermal headroom to boost the final 200MHz to 6GHz.

Otherwise, the remaining P cores have a normal all-core turbo limit of 5.4 GHz, which means they can hit 5.6 GHz when TVB is available. The E-cores, meanwhile, don’t get such love, and their turbo limit remains at 4.3 GHz, the same as the regular i9-13900K.

Finally, the Core i9-13900KS offers the same 36 MB of L3 cache as Intel’s other top Raptor Lake desktop chips. This is a graphics-enabled SKU, so it can use Intel’s UHD 770 integrated graphics.

Intel hasn’t clarified how many Core i9-13900KS parts will be available over the lifetime of Raptor Lake-S. As we’ve seen with previous iterations of the KS SKU, there are usually limited numbers of processors produced. This is mostly an opportunity for Intel to show off a faster chip, although the high price also means Intel is moving relatively few chips overall.

Marcus Kennedy, manager of Intel’s Client Computing Group (CCG), said: “Core i9-13900KS continues the excellence of our 13th Gen Intel Core desktop processor family, demonstrating new heights of performance enabled by our performance hybrid architecture’. He also said, “Extreme gamers and enthusiasts can now boost their everyday performance to unprecedented levels with the PC industry’s first desktop processor to offer 6.0 GHz stock speed”.

The Intel Core i9-13900KS is available now at PC retailers for an MSRP of $699. Officially, that’s $40 less than the previous Core i9-12900KS, which launched last year for $739. Otherwise, based on current market prices, the initial chip will be priced at nearly $729, which is $130 more than the i9-13900K ($599).

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