Lack of Intel Comet Lake PCIe 4.0 Support is a Big Missed Opportunity

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After almost a year and a half of waiting, Intel Comet Lake-S has finally arrived, bringing for the first time a 10-core processor to its consumer range – one with pretty amazing clock speeds.

Right on the performance front, it does everything it needs – the Intel Core i9-10900K offers pretty incredible monofilament and multithreaded performance, even if it doesn't quite reverse AMD's current plug on the desktop processor throne.

However, we no longer live in such a simple world, where performance is all that matters. Even if we are only As far as PC games are concerned, the exclusion of PCIe 4.0 does not bode well for the future performance of systems equipped with Comet Lake processors, especially with regard to graphics cards and storage.

How can something so small be so important?

How can something so small be so important? (Image credit: Future)

PCIe 4.0 is the future, sorry

When I first heard that PCIe 4.0 was returning to the AMD X570 platform at Computex 2019, I knew it would be an improvement over PCIe 3.0, I just didn't know how much improvement it would be.

I only had the chance to test an SSD that uses the interface, the Gigabyte Aorus NVMe Gen4 SSD provided by AMD in my test kit when I reviewed the Ryzen 9 3900X and Ryzen 7 3700X. This SSD is currently locked in an office building in Manhattan, but when I tested this processor, I was able to get speeds of 4996 MB / s in the CrystalDiskMark sequential read test. To put this in perspective, the Adata XPG SX8200 Pro that I use on my test bench gets 3,720 MB / s in the same test – it's already a 25% improvement, from one of the PCIe 3.0 SSDs one of the first PCIe 4.0 SSDs.

The best SSDs will get faster and faster on this interface over time, making PCIe 3.0 SSDs obsolete in the same way that NVMe SSDs did for SATA SSDs.

This is even before considering the other major component of PCIe – the best graphics cards. Sure, the only graphics cards that currently use PCIe 4.0 are AMD Navi cards like the Radeon RX 5700 XT, but that will change. We've already heard rumors that RTX 3000 cards use PCIe 4.0, and if that's not enough, Nvidia already uses PCIe 4.0 in its server-grade Ampere products.

The game isn't just about a brilliant GeForce RTX 2070

The game isn't just about a brilliant GeForce RTX 2070 (Image credit: Future)

Gaming Gaming Gaming

the The PS5 and Xbox Series X are only a few months away at this point, and Sony and Microsoft won't stop talking about the SSDs of these systems and how they will move the games forward. Hell, remember that technological demo of Unreal Engine 5 that looked incredible? The developers behind this say that if PC players want to be able to see stuff like that, they'll have to buy an NVMe SSD.

And, yes, you can do it with a Comet Lake-S processor, that's absolutely true. But if the consoles all use PCIe 4.0 SSDs, it won't be long before it's the performance basis for AAA games – that's kind of how it goes with every console launch.

Intel likes to claim that it makes the best processors for gaming, and what it is based on is that single-core performance is the most important factor. And, for the most part, it's true – at launch.

Since even in my talk about these 10th generation Comet Lake-S processors, Intel compared the Intel Core i9-10900K to the Core i7-7700K, as people generally upgrade every 3-5 years.

With a high-end product like the Core i9-10900K, there will be users who will upgrade as soon as the 11th generation Intel desktop chip comes out, of course, but there will be many more which will rely on this processor much longer than a year or two.

I never thought that a console would make me cautious for people who plan to buy a high-end processor

I never thought that a console would make me cautious for people who plan to buy a high-end processor (Image credit: LetsGoDigital / Concept Creator)

Intel should have waited

Back to CES 2020, when Intel teased the Xe and Tiger Lake graphics, I said that Team Blue had to launch a desktop processor if it wanted to stay relevant. And that's what he did. However, nothing exists in a vacuum.

By launching a new processor that is not only quite expensive per se, but also requires a whole new motherboard, Intel is essentially asking consumers to spend hundreds (if not more) on a system that will, in some ways, be less than a console. in less than a year.

Because superfast storage is becoming one of the battlegrounds for the next generation of games – and you can be sure it will include the best PC games – Intel's lack of PCIe 4.0 seems incredibly short-sighted, especially for a company that puts so much value in PC gaming.

Only time will tell if PCIe 4.0 becomes as important as I think it is, but it's not that hot for Intel. Hopefully the rumors that Rocket Lake will follow Comet Lake closely are true – Intel is going to need PCIe 4.0 support if it is to be the best gaming processor.

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