Asus has clocked the twangers off Intel’s Core i9 13900K (opens in new tab), breaching the 9GHz barrier for the first time. To be precise, the 13900K booted to the desktop running at the minor matter of 9,008MHz (opens in new tab). According to Asus and Intel, this is a new world record.
To achieve this feat, the Asus overclocking team made the switch from liquid nitrogen to liquid helium. Using nitrogen, Asus had previously achieved 8.8GHz.
The advantage of helium, of course, is even lower temperatures. According to Asus, the liquid nitrogen run entailed temps of minus 196°C. Helium lowered that to minus 269°C.
For the record, that is just four degrees higher than the absolute zero, which is minus 273.15°C. Chilly.
9GHz is a very impressive number and not something you can expect to see any time soon in terms of retail chips running at stock clocks, if ever. Intel is planning on releasing a new 6GHz variant of the 13900K, reportedly the i9 13900KS, which is likely to be unveiled at CES in January. But a 9GHz chip? Don’t hold your breath.
All that said, this overclocking stunt by Asus does have us pondering the long-term role of clock speed in performance. Way, way back in the year 2000, Intel was predicting that its then-new Pentium 4 Netburst architecture would hit 10GHz by 2005 (opens in new tab).
That never happened. Not even nearly. But as process node shrinks become ever harder and more expensive, and adding transistors becomes a less viable way of increasing performance, maybe clock speed as the primary tool of increasing performance could make a comeback.
Of course, process shrinks and frequency jumps are interrelated. So, pursuing ever higher clocks without die shrinks probably isn’t a goer, either. So, we’d better hope Intel’s recent bold prediction (opens in new tab) that Moore’s Law will keep on trucking and deliver trillion transistor chips by 2030 is correct.