Intel headed to E3 2017 with a grab bag of announcements related to its new Skylake X- and Kaby Lake X-series CPUs, VR, and esports.
We learned about the new X-series CPUs recently at Computex 2017. This lineup ranges from a $242 Core i5 with four cores and threads all the way up to a new $1,999 Core i9 with 18 cores and 36 threads. Intel’s goal with today’s presentation appeared to have been convincing gamers that they need all those cores and threads for their own systems. Why? Because of VR, esports, and where they’re going to intersect.
Intel opened by saying that a new Core i7 is capable of pushing twice the frames per second in Blizzard’s team-based competitive shooter, Overwatch, although it didn’t specify which CPUs it was comparing. More interesting was the company’s push to allow you to livestream yourself playing Overwatch in mixed reality without putting you at a disadvantage because of a CPU bottleneck. That became something of a trend during today’s presentation–the company knows that most gamers don’t need a bunch of cores and threads specifically for games. Instead, they need the extra processing capabilities because they want to livestream while they’re playing, and they’re increasingly interested in doing so in VR.
To that end, Intel announced a partnership with ESL, the world’s largest esports organization. That partnership will bear fruit in a few ways. First, Intel will become the “backbone of all ESL esports operations on a pro, amateur, and grassroot level,” ESL said, as the organization’s global technology partner. Second, Intel will host the new Intel Grand Slam, which will offer competitive Counter Strike: Global Offensive players up to $1 million. Finally, the companies will also partner up with Oculus for a new VR Challenger League competition that will run until early 2018. Intel said the competition will begin in July and will take place online and at “key events with players from around the world.”