Intel announced its latest eighth-generation Core processors today, and is promising that the new chips will offer up to a 40 percent speed boost over the previous seventh-generation Kaby Lake chips.
The eighth-generation chips will be doing things a little differently from other generations. In the past, Intel has either used generational steps for introducing new chip architectures (say, the jump from 22nm to 14nm between Haswell and Broadwell) or to offer an improved version of the previous generation’s architecture (like Skylake, which was an upgraded version of the 14nm node).
The eighth-generation chips, for the first time in the Core line will be doing a mixture of both. Getting announced today is a refreshed version of the Kaby Lake architecture that makes up the seventh-generation processors (built on the 14nm+ technology node), but later releases in the eight generation will offer the upcoming 14++ (Coffee Lake) and 10nm (Cannon Lake) technologies, too.
But for now, Intel is focusing its news today on a pretty narrow slice of its eighth-generation line: two new Core i7 chips, and two new i5 chips, both in the company’s U Series of laptop processors. But while the internal architecture may resemble the existing seventh-gen Kaby Lake lineup, there’s some significant speed improvements compared to the last generation of up to 40 percent. Intel says that improvement is largely due to the new chips all getting two extra cores, with all four eighth-gen models offering four cores / eight threads. Additionally, the company says it’s made improvements to the design and manufacturing process to further improve speed.
The new chips are also designed to handle things like 4K video, VR, 3D, and other recent innovations on a platform-wide level. The integrated HD 620 graphics built into the last generation of U Series processors is also getting rebranded to reflect that change in focus as UHD 620 graphics. The new name is largely cosmetic, though, given that the integrated GPU remains unchanged from the previous model. The improvements in performance are focused on the CPU instead.
While it may not be the jump to the next 14nm++ Coffee Lake architecture that many were expecting to launch the eighth-generation line, Intel says that looking at it from a user perspective instead of a strictly technical one, the upgrade is significant enough for a generational rebranding. Intel is also positioning the new eighth-generation chips toward customers with older computers, noting that while current generation Kaby Lake owners will see a moderate boost in performance, customers upgrading from, say, a five-year-old Ivy Bridge system would see more than double the speed from their current systems.
Intel is saying that the first laptops with the new eighth-generation chips will be available from OEM partners starting in September. As is characteristic of Intel, the company was tight-lipped when it came to other upcoming eighth-generation products, although it did say that more information on things like desktop chips, enterprise products, and more powerful enthusiast laptop chips would be forthcoming later in the fall. And looking farther to the future, the company has already started to tease its next next-generation platform, the 10nm++ Ice Lake family that will eventually succeed the newly announced chips.