On Aug. 21, Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) announced the first of its eighth-generation Core processors for the personal computer market.
Those chips, formerly code-named Kaby Lake-Refresh, are aimed squarely at mainstream notebook computers and are built using the same 14nm+ technology that the original Kaby Lake processors are built with.
The main improvement that Intel delivered with Kaby Lake Refresh is a doubling of processor cores from two to four. Intel also delivered other improvements such as tighter manufacturing standards and an enhanced physical implementation.
Intel's next round of eighth-generation Core processors, known as Coffee Lake, is expected to begin rolling out in October. Here are three things you should expect from these Coffee Lake processors.
New manufacturing technology
While the Kaby Lake Refresh recycled the same 14nm+ technology introduced with the Kaby Lake generation, the Coffee Lake chips are expected to be built using Intel's new 14nm++ technology.
With 14nm++, Intel claims roughly a 10% improvement in transistor performance compared to the older 14nm+, so this should ultimately translate into chips that run at higher speeds while keeping power consumption in check.
With Kaby Lake Refresh, Intel increased the core count of its mainstream notebook products from two to four. With Coffee Lake, which will be targeted at mainstream desktop personal computers and high-performance notebook computers, Intel is also expected to deliver a year-over-year increase in processor core counts.
In the thin-and-light notebook market, Intel currently offers chips that are referred to as "2+3e" chips -- that is, they have two processor cores, GT3 graphics, and on-package memory called eDRAM.
The Kaby Lake Refresh parts are what are known as "4+2" chips -- four processor cores and GT2 graphics, with no eDRAM. Coffee Lake should bring a chip in a "4+3e" configuration for thin-and-light notebooks, which means four processor cores, GT3 graphics, and eDRAM.
Such chips should be appropriate for a future Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) MacBook Pro refresh (Apple currently uses the "2+3e" parts in its 13-inch MacBook Pro).
For high-performance notebooks and mainstream desktops, Intel currently sells parts in a "4+2" configuration. With Coffee Lake, Intel is expected to offer "6+2" parts into those markets, amounting to a 50% increase in core count.
That's not as big as the core count increase for the low-power notebook products, but increasing core count by 50% should be quite nice.
Enhanced platform features
With Coffee Lake, Intel is also releasing an updated platform controller hub (PCH) chip. Per a recent leak from website VideoCardz, the new PCH chip will include integrated USB 3.1 Gen 2 (current Kaby Lake-based systems require stand-alone support chips to enable this functionality), a "quad-core audio DSP" (Intel says that the current dual-core audio DSPs integrated into its PCH chips are "built to handle audio, voice, and speech interactions"), and integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5 technology.
These features should be compelling for both desktop and notebook computers (as such integration drives cost reduction), but space and power consumption tend to be bigger deals for the notebook market than for the desktop personal computer market.
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