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Intel completes the 8th generation with chips for super-low-cost, ultra-thin laptops



Close-up of a desktop CPU from Coffee Lake – also from the 8th generation of Intel processors.
Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)

It's almost a year since Intel launched its eighth generation of computer processors. And now, finally, it seems to complete the lineup with a number of CPUs designed for super slim laptops and 2-in-1. The catch – the biggest improvements are not with the processor speed, but with the wifi.

In the material that Intel releases for its new U and Y series CPUs, it spends little time talking about how much faster the CPUs handle day-to-day tasks and a lot of time adding to the built-in Gigabit Wifi to speak. On CPUs that are meant for larger products – like cheap laptops or desktops – that would be a stupid boaster. These devices can afford to have a third-party module that works with Wi-Fi. But these new U- and Y-series chips are designed for super-slim devices where space is tight. A built-in Gigabit Wifi (also known as 802.11ac) makes these chips attractive for laptop manufacturers who can move away from their devices by more than a millimeter.

What would that mean for you and the I-consumers who are exposed to the chip and the device? Makers? It should mean thinner laptops and 2-in-1s with better battery life. If the battery only powers one chip and does not power it for a separate WLAN module, it can work more efficiently – and device manufacturers can use the stored space to squeeze in larger batteries.

Intel actually claims New U Series processors can last for an estimated 16 hours if the brightness of the unit's display is set to 200 nits and a 1080p video is played back. This is impressive for an Intel CPU that tends to be more power-hungry than something like the Qualcomm Snapdragon CPUs that some Windows laptop makers have used this year.

But apart from improved Wi-Fi speeds (which admittedly is never a bad thing) and battery life, these new chips do not sound like they're many times faster than the current generation. In the materials that Intel has released on the new chips, was any speed requirement compared to a 5-year-old system. While the claim that these chips are twice as fast as a five-year-old system is impressive, their speed is hard to understand compared to the 7th generation CPUs. On closer inspection, Intel Gizmodo said that the speed improvements for these eighth generation chips are "double digits" compared to the seventh generation. That's a pretty wide range of potential speed improvements! They later clarified that these 8th-generation U-Series CPUs are about 50 percent faster than the 7th-generation U-Series chips. These new CPUs are 10 to 15 percent faster than Kaby Lake's eighth-generation CPUs, which Intel released last August.

Today, a total of six chips were announced. The U-Series CPUs are based on the Whiskey Lake architecture – even an adaptation of the Kaby Lake architecture found in the seventh generation of Intel processors. There will be an i7-8565U with a maximum clock of 4.6GHz, an i5-8265U with a maximum clock of 3.9GHz and an i3-8165U with a maximum clock of 3.9GHz. All three chips have a TDP of 15W. 15W CPUs are usually found in your thinnest laptops, where speed is sacrificed for form. They are also a slight improvement over the current eighth-generation CPUs announced last August. These are based on the Kaby Lake R architecture and can be found in devices such as the Dell XPS 13 and the Razer Blade Stealth. Incidentally, pay attention to what the laptop manufacturers claim from the CPU. With the U-Series, which now consists of a mix of older Kaby Lake R (which does not have Wi-Fi speed improvement) and Whiskey Lake (whatever), check back. A quick, short hand is the last number to see before the U. Older Kaby Lake R CPUs end up in a zero, while newer Whiskey Lake CPUs end up in a five.

But for devices in which is really thin in device manufacturers will probably opt for the new Y-Series based on the Amber Lake architecture. This architecture is also an adaptation for Kaby Lake. These chips are all 5W CPUs for super thin 2-in-1 (think the cheapest Surface Pro) and laptops (think Apple MacBook). As with the U series, there are three chips. An i7-8500Y with a maximum clock of 4.2 GHz, an i5-8200Y with a maximum clock of 3.9 GHz and a m3-8100Y with a maximum clock of 3.4 GHz

The IFA is currently launching in Berlin , and e Several laptop makers are likely to announce devices with these chips. If you're excited about the new 8th generation, you can expect to see them in devices on the store shelves by the end of the year.


Update 16:20 – Intel turned to Gizmodo to clarify the "two-digit" claim. The post has been updated to reflect this clarification.


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