Intel unveiled a new generation of Core i5 and Core i7 processors on Monday, promising a 40 percent performance improvement over its current crop of CPUs.
The four new chips represent the earliest beginnings of the Core family’s eighth generation, and include two new Core i5 SKUs and two new Core i7 SKUs. They’re U-series chips, which means they’re destined for ultraportables and 2-in-1 convertible laptops or tablets. Each one has four cores and eight threads, with the top-of-the line Core i7-8650U achieving a maximum clock speed of 4.2GHz.
At the lower end is the Core i5-8250U, which runs at a maximum of 3.4GHz. All of the new chips boast the usual gaggle of Intel performance and security features, including Turbo Boost 2.0, Hyper-Threading, smart caches, and AES encryption. They also support Optane memory, a new technology Intel rolled out earlier this year to enable systems with conventional spinning hard disks rival the speed of PCs with solid state drives.
The chips are available now to OEMs and system builders, and major computer makers like Dell and Lenovo will likely announce new PCs with eighth-generation chips in time for the holiday shopping season.
Missing from the chips is a new microarchitecture, the basic design of a microprocessor that defines everything from its caching capabilities to the construction of its transistors. The initial four chips are based on the existing Kaby Lake chip design, which uses a 14nm production process that is also found in the current sixth-generation Core lineup. A new 10nm architecture nicknamed Coffee Lake is in the works, although Intel has offered few details on its capabilities. Last week, the company also teased yet another architecture, called Ice Lake, which will use a second-generation 10nm production process that Intel refers to as 10nm+.
Also coming this fall are eighth-generation Core i3 chips, as well as Core i5 and i7 SKUs in the Y-series (for fanless PCs), H-series (for gaming laptops and mobile workstations), and S-series (for desktops) families.
Intel, ever tight-lipped about the specific design and manufacturing improvements that go into successive chip generations, didn’t elaborate on how the eighth-generation Core lineup achieves its 40 percent performance gains. In a press briefing last week, however, the company did say that 25 percent of the performance boost comes from adding two more cores (seventh-generation Core i5 and i7 U-series chips have only two cores), while design and manufacturing improvements are responsible for the remaining 15 percent.
Intel’s Core series has long been the preferred choice for powering consumer PCs, but the company is now facing increasing competition from AMD, which this year introduced its new Ryzen CPU lineup that rivals the Core’s capabilities at comparable or slightly cheaper prices.