Next Up for Intel: Whiskey Lake, 28-Core CPU

2018 Computex

TAIPEI—Intel is breaking out the whiskey, with a side of amber.

The chip manufacturer is rolling out two new versions of its eighth-generation Core processors, code-named Whiskey Lake and Amber Lake, which will join a few other technologies currently in development to power a new crop of energy efficient ultraportable laptops.

A wide-ranging keynote here at Computex also afforded a glimpse into Intel’s plans for 5G wireless connectivity, an area in which the company has sought to carve out a niche for itself amidst fierce competition. And in a boastful moment, Intel even showed off a 28-core prototype processor, hinting that it may be a viable commercial product before the end of the year.

The new Whiskey Lake CPUs will be manufactured on Intel’s 14-nanometer production process, which they inherit from the existing Coffee Lake and Kaby Lake U-series processors. They consume 15W of power, making them suitable to be the brains of thin and light laptops and convertibles with little space for massive batteries or cooling equipment.

Meanwhile, Amber Lake CPUs will join the Y-series Core family. These chips are even more energy efficient, than the U-series, designed for the thinnest and lightest designs such as the Apple MacBook. While U-series chips offer a blend of performance and power efficiency, Y-series chips are heavily skewed toward efficiency, which means they’re not a great choice for intensive tasks like video editing.

The CPU is unquestionably a huge drain on the laptop battery, but so is the display. So Intel also announced that it’s working on a new spec for a 1-watt LCD panel that could cut power consumption by half. The company says that in early testing on a Dell XPS 13, the low-power display technology produced more than 24 hours of video playback on a single charge.

The new chips and energy-efficient displays might not give power users or bleeding-edge adopters much cause for celebration, especially since Whiskey Lake and Amber Lake represent a further iteration of the 14-nanometer production process instead of the long-anticipated move to the 10-nanometer process. Ever-smaller processes for semiconductor fabrication are key steps to unlocking more computing performance.

Samsung and Qualcomm are already mass-producing 10-nanometer chips for mobile devices, while Intel’s archrival AMD is using a 14-nanometer process for its current Ryzen CPUs. At Computex, Intel offered no further updates on its 10-nanometer chips, known as Cannon Lake, having just announced in April that mass production would be further delayed to next year.

X Marks a New Generation

Perhaps sensing the disappointment of people who hanker after bleeding-edge CPUs, Intel also announced plans for a new Core X chip that will set the stage for the ninth generation Core lineup. Expensive Core X CPUs with many cores are typically only found in high-end workstations and gaming rigs, but the arrival of a ninth-generation version so soon after the introduction of Core i9 chips for laptops is a welcome development.

Part of what makes Core X-series chips so powerful is their combination of high thread counts and many processor cores, which makes them equally adept at handling a variety of workflows. But what if your computing tasks exclusively require single threads and dozens of cores?

Intel’s answer is its 28-core prototype CPU, which it demonstrated on stage at Computex. The prototype will offer unprecedented levels of single-threaded performance, Intel said. The company already offers a 28-core Xeon processor, but it’s obscenely expensive and targeted at enterprise users. Intel said more details about the new 28-core CPU will be coming by the end of the year.

On the cutting-edge storage front, Intel also announced a new version of its Optane SSD, the 905P. Like other Optane products, it’s aimed at heavy workloads for content creators and high performance gaming, but this time it offers more capacity—up to 1.2TB with multiple drives in an M.2 RAID array—than the measly tens of gigabytes in the 800-series models.

Despite years of hype, meanwhile, 5G still isn’t here yet, but Intel’s announcement that it will partner with Sprint to offer 5G-enabled devices that use the XMM 8000-series Intel modem is still intriguing. That won’t happen until the second half of next year, however. In the meantime, Intel is touting its 4G-connected laptops, of which it says there are currently 25 models available worldwide from the likes of Asus, Acer, HP, Lenovo, Dell, and Microsoft.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

PCMag.com Latest Articles