Intel has officially unveiled the 8th Gen ‘Core i’ series processors today. The current lineup only consists of 15W U-series SKUs which are aimed at power efficient notebooks and ultrabooks. These 8th Gen or rather Kaby Lake Refresh series processors include the Intel Core i5-8250U, Core i5-8350U, Core i7-8550U and Core i7-8650U. The major upgrade to the 8th Gen Core i series processors are the addition of two additional cores to all the SKUs that we’re seeing today. The Kaby Lake-U and previous U-series processors all were 2-core / 4-threaded CPUs which will now make way for the 4-core / 8-thread 8th Gen SKUs. Intel claims this addition itself will result in at least a 40% increase in performance.
Intel 8th Gen Processor lineup
We’re going to see just four new SKUs being announced today with more to come in the following months. As mentioned earlier, the major improvement is the addition of two cores across the SKU stack. These are all U-series SKUs which are 15W TDP processors for the non-Iris Graphics variants.
In order to maintain the 15W TDP, Intel has had to drop the Base Clock of the Core i7 SKUs down to a minimum of 1.8 GHz (Core i7-8550U) as compared to the Kaby Lake-U processors which had a minimum of 2.4 GHz on the Core i7-7560U. However, the pricing has dropped as well, the Core i7-8550U is priced at $409 which is $6 lesser than the Core i7-7560U which sells for $415.
L3 cache has doubled to 8MB with the 8th Gen Core-i U-series processors over the previous generation. The other thing to note is that these SKUs use the 14nm+ manufacturing process. Since this will be an improved process as compared to Kaby Lake, the manufacturing process is known as 14nm+ instead of 14nm.
Why is Intel 8th Gen labeled as Coffee Lake series?
There seems to be quite a bit of confusion with regards to the 8th Gen processors. To start with, 8th Gen will have processors from the Coffee Lake, Kaby Lake and Cannon Lake microarchitectures. So to associate 8th Gen simply with Coffee Lake alone is wrong. These processors that we see today are still following the Kaby Lake microarchitecture, hence, these should technically be Kaby Lake. Intel calls them Kaby Lake Refresh owing to the improvements in the manufacturing process and the usage of the same microarchitecture. Intel’s next jump is onto the 10nm process which as of now seems not ready. However, the addition of two cores alone brings a 40% performance improvement over the previous generation. This huge bump is the reason why Intel decided to go with 8th Gen.
Intel’s next jump is onto the 10nm process which as of now seems not ready. However, the addition of two cores alone brings a 40% performance improvement over the previous generation. This huge bump is the reason why Intel decided to go with 8th Gen.
There are a few things to note here. The same Kaby Lake microarchitecture is being reused for 8th Gen Core i or KBL-R processors unveiled today. And two additional cores are being incorporated as well. Intel could have easily done so earlier this year when they unveiled Kaby Lake-U processors. And that too for a lower price. It would appear that the upcoming Ryzen Mobile processor launch is a reason for Intel to bring forward its launch cycles so that competitive SKUs are ready when Ryzen Mobile finally comes around. Intel did the same with the X299 launch which was brought ahead of AMD’s Threadripper launch. If you’re thinking of getting laptops with these 8th Gen SKUs then don’t be under the impression that you are getting Coffee Lake processors, that isn’t the case here.
Desktop 8th Gen Intel Core Processors
Desktop SKUs under the 8th generation Coffee Lake won’t be coming out anything soon. As of now, we don’t have any official word as to when those are coming out but they’re mostly expected to come out in Q4 2017 or Q1 2018. These are also expected to be on 14nm but the later SKUs should feature the newer 10nm process.