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Intel Pours Whiskey Lake for Laptops

September 4, 2018

Author: Linley Gwennap

Intel’s new Whiskey Lake and Amber Lake processors offer a solid upgrade over their predecessors. Whereas high-end laptops upgraded to Coffee Lake earlier this year, the new chips address the popular U-series, which serves in thin-and-light PCs, and the Y-series, which powers 2-in-1s and fanless designs. The new products will mostly appear in PCs that cost at least $700.

Like their predecessors, the new models continue to use the Skylake microarchitecture. The new 8th Generation products take advantage of the company’s 14++ manufacturing process to deliver a 15% clock-speed boost relative to older Kaby Lake models. Whiskey Lake allows up to 8MB of L3 cache, while Amber Lake is limited to 4MB. They carry forward the Gen9 GT2 graphics unit that contains 24 shader cores (EUs) with a base clock speed of 300MHz as well as the 4K video engine from Kaby Lake. Whiskey Lake supports up to DDR4-2400 or LPDDR3-2133 DRAM, whereas Amber Lake can scale to LPDDR3-1866; both implement two DRAM channels.

Like other U- and Y-series products, the new chips integrate the south bridge (PCH in Intel lingo) in the processor package. Whiskey Lake packs the Cannon Point south bridge, which integrates a Wi-Fi MAC that supports 802.11ac with 2x2 MIMO and 160MHz channels, yielding a raw data rate of up to 1.7Gbps and actual transfer rates in excess of 1.2Gbps. Cannon Point also features four USB ports that can operate at 10Gbps. It adds four PCIe Gen3 lanes for connecting an Intel Optane M.2 accelerator. Finally, it sports a new low-power DSP core that can listen for wake words while the processor chip remains in deep sleep. Amber Lake instead integrates the older Union Point south bridge.

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