Intel Core Y-series and U-series 8th Gen Processors Target Laptops with Built-in Gigabit WiFi, Optional LTE Connectivity

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We discovered three Intel Amber Lake processors with a 5W TDP through a leak last month namely Core m3-8100Y, Core i5-8200Y, Core i7-8500Y dual core/quad thread processors.

Intel has now made an announcement confirming the launch of Core Y-series (formerly Amber Lake, 5W TDP) and Core U-Series (Whiskey Lake, 15W TDP) 8th generation processors featuring Gigabit WiFi, optional support for LTE and targeting laptop and 2-in-1 hybrids.

Intel Core Y-Series “Amber Lake” Processors

Let’s start with the 5W Core-Y family key features:

  • 4MB Smart Cache
  • Intel HD Graphics 615
  • Intel High Definition Audio with digital surround sound,  support for multiple audio streams, jack re-tasking.
  • Intel Smart Sound Technology – Dedicated audio Digital Signal Processor designed to process audio for media playback and
    voice for PC interactions like Cortana, Nuance Dragon, or Skype.
  • USB 3.0 – Up to 5x USB 3.0 ports supporting up to 5 Gbps
  • USB 2.0 – Up to 6x USB 2.0 ports
  • SATA – Up to 2x SATA 6 Gb/s ports
  • eSATA – 1x external SATA devices up to 3 Gb/s
  • 1x SDXC interface
  • PCI Express 3.0 Interface – Up to 12 lanes and 6 ports @ up to 5 GT/s. PCI Express ports can be configured as x1, x2, and x4
  • Intel Integrated 10/100/1000 MAC – Support for the Intel I219LM and Intel I219V Gigabit Network Connection
  • Display – Up to 3x independent displays supported via
    • HDMI 1.4 up to 4096×2304 @ 24 Hz
    • DisplayPort up to 3840×2160 @ 60 Hz
    • eDP up to 3840×2160 @ 60 Hz
  • Low Speed Peripherals – 6x I2C, 3x UART

Three Core-Y “Amber Lake” processors are available as previously reported:

  • Core m3-8100Y dual core/quad thread processor @ 1.1 GHz (base) / 3.4 GHz (turbo) – Recommended Price: $281.00
  • Core i5-8200Y dual core/quad thread processor @ 1.3 GHz (base) / 3.9 GHz (turbo) – Recommended Price:  $291.00
  • Core i7-8500Y dual core/quad thread processor @ 1.5 GHz (base) / 4.2 GHz (turbo) – Recommended Price: $393.00

You can find a detailed side-by-side of the three SKUs here. All three processors have the exact same features, and should be pin-to-pin compatible, but the Core i7 model comes with higher CPU and GPU clocks. Note that historically recommended customer prices provided by Intel has not always been accurate, and in many cases are higher that the actual price sold to manufacturers.

Intel Core U-Series “Whiskey Lake” Processors

Intel Whiskey Lake-U Block Diagram
Click to Enlarge

Intel provided some more details about the 15W Core-U Whiskey Lake processors, but I’ll keep the list short with a comparison against the earlier Kay Lake-R 15W processor.

FEATURES KABY LAKE-R U42 (15W) WHISKEY LAKE U42 (15W)
CPU 14nm CPU / 22nm PCH 14nm CPU / 14nm PCH
GFX Gen 9 Intel Graphics; up to 24EU Gen 9 Intel Graphics; up to 24EU
Memory DDR4, LPDDR3, DDR3L DDR4 up to 2400, LPDDR3 up to 2133
Imaging 4 Cameras, up to 13MP None – use USB camera
Media,Display, Audio HDMI1.4/HDCP2.2, DP 1.2
Closed Dual-Core Audio DSP
HDMI1.4/HDCP2.2, DP 1.2
Quad-Core Audio DSP for high fidelity, low power audio and multi-voice services supported Wake on Voice
I/O & Connectivity Alpine Ridge Thunderbolt
Oak Peak WiGig (dual 25×14)
CNVi (integrated 802.11ac and BT5.0)
Integrated USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps)
Titan Ridge Thunderbolt w/ USB 3.1 & DP1.4 or Alpine Ridge Thunderbolt
WWAN XMM7360 M.2 XMM 7360 M.2
Storage Intel Optane SSDs/Memory, PCIe 3.0, SATA, SD 3.0, eMMC 5.0 Intel Optane SSDs/Memory, PCIe 3.0, SATA, SD 3.0, eMMC 5.14
Security SGX 1.0, secure biometrics SGX 1.0, secure biometrics
Intel Runtime BIOS Resilience with attestation via Nifty Rock + Intel TXT
Manageability Intel Endpoint Management Assistant

Three Whiskey Lake-U processors have also been launched:

  • Intel Core i7-8565U quad core/octa thread processor @ 1.80 / 4.60 GHz with 8 MB SmartCache, Intel UHD Graphics 620; Price:  $409.00
  • Intel Core i5-8265U quad core/octa thread processor @ 1.60 / 3.90 GHz with 6 MB SmartCache, Intel UHD Graphics 620; Price:  $297.00
  • Intel Core i3-8145U dual core/quad thread processor  @ 2.10 / 3.90 GHz with 4 MB SmartCache, Intel UHD Graphics 620; Price:  $281.00

Again if we look at the comparison between the three processors, the parts are basically identical except for the number of cores/threads, cache capacity, and max frequencies.

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willy
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willy

If intel wanted to promote ARM-based laptops, they wouldn’t do it differently. How can they sell for almost $300 a dual-core CPU running at 1.1 GHz ? There is no way a laptop can have a reasonable price based on this. For the price of their CPU alone you can get a full-blown laptop made round an RK3399 or any smartphone CPU, which will not necessarily draw more power! For example Asus C101 or PIPO P10 cost around $250.

tkaiser
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tkaiser

> How can they sell for almost $300 a dual-core CPU running at 1.1 GHz?

Do they? If (single-threaded) performance is needed it’s 3.4 GHz or not? Also due to way higher IO bandwidth and capabilities these things can do stuff ARM laptops can not (thanks to Thunderbolt 3 — e.g. fast network interconnects way beyond 10Gbps, attaching large and fast storage arrays and so on)

BTW: I’m a bit confused about PCIe capabilities since on ark.intel.com they talk about PCie Gen3 which would mean 8GT/s with less overhead (in fact twice as fast as Gen2 5GT/s).

blu
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blu

Unfortunately (1) that turbo boost usually does not fit in the cited TDPs, and as a result from that (2) is not backed by adequate TDP designs in many tablet/notebook enclosures. So in reality it lasts about as long as running a run-of-the-mill benchmark, if that much, and then falls back to much less impressive levels.

willy
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willy

That’s exactly the point. When you check on ark, it can be configured for 1.6 GHz base frequency at 8W TDP. So at this level, 3.4 will not last long. Also the cache is quite small to fit in the thermal envelope : 4 MB total. I guess it’s 512kB L2 per core + 3 MB shared L3. And don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware that intel CPUs may excell even at low frequencies, but we’re speaking about ~$280 for 2*1.1 GHz with short peaks around 3.4 GHz compared to roughly $30 for 2*2.0 GHz + 4*1.5 in a different techno which can be on par for a wide number of use cases. When you factor in the fact that end users don’t check the GHz anymore, they’ll see a dual-core laptop vs an hex-core laptop for half the price. Windows support is the only point which makes a difference for most users here, it’s a bit sad to see that it might be the only thing that maintains intel’s existence in the mobile and end-user market.

theguyuk
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theguyuk

Are we comparing same technology sizes. Are both 14nm?

tkaiser
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tkaiser

> When you factor in the fact that end users don’t check the GHz anymore, they’ll see a dual-core laptop vs an hex-core laptop for half the price

Yeah, well. If those end users take 3 x more cores at half the price as their criteria then why should anyone around care? People who buy electronics devices based on count of CPU cores are clueless anyway.

Also I do not understand mentioning Windows since most probably these Intel CPUs end up in macOS devices (the majority of customers not caring about count of cores since they simply don’t know what a CPU core is 🙂 )

willy
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willy

Good point about MacOS, and another point is that these people don’t care either about the price 🙂

tkaiser
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tkaiser

So what? If users buy cheap laptops with shitty thermal design they get what they deserve (as always). Same with people buying ultra thin laptops to do number crunching on them and complaining about low sustained performance. They simply bought the wrong device.

Also there’s something called ‘race to idle’. At least in macOS this works pretty well (do something in a very short period of time and then send various units — ultra fast SSD storage included — into deep sleep states again).

willy
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willy

The thing is that this device is supposed to be coolable by dissipating 5W and keeping it below the max temp of 100°C. I doubt it can work for a long time at 3.4 GHz by only dissipating only 5W of heat because I strongly doubt it can run at 3.4 while consuming only 5W. If it can, then fine, it might be worth the price for certain use cases. But my suspicion is that at 5W you’re only at 2*1.1 GHz max.

blu
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blu

Race to idle works in some scenarios and does not work in other scenarios. If the most users expect from those CPUs is opening web pages, then yes, race-to-idle is great. Also, if by ‘cheap laptops’ you refer to $1.2K+ models then great, but I don’t count those as cheap laptops. But I do concur on the shitty thermal design ; )

Almost forgot to mention, that Intel’s propensity to conveniently omit their turbo-boost TDPs is a problem for everybody, so part of the shitty thermal design bears the Intel logo ; )

tkaiser
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tkaiser

> If the most users expect from those CPUs is opening web pages, then yes, race-to-idle is great

The average laptop user is not a developer like willy and you. They open web pages (single-threaded peak CPU performance needed), watch videos (no CPU performance needed since QuickSync) and play games (not that much CPU performance needed since these Intel chips contain also 3D acceleration). What else?

blu
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blu

I can’t think of much else that average laptops users do, but as they say the devil is in the details. It’s quite easy to keep one desktop core busy nowadays — it suffices to encounter a cpu hog of an ad banner in the page you’re currently at, so that the next thing you do will not be able to enjoy the promised turbo-boost on your other core. And that’s just a random scenario. Many non-casual (or even casual) games make good use of two threads nowadays — ‘CandyCrush 4.2e13 on my 3.4GHz -rated Y core performs nowhere near my dual-core pentium G desktop – what gives!’ (hint: their Y core is not really 3.4GHz).

blu
Guest
blu

BTW, while on the subject of TDPs and turbo-boost promises — this is what you get when too much effort was spent into making the CPU look good in ‘first to sleep’ scenarios (pay attention to the single- vs multi-core scores):

https://browser.geekbench.com/v4/cpu/7912998

blu
Guest
blu

Indeed. It does appear as if somebody pinned the multi-core test to effectively run all its threads on the single core, so latencies went down the drain.

tkaiser
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tkaiser

> pay attention to the single- vs multi-core scores

I did. This is a very simple example for ‘benchmarking gone wrong’. Obviously one CPU core has been disabled by OS/kernel but this unreliable Geekbench thingy noted 2 cores max and then fired up 2 parallel instances of tests for no reason with the obvious result: multi-core slower than single-core since both times only one core was available)

‘Fire and forget’ benchmarking almost always produces just numbers without meaning and especially ZERO insights. The most important part is monitoring execution environment (CPU clockspeeds, thermals, on OS/kernels where disabling CPU cores is part of the job also monitoring available CPU cores and so on). None of those popular ‘benchmarks’ does this.

blu
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blu

You’re right — that benchmark run is botched. I didn’t pay close-enough attention before bringing it up.

RK
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RK

How do you secure a USB camera (on-board or otherwise) for biometric? Inquisitive minds want to know…

DanBa
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DanBa

The Whiskey Lake-U processors are compatible with Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos immersive audio.
https://twitter.com/DanielBa78/status/1034715275558563841

Ron
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Ron

No HDMI 2.0?!

Ron
Guest
Ron

Only with a converter chip from DP 1.2

Gouwa
Guest

Strange that the 8-gen CPU still not support LPDDR4 🙁

willy
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willy

isn’t LPDDR4 a bit too recent to be deployed ? Just asking, I’m not sure to have seen it yet. However LPDDR3 is common nowadays.

nobitakun
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nobitakun

no more Atom no more buy. When they release ultra budget ultra low powered cpu’s to compete with arm I will buy one of those PC, meanwhile nope.