Intel Launches First Eighth-Generation Core Processors, Paving Way For Quad-Core 13-Inch MacBook Pro

Intel today introduced its eighth-generation Core processor lineup [PDF] coming to notebooks later this year.


The first four eighth-generation processors launching today are U-series chips suitable for the 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. They're all 15W chips with four cores and eight threads, paving the way for a quad-core 13-inch MacBook Pro.

The new Core i5 and Core i7 chips have integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620, and support both DDR4-2400 and LPDDR3-2133 RAM.

Given the lack of LPDDR4 support, which allows for up to 32GB RAM, a new 13-inch MacBook Pro with an eighth-generation Core processor would likely remain capped at 16GB of RAM. Apple marketing Phil Schiller explained why last year.


Notebooks using the eighth-generation chips can get up to 10 hours of battery life, consistent with the current 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Intel said eighth-generation processors appropriate for desktops like the iMac will be available in the fall, while processors appropriate for the 12-inch MacBook and 15-inch MacBook Pro are vaguely listed as coming soon.

The eighth-generation Core i5 and Core i7 chips are up to 40 percent faster than the equivalent seventh-generation Kaby Lake processors, according to Intel, based on the benchmark tool SYSmark 2014 SE on Windows 10. That tops Intel's original claim that the chips would be up to 30 percent faster.

The test compared Intel's quad-core Core i7-8550U processor, with a base frequency of 1.8GHz and Turbo Boost up to 4GHz, against its dual-core Core i7-7500U processor with a base frequency of 2.7GHz and Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz.

Intel also boasted that its eighth-generation Core processors are up to twice as fast as its equivalent five-year-old Ivy Bridge chips. It said users can output a 106-second 4K video in as little as three minutes with a new PC, for example, versus up to 45 minutes on an equivalent five-year-old PC.

Notably, the eighth-generation processors announced today are not part of the upcoming Coffee Lake family. Instead, they're part of what's being called Kaby Lake Refresh, an iteration of the seventh-generation Kaby Lake processors used in the latest MacBook, MacBook Pro, and iMac models.

Intel is expected to eventually announce chips based on Coffee Lake's 14nm++ and Cannonlake's 10nm manufacturing processes that join the eighth-generation Core lineup. In other words, a new generation of Core processors no longer immediately correlates to brand new chip architecture.

Intel said the first notebooks with eighth-generation Core processors will be available in September, but it's unclear when Apple will refresh its Mac lineup — probably not soon. For perspective, Intel launched its Kaby Lake processors in January, and the first Macs equipped with the chips were released in June.

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Tags: Intel, Kaby Lake
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2017 MacBook Pro is Up to 20% Faster Than Last Year’s Model in Benchmarks

Apple this week refreshed its MacBook Pro lineup with Intel's seventh-generation Kaby Lake processors, and early benchmarks for the notebooks suggest the 2017 models are up to 20 percent faster than the equivalent 2016 models equipped with Intel's sixth-generation Skylake processors.


Specifically, the new 15-inch MacBook Pro configured with a 2.9GHz Core i7 processor has average single-core and multi-core scores of 4,632 and 15,747 respectively based on nearly a dozen Geekbench 4 results so far.

By comparison, last year's 15-inch MacBook Pro configured with a sixth-generation 2.7GHz Core i7 processor, which was the equivalent high-end stock configuration, has average single-core and multi-core scores of 4,098 and 13,155 respectively based on over 4,800 Geekbench 4 results.

On a model-vs-model basis, the benchmark results suggest the 2017 MacBook Pro with a 2.9GHz processor is up to 13 percent faster in single-core performance, and up to 19.7 percent faster in multi-core performance, than the equivalent 2016 MacBook Pro model. Its price remains unchanged at $2,799.


There's only one Geekbench result for the new 15-inch MacBook Pro's base configuration with a 2.8GHz Core i7 processor, but the benchmarks suggest that model is up to 9.5 percent faster than the equivalent 2016 MacBook Pro equipped with a sixth-generation 2.6GHz Core i7 processor.

There are no Geekbench results yet for the new 15-inch MacBook Pro's highest-end built-to-order configuration with a seventh-generation 3.1GHz Core i7 processor, so its performance cannot be compared to the equivalent built-to-order 2016 MacBook Pro with a sixth-generation 2.9GHz Core i7 processor.

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Intel’s Upcoming Coffee Lake Processors Up to 30% Faster Than Kaby Lake Chips Coming to Mac Notebooks

Intel today said one of its eighth-generation "Coffee Lake" processors delivered more than a 30 percent performance boost over an equivalent seventh-generation "Kaby Lake" processor in recent testing. Both generations of chips are suitable for Apple notebooks, such as the 12-inch MacBook and MacBook Pro.


"We will have more to say about the 8th Gen Intel Core processor in the future but it's exciting to share that in the latest testing, we're seeing a performance improvement of more than 30 percent over the 7th Gen Intel Core processor," said Gregory Bryant, a senior executive at Intel.

Using the benchmark tool SYSmark 2014 on Windows, Intel compared an unreleased Core i7 quad-core processor with an unspecified base clock speed, and Turbo Boost up to 4GHz, against its Core i7-7500U dual-core processor with a base clock speed of 2.7GHz and Turbo Boost up to 3.5GHz. Both are 15W chips.

Intel aims to make its "Coffee Lake" lineup available to computer makers in the second half of this year, and the eighth-generation processors should provide the usual benefits of faster performance and longer battery life in future Macs.

Apple has yet to update its Mac lineup with Kaby Lake processors in the first place, but the company reportedly plans to announce new 12-inch MacBook and MacBook Pro models equipped with the seventh-generation chips at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference next week.

It's still too early to say when we'll see the first Mac with Coffee Lake, but it likely won't be until at least late 2017 or early 2018 given Intel's roadmap.

Earlier this year, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said Apple plans to launch a nondescript "15-inch MacBook" with 32GB of desktop-class RAM. He said the notebook will enter mass production in the early September quarter, but it's uncertain if Coffee Lake processors will be readily available by then.

Intel today also unveiled its Core X-series processor family for desktop computers, ranging from quad-core options to the high-end Core i9 Extreme Edition with 18 cores. The processors, codenamed "Basin Falls," are "coming soon." More details and tech specs are listed in this fact sheet and slideshow.


Apple has promised to release a high-end iMac for professional users later this year, and Intel's new Core X-series processors appear to be appropriate for the desktop computer if the company wishes to use them.

Apple's current Mac lineup uses a mix of Intel's fifth-generation Broadwell and sixth-generation Skylake processors.


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References to Next-Generation MacBook Pro Models Discovered in macOS 10.12.4 Beta

While the latest MacBook Pro with Touch Bar notebooks launched under four months ago, references to possible next-generation models have already been discovered in the latest macOS 10.12.4 beta.


Apple blog Pike's Universum uncovered a trio of motherboard identifiers that do not correspond with any current MacBook Pro model, but use the exact same processor power management data as 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models released in late 2016. The plist files do not exist in previous macOS Sierra versions.

The next-generation MacBook Pro models would likely be powered by Intel's faster Kaby Lake processors, which are the natural successor to Skylake processors used in late 2016 models. This would be in line with a report from six weeks ago claiming the MacBook Pro will receive only minor bumps in processing power for 2017.

Mac-B4831CEBD52A0C4C would likely be for two new 13-inch MacBook Pro models with function keys. The models would likely have Kaby Lake processors with a maximum Turbo Boost of 3400 MHz and 4000 MHz respectively.

Mac-CAD6701F7CEA0921 would likely be for three new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models. These notebooks would likely have Kaby Lake processors with a maximum Turbo Boost of 3500/3700 MHz and 4000 MHz respectively.

Mac-551B86E5744E2388 would likely be for three new 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar models. These notebooks would likely have Kaby Lake processors with a maximum Turbo Boost of 3800/3900 MHz and 4100 MHz respectively.

The blog said it checked the performance bias setting of each motherboard and determined that they are unlikely to be for desktop models such as the iMac and Mac Pro. There is also no GPU data as of yet.

The blog cross-referenced Intel's lineup of Kaby Lake processors currently available with the motherboard identifiers and was able to determine which chips are likely to be used in each new MacBook Pro:
13-inch MacBook Pro without Touch Bar

Intel Core i5-6360U 2.0 GHz (max Turbo Boost 3.1 GHz) with Intel® Iris™ Graphics 540 (15W)
Will be replaced by the:
Intel Core i5-7260U 2.2GHz (max Turbo Boost 3.4 GHz) with Intel® Iris™ Plus Graphics 640 (15W)

Intel Core i7-6660U 2.4 GHz (max Turbo Boost 3.4 GHz) with Intel® Iris™ Graphics 540 (15W)
Will be replaced by the:
Intel Core i7-7660U 2.5 GHz (max Turbo Boost 4.0 GHz) with Intel® Iris™ Plus Graphics 640 (15W)

13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

Intel Core i5-6267U 2.9 GHz (max Turbo Boost 3.3 GHz) with Intel® Iris™ Graphics 550 (28W)
Will be replaced by the:
Intel Core i5-7267U 3.1 GHz (max Turbo Boost 3.5 GHz) with Intel® Iris™ Plus Graphics 650 (28W)

Intel Core i5-6287U 3.1 GHz (max Turbo Boost 3.5 GHz) with Intel® Iris™ Graphics 550 (28W)
Will be replaced by the:
Intel Core i5-7287U 3.3 GHz (max Turbo Boost 3.7 GHz) with Intel® Iris™ Plus Graphics 650 (28W)

Intel Core i7-6567U 3.3 GHz (max Turbo Boost 3.6 GHz) with Intel® Iris™ Graphics 550 (28W)
Will be replaced by the:
Intel Core i7-7567U 3.5 GHz (max Turbo Boost 4.0 GHz) with Intel® Iris™ Plus Graphics 650 (28W)

15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

Intel Core i7-6700HQ 2.6 GHz (max Turbo Boost 3.5 GHz) with Intel® HD Graphics 530 (45W)
Will be replaced by the:
Intel Core i7-7700HQ 2.8 GHz (max Turbo Boost 3.8 GHz) with Intel® HD Graphics 630 (45W)

Intel Core i7-6820HQ 2.7 GHz (max Turbo Boost 3.6 GHz) with Intel® HD Graphics 530 (45W)
Will be replaced by the:
Intel Core i7-7820HQ 2.9 GHz (max Turbo Boost 3.9 GHz) with Intel® HD Graphics 630 (45W)

Intel Core i7-6920HQ 2.9 GHz (max Turbo Boost 3.8 GHz) with Intel® HD Graphics 530 (45W)
Will be replaced by the:
Intel Core i7-7920HQ 3.1 GHz (max Turbo Boost 4.1 GHz) with Intel® HD Graphics 630 (45W)
Apple seeded the first beta of macOS 10.12.4 to developers on January 24, and additional betas should follow. It is highly unlikely Apple will launch new MacBook Pros until the software update is officially released at the earliest, which should happen by late February or early March based on previous releases.

Apple could feasibly launch next-generation MacBook Pro models at any point following the release of macOS 10.2.4, but its late 2016 models are still rather new. WWDC 2017 in June is likely the earliest possibility for a refresh, but previous rumors also point towards a launch in the second half of 2017 or later.

Last month, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said new Kaby Lake-equipped MacBook Pros will enter mass production in the July quarter. He also mentioned a "15-inch MacBook" that will include 32GB of RAM and enter mass production in the early fourth quarter, which starts in September.

Related Roundups: MacBook Pro, macOS Sierra
Tags: Kaby Lake, Pike's Universum
Buyer's Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now)

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