Hardware

Intel brings i9 to laptops

April 10th, 2018
Intel last week unveiled a mobile range of its powerful Core i9 series processors. The new line-up brings desktop performance to laptops, writes BRYAN TURNER.
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Since Intel’s announcement of the first Core i9 processors in early 2017, consumers have considered it to be desktop-exclusive, because of the power it requires to operate. At a global event in Beijing, Intel claimed that the Core i9 series for laptops will deliver the best gaming and content creation that the market has ever seen.

The new 8th generation Core i9, i7, and i5 processors for laptops are based on the Coffee Lake platform, which brings up to 41% more frames per second in gameplay and a 59% speed increase in rendering 4K video, compared to the previous Kaby Lake mobile processors.

The new processors compete directly with AMD’s mobile lineup. Last year’s launch of the AMD Ryzen series of processors gave Intel’s rival a massive lead in mobile processing power.

The top-of-the-range Core i9 for laptop processors are the first mobile processors to use 6 cores and 12 threads.

This means that software can make use of an additional 2 cores and 4 threads, compared to the previous top-of-the-range Core i7 series. This translates into more processing power and faster performance.

This level of processing will only be economically viable to consumers who need to make heavy use of mobile gaming or video editing while on the go. Intel also only allows utilisation of the processor’s full 4.8GHz if the laptop is in a well-ventilated area and is plugged in to charge. Without this, Intel’s Thermal Velocity Boost will not kick in.

The 8th generation Core i5+, i7+, and i9+ processors represent the Intel Core extension platform, which allows external chipsets to develop Intel-approved processor extensions for specific applications. This extension platform is powered by Intel’s Optane memory extension, which provides on-demand acceleration of everyday tasks. 

The implementation of Optane memory in the previous generation of processors has shown a browser launch speed increase of up to 5 times and a Microsoft Office program launch speed increase of up to 3.8 times. This high performance is described by Intel as revolutionary, because acceleration is exclusively on-demand and does not affect the battery life of the laptop.

Intel is shifting a large amount of its processor attention to mobile computing, as the demand grows for mobile gaming and streaming those games from non-desktop environments. This shift in attention has been welcomed by the PC gaming industry, says Intel, as it has a track record of delivering sharp and immersive graphics experiences on desktop computers.

However, gaming is not the focus of Intel’s offerings for the Core i9 for laptop processors. Editing and rendering of 4K video, digital publications, digital art, and other digital content creation have quickly moved to the mobile space. Creators of this content are finding themselves less and less behind desktop computers and interacting with their colleagues and clients on the go. Intel is tapping into this market with the Core i9’s graphics delivery, with desktop-grade VR experiences on a mobile device.

Intel’s chipsets have also been improved, with the introduction of the Intel 300 Series Chipset, bringing on-board gigabit AC Wi-Fi. This chipset has a Wi-Fi transceiver that is twice as fast as the previous series chipset. This is huge step forward for local area networks which need to transfer files quickly, but the average home network infrastructure will not yet be able to maximize this chip’s potential. For example, MWEB’s current offering of gigabit fibre-to-the-home, which will match the Wi-Fi card’s speed, costs R2500 per month – unlikely to gain much consumer uptake in the short term.

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