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Intel Coffee Lake (8th-gen) Processors: Release date, specs, latest news and rumours

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8th gen core laptop

What you really need to know about Intel's 8th-gen Coffee Lake processors

Latest news at a glance:

  • NEW: Will be 30% more powerful than 7th-gen Kaby Lake
  • Predicted to launch before end of 2017
  • Quad-core and six-core chips expected

It looks like Intel’s upcoming 8th-gen 'Coffee Lake' Core i processors are going to be more powerful than even Intel itself had predicted. At its Computex 2017 keynote, Intel confirmed that its previous estimation of a 15% performance hike over 7th-gen 'Kaby Lake' had been revised up to 30%. That's double the performance boost that had been initially expected.

This is a big jump, and takes Coffee Lake from a bog-standard incremental upgrade to something potentially quite special.

Before, our buying advice on Coffee Lake would have been 'not to worry' about it too much. Now, a laptop launching without this 8th-gen kit could quickly be seen as a bit dated, as Intel says the chips are on track to appear in laptops and desktops launching before the holiday season this year

It even brought an 8th-gen-powered laptop on stage just to prove it was actually happening – if an unmarked laptop is proof.

Related: What is a CPU?

Does this matter?

Let’s take a step back: why does this matter to you and the laptop or PC purchase you’re thinking of making this year?

You may have heard of 7th-gen Intel Core processors, otherwise known as Kaby Lake. This is the marketing name for the latest generation of Intel Core i processors you’ll find in new PCs and laptops, and represents the follow-up to 6th-gen Skylake.

The 8th-gen chip uses a 14-nanometre (nm) 'process', which is the same as Kaby Lake. At its most basic, the smaller the process the more efficient the processor is, allowing you to squeeze more transistors onto the same-sized piece of silicon.

Related: What is RAM?

Silicon is expensive, so fitting more of the ultra-important transistors onto them means you can make more efficient use of each little piece. The process of making smaller transistors is also expensive, so Intel has used this 14nm architecture for its 5th-gen Broadwell, 6th-gen Skylake and 7th-gen Kaby Lake products.

This new product will use the same 14nm size and, like with all previous advancements, take advantage of new technology to make the process even more efficient.

If you're thinking of building a PC in the second half of this year, you might be interested in waiting to see whether 8th-gen Coffee Lake chips can take the fight to AMD's Ryzen 5 and 7 processors, both in terms of price and performance.

So far, AMD has managed to undercut Intel on price, but if Intel fights back with Coffee Lake, things should get very interesting.

Related: Best CPUs for gaming

Intel Coffee Lake Roadmap: When's the release date?

Here's how things are shaping up for new Intel processors in 2017:

  • Early 2017: 14nm Kaby Lake
  • First half of 2017: 14nm Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X (Extreme, enthusiast chips)
  • Second half of 2017: 14nm Coffee Lake
  • Late 2017: 10nm Cannonlake

Coffee Lake specs

Good news, fans of spurious rumours, we have some more information about Intel’s next generation of desktop processors and this time it comes courtesy of the ever-leaky SiSoft Sandra database. The latest apparent early testing of a new Intel chip has appeared online, and it’s a six-core chip that looks set to take the fight to AMD’s ultra-competitive Ryzen 5 processors.

The chip in question is reported as running at 3.5GHz, which probably isn’t the final speed given Intel’s processors are able to run at a higher clock speed than AMD’s equivalents.

The report shows there’s no Hyper-Threading (where each core is used as two virtual cores for extra performance); AMD’s Ryzen 5 1600X has six cores and 12 threads with a 3.6-4GHz clock speed on its 1600X chip, and 3.2-3.6GHz on the 1600. But physical cores count for a lot more than multi-threading, so Intel shouldn’t be too far behind AMD, should these benchmarks prove legit.

While an unverified benchmark database entry is hardly concrete, this report does appear to confirm the talk about Intel pushing ahead with its 8th-gen Core processors and adding a six core product to its consumer line-up. Consider this a healthy dose of confirmation bias.

So far, Intel has only supplied six core chip with its so-called Extreme product lines, the latest of which is Kaby Lake-X and Skylake-X.

Watch: Intel processors explained

Will you wait for Coffee Lake to buy a new computer, or are you already sold on a Kaby Lake machine? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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