Amber Lake, which was officially announced at this year’s Computex, is the name of Intel’s partial update its current 8th generation of CPUs.
Unveiled at the same time the Whiskey Lake range was announced, Amber Lake is the successor to Intel’s Coffee Lake, but isn’t the same thing as Cannon Lake or Ice Lake — which aren’t expected until 2019.
Confused? We don’t blame you. Since Moore’s law has now more or less ground to a halt, Intel’s roadmap has gotten a lot more complicated as the chip manufacturer attempts to keep up a regular stream of product launches.
So how does Intel describe Amber Lake? Gregory Bryant, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s Client Computing Group, said we should “expect more than 140 new laptops and 2-in-1s” with Amber Lake and Whiskey Lake-based CPUs to hit the shelves this autumn, suggesting that these are low-powered chips targeting battery-powered devices, which was previously synonymous with the existing Core M series of processors.
Annoyingly, precious else was revealed about the Amber Lake architecture. Whether it would be a fork of the 3rd-generation 14nm++ manufacturing process – like that of the Coffee Lake design – or herald Intel’s much-anticipated jump to a 10nm process wasn’t made clear. However, it was suspected that it would be the former, given the issues that Intel has had with getting 10nm CPUs ready, and Bryant says that Amber Lake devices ready by the autumn.
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Amber Lake – Specifications
Details of the first lot of Amber Lake CPUs appear to have been leaked, with Romanian tech news site Next Lab 105 posting listings for Amber Lake CPUs with a Y-suffix – code for ‘extremely low power’ chips in Intel’s product naming lexicon.
According to the leak, there will be three main models, the flagship Core i7-8500Y, mid-range Core i5-8200Y, and the entry-level Core m3-8100Y.
In terms of clock speeds, these have the following base and turbo frequencies:
- Amber Lake Y Core i7-8500Y: 1.5GHz, turbo up to 4.2GHz (one core) or 3.6GHz (two cores)
- Amber Lake Y Core i5-8200Y: 1.3GHz, turbo up to 3.9GHz (one core) or 3.2GHz (two cores)
- Amber Lake Y Core m3-8100Y: 1.1GHz, turbo up to 3.4GHz (one core) or 2.7GHz (two cores)
All CPUs in this series are said to be dual core, capable of running two threads each, so four in total. Each one features a low TDP (thermal design power) of 5W and an integrated UHD 615 GPU – which, according to Notebook Check, won’t come with any onboard memory. This means it will eat into available system memory. For basic web use and Netflix, this shouldn’t be a problem, but anything heavier and Amber Lake machines are likely to struggle.
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Amber Lake – Price
Given their low-power focus, it’s expected that laptops and 2-in-1s running on Amber Lake-based CPUs will be priced towards the lower end of the market.
Since these CPUs are destined for portable devices, or ‘mobiles’ in industry-speak, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able (or even want) to pick up a standalone Amber Lake Y-series processor off the shelf and start building a gaming PC around it.
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Amber Lake – Release date
Besides the nebulous ‘fall’ (or ‘autumn’ to people on the other side of the pond), Intel hasn’t said when the first devices running on Amber Lake-based CPUs will hit the markets.
Amber Lake – Which laptops and 2-in-1s will feature these CPUs?
Intel has yet to announce any manufacturing partners, despite saying that over 100 devices are to be released this autumn.
There’s a rumour persisting that a refreshed MacBook line may feature Amber Lake-based CPUs, and there are also claims that a Chilean Dell site has mentioned that a new Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 will come with an Amber Lake processor. But, at the time of writing, there’s no evidence of the latter on the page in question, or in any cached versions of that page we’ve seen.
As with all internet rumours, take this info with a large pinch of salt. We’ll provide an update once we have official confirmation.
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Amber Lake vs Whiskey Lake – What’s the difference?
Given that both CPU architectures are intended to sit in low-power devices, that’s a good question.
When Bryant announced the two new ranges, he referred to them as the “Whiskey Lake U-series and Amber Lake Y-series”. If you’re familiar with Intel’s processor naming conventions, then you’ll know that the U-series designation refers to ‘ultra-low power’, which is one notch above the ‘extremely low power’ Y-series.
By that logic, we can expect the CPUs in Whiskey Lake laptops and 2-in-1s to offer a bit more processing power – and, by the same token, they’ll also be more power-thirsty.
Information from the Next Lab leak suggests that this is the case:
- Whiskey Lake U Core i7-8565U: 1.8GHz, turbo up to 4.6GHz (one core), 4.5GHz (two cores), or 4.1GHz (four cores)
- Whiskey Lake U Core i5-8265U: 1.6GHz, turbo up to 3.9GHz (one core), 3.9GHz (two cores), or 3.7GHz (four cores)
- Whiskey Lake U Core m3-8145U: 2.1GHz, turbo up to 3.7GHz (one core), 3.7GHz (two cores)
The Core m3-8145U is reportedly a dual-core CPU that can run up to four threads at once, while the quad-core Core i5-8265U and Core i7-8565U can run up to eight. All are listed as having a TDP of 15W, paired with an Intel UHD 620 integrated GPU, and 8MB, 6MB and 4MB caches.
Note that none of this is officially confirmed, so we’ll have to wait for official word from Intel before we know for sure.
Do you agree that Intel’s CPU lineup has gotten far too complicated? Let us know @TrustedReviews.