Intel launches Whiskey and Amber Lakes: Kaby Lake with better Wi-Fi, USB

Intel has launched its latest mobile processors: six new chips designed for Ultrabooks and other thin-and-light systems. Three 15W U-series chips are codenamed Whiskey Lake, and another three 5W Y-series parts are codenamed Amber Lake.

Model Cores/Threads Clock base/boost​/GHz Level 3 cache/MB TDP/W DDR4​/MHz LPDDR3​/MHz
Whiskey Lake
i7-8565U 4/8 1.8/4.6 8 15 2400 2133
i5-8265U 4/8 1.6/3.9 6 15 2400 2133
i3-8165U 2/4 2.1/3.9 4 15 2400 2133
Amber Lake
i7-8500Y 2/4 1.5/4.2 4 5 1866
i5-8200Y 2/4 1.3/3.9 4 5 1866
m3-‍8100Y 2/4 1.1/3.4 4 5 1866

The CPU parts of these new processors are the same Kaby Lake Refresh parts as Intel launched a year ago—just with slightly tweaked clock speeds.

The i7-8565U, for example, at 1.8/4.6GHz, is just a slightly uprated replacement for the i7-8550U at 1.8/4.0GHz. Due to this similarity, the new parts retain the “8th generation” branding of last year’s parts. This similarity also means that the new chips don’t include hardware fixes for the Meltdown or Spectre issues.

The differences lie in the on-package chipset. The U-series and Y-series processors integrate the chipset onto the processor package: the CPU is connected to the chipset by an interface that’s comparable to a PCIe 3.0 x4 connection. The chipsets provide USB, audio, network, SATA, and other connectivity.

The new chipset has two important upgrades relative to the older processors: first, an integrated Wi-Fi controller supporting 160MHz 802.11ac connections, for notional connection speeds in excess of 1 gigabit per second. OEMs need to add another chip (called a companion RF chip) to the motherboard to complete the Wi-Fi implementation. This should reduce the cost to OEMs and see greater adoption of Intel’s wireless chipsets.

Second, the integrated USB controller has been upgraded to support two USB 3.1 generation 2 ports; the previous chipset only supported generation 1. The difference between generations is speed: generation 1 operates at 5 gigabits per second and generation 2 at 10 gigabits per second.

The chipset also includes an integrated gigabit Ethernet controller (which again needs to be paired with a second component on the motherboard) and audio controller.

Given the minor processor refresh, we’d expect to see OEMs producing similarly minor system refreshes over the next few weeks.

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