The generally reliable website BenchLife.info just posted new information about Intel's (INTC -6.41%) upcoming desktop processors, code-named Coffee Lake-S, as well as their related chipsets, marketed as the 300-series.
According to the report, Intel plans to launch the new Coffee Lake chips in the fourth quarter of this year, potentially representing a pull-in relative to what previous leaks had indicated (i.e., the first quarter of 2018).
The new chips will be paired with new platform controller hubs, marketed as the 300-series, which the BenchLife.info leak shows will include enhanced functionality and integration compared with the current 200-series chipsets.
Let's take a closer look at what to expect from this new gear.
More processor cores, enhanced manufacturing tech
The Coffee Lake chips are expected to retain the same basic processor and graphics architectures as the current-generation Kaby Lake (i.e., seventh-generation Core) processor family.
One of the main differences, according to both leaks as well as Intel disclosures, will be additional processor cores -- up to six for the Coffee Lake desktop chips, a boost from up to four for the Kaby Lake chips. There will also be an enhanced 14nm++ manufacturing technology. Kaby Lake is manufactured using Intel's existing 14nm+ technology.
The upshot is that these new chips should offer substantially more performance than their predecessors in applications that can utilize multiple processor cores -- the biggest single-generation jump in multi-core performance for Intel's mainstream desktop lineup in a long time, as Intel has been selling quad-core processors into this market for years.
Platform improvements, too
In addition to improvements in processing power, Intel appears to be planning some interesting platform-level enhancements, according to the BenchLife.info leak.
For one thing, the new Z300-series chipsets will apparently include integrated USB 3.1 support, a feature that was missing in the prior Z200-series. Motherboard makers have been able to add USB 3.1 capabilities to their Z200-based motherboards, but this addition required a separate, standalone chip, which ultimately added complexity and cost to the boards.
In addition -- and this is the big one -- the Z300-series will apparently integrate both gigabit Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functionality. Again, just like with USB 3.1, motherboard makers have been including Wi-Fi functionality on to some of their boards for many years, but this has always required a standalone chip.
By integrating this functionality, Intel can cut out competing Wi-Fi chipmakers in Wi-Fi-capable motherboards. This should be interesting for the desktop-computer market, since many, but not all, desktops come with Wi-Fi capability anyway, but since the 300-series chipsets will also be used in notebooks, this should be quite nice for the notebook market, since virtually every laptop comes with Wi-Fi today.
Intel's stated goal is to put out new products on an annual cadence that deliver worthwhile improvements. The company had struggled to stick to this goal in the past under its "tick-tock" product development model, but under its new "waves of innovation" development methodology, it seems to be improving.
That said, a generation or two of consistent execution doesn't represent a trend; the company will need to exhibit multiple generations of strong execution before we can say Intel has structurally improved its product execution.
However, if Intel can get Coffee Lake out in high volume in the fourth quarter of this year, that'd be a solid start.