In the first half of 2018, chip giant Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) is expected to release a new family of processors targeted at high-performance laptops. Examples of the kinds of laptops that these chips will be targeted at include gaming computers, portable workstations, and desktop replacements. These chips are based on the company's Coffee Lake architecture, which first made its debut in high-performance desktop computers in October 2017.
In a nutshell, what the Coffee Lake laptop chips will bring compared with the Kaby Lake chips that Intel currently sells into this market are more processor cores. Since not all applications benefit from additional cores and instead benefit from faster individual cores, Intel is expected to increase the per-core performance of the Coffee Lake mobile chips as well.
Per a new leak from Chinese website Chiphell (via Reddit), the top part in the Coffee Lake-based high-performance mobile processor lineup is shaping up to be quite impressive.
50% more cores, significant per-core performance bump
Intel's current high-performance mobile part, based on the Kaby Lake architecture, is the Core i7-7920HQ. This part has four processor cores and is rated at a base frequency of 3.1 GHz (higher is generally better) and a single core can run at up to 4.1 GHz in scenarios that only stress a single core. Intel rates the part at a 45-watt thermal design power, or TDP.
Per the Chiphell leak, the top Coffee Lake mobile part will be branded the Core i9-8950HQ. The chip will have six cores (a 50% increase from the top Kaby Lake mobile part) run at a base frequency of 2.9 GHz with the ability to boost a single core to 4.8 GHz.
The leak also says that the all-core turbo speed of the chip -- that is, the speed that all the cores on the chip will run at simultaneously as long as it doesn't become power or thermally limited -- is 4.3GHz.
Perhaps what's even most incredible is that the source who posted this information to Chiphell claims that the chip will, too, be rated at a 45-watt TDP. If this information is all true, then the Core i9-8950HQ will be a highly impressive chip that Intel should easily be able to charge a hefty premium for.
Something to keep in mind
It's important to understand that very few laptops will ship with the Core i9-8950HQ. Most laptops today don't use Intel's high-performance mobile processors (these can be identified with an "H" in the model number), but instead use the company's more power efficient and integrated "U"-series processors. On top of that, the Core i9-8950HQ isn't going to be the only part in Intel's upcoming Coffee Lake "H"-series processor lineup. The Chiphell leak indicates that Intel is planning some hex-core parts that run at slower speeds as well as some quad-core parts, too.
I think the slower six-core parts (Core i7-8750H and Core i7-8850H) will be far more popular in high-performance notebooks than the 8950HQ will be. That prediction is based on the fact that there were very few laptops launched based on the company's highest-end Core i7-7920HQ, but plenty of systems rocking the company's cheaper (but slower) Core i7-7700HQ.
The Core i9-8950HQ is going to be an impressive halo part that'll probably be used in the most powerful, expensive, and possibly exotic laptops on the market, and I suspect that Intel will be able to fetch a pretty penny for each one sold. But I don't expect such chips to make up a substantial part of Intel's overall laptop processor shipment volume over the next year.