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New Intel CPUs bake in gigabit wireless and Alexa support

Intel isn’t quite ready to release its 10nm Cannon Lake chips just yet, but it does have some mid-generation upgrades for its eighth generation chips in the works. The new Whiskey Lake U-series CPUs integrate a gigabit wireless controller, potentially opening up much faster Wi-Fi speeds to midrange laptops. Y-series CPUs will introduce native support for smart assistants like Cortana and Alexa.

The release schedule and lineup of Intel hardware from the past year and the year to come have been shaken up dramatically by AMD’s stellar Ryzen CPU lines. The stiff competition encouraged Intel to up core counts and push out refreshes of eighth-series CPUs to stay competitive and that’s great for consumers. We’ve seen six-core Core i5 CPUs, and the super-fast ninth-generation CPUs which can hit clock speeds of 5GHz on a couple of cores aren’t far away now.

In the meantime though, Intel is also bolstering its eighth-generation lineup of Kaby Lake R hardware with the new Whisky Lake U-series and an Amber Lake Y-series. Both are based on the same underlying Kaby Lake architecture but do include a couple of new features which could make them attractive to system builders and potential buyers. The U-series CPUs have a powerful gigabit Wi-Fi module built in, and this should lead to far faster wireless internet access for the lower-end laptops that these chips are targeted at.

The new chips include: the Core i3-8256U CPU with two cores, four threads, and a clock speed of 3.9GHz when boosted; the Core i5-8256U with four cores, eight threads, and a boost clock of 3.9GHz, and the Core i7-8565U with four cores, eight threads, and a boosted clock of 4.6GHz, as per The Verge.

Joining the new U-series CPUs are an additional three in what’s being called the Amber Lake Y-series. The big new feature of those chips is the baked-in support for smart assistants. Alexa recently made headway in specific laptop brands, but with support built right into the hardware itself, we could see this expand into many more laptops in the future.

The Y-series includes the Core m3-8100Y, with two cores, four threads, and a boosted clock of 3.4GHz; the i5-8200Y with two cores, four threads, and a boosted clock of 3.9GHz, and the Core i7-8500Y, with two cores, four threads, and a boosted clock of 4.2GHz.

Expect these chips to begin showing up in entry-level and midrange laptops in the coming months.

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Jon Martindale is the Evergreen Coordinator for Computing, overseeing a team of writers addressing all the latest how to…
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