Intel unveiled the first of its modules that combine Intel CPU and AMD GPU tech. These modules combine Intel's new H-series 8th gen Coffee Lake CPUs with AMDs RX Vega M platform. The hope is that these modules will allow laptops to have the capabilities they would with a dedicated GPU without the expense and complication of actually having to install a separate card.
There will be five models of the Intel/AMD module, one of them including a Core i5 processor and the other four containing i7s. As you can see in the table below, there's not a lot of difference between the i7 modules and the i5 module seems like it will be only slightly less capable than the others in tasks that don't take advantage of Hyperthreading.
|8th Gen Intel Core Processor Numbers||i7-8809G||i7-8709G||i7-8706G||i7-8705G||i5-8305G|
|Maximum Processor Frequency (GHz)||4.2||4.1||4.1||4.1||3.8|
|Base Clock Frequency (GHz)||3.1||3.1||3.1||3.1||2.8|
|Number of Processor Cores/Threads||4/8||4/8||4/8||4/8||4/8|
|Cache Size (MB)||8||8||8||8||6|
|Number of Memory Channels||2||2||2||2||2|
|Fully Unlocked CPU, GPU, and HBM||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Discrete Graphics||Radeon RX Vega M GH||Radeon RX Vega M GH||Radeon RX Vega M GH||Radeon RX Vega M GH||Radeon RX Vega M GH|
|Intel HD Graphics||630||630||630||630||630|
|Graphics Dynamic Frequency (MHz)||Up to 1100||Up to 1100||Up to 1100||Up to 1100||Up to 1100|
|Intel vPro Technology||No||No||Yes||No||No|
|Graphics Version||Radeon RX Vega M GH Graphics||Radeon RX Vega M GH Graphics||Radeon RX Vega M GH Graphics||Radeon RX Vega M GH Graphics||Radeon RX Vega M GH Graphics|
|Architecture||Vega M||Vega M||Vega M||Vega M||Vega M|
|Base GPU Clock||1063 MHz||1063 MHz||931 MHz||931 MHz||931 MHz|
|Boost GPU Clock||1190 MHz||1190 MHz||1011 MHz||1011 MHz||1011 MHz|
|Memory Bandwidth||204.8 GB/s||204.8 GB/s||179.2 GB/s||179.2 GB/s||179.2 GB/s|
|Peak SP Performance||Up to 3.7 TFLOPS||Up to 3.7 TFLOPS||Up to 2.6 TFLOPS||Up to 2.6 TFLOPS||Up to 2.6 TFLOPS|
|ROPs||64 pix/clk||64 pix/clk||32 pix/clk||32 pix/clk||32 pix/clk|
|High Bandwidth Cache||4GB HBM2||4GB HBM2||4GB HBM2||4GB HBM2||4GB HBM2|
One exciting aspect of the highest-end module, the i7-8809G, is that its CPU, GPU, and HBM are fully unlocked. This means you could potentially overclock all three of them. Usually, that wouldn't be a great idea in a laptop since they typically only contain just enough active cooling to keep the system running. However, manufacturers could take advantage of the space saved by a lack of dedicated GPU to install more cooling and allow users to get a little bit of the overclocking freedom that desktop users enjoy.
As cool as these new Intel and AMD modules are, they're not going to be revolutionary when it comes to laptop gaming, and they don't quite make up for not having a separate GPU. Intel reports that they perform around 1.4x better than a GTX 1050 (4GB). This is certainly a lot better than Intel onboard graphics but won't match up to a dedicated gaming laptop.
These modules really shine when it comes to applications like Adobe Premiere that can take advantage of a GPU to speed up computation. Previously laptops relying on integrated graphics had to run these programs using CPU only, but these modules can use the Vega cores to make tasks like encoding video a lot faster.
This is an interesting new approach to mobile computing and serves to bridge the gap between ordinary consumer-grade laptops and higher-end enthusiast models. I'm excited to see what kind of form-factors these modules get put into in the future.