LAS VEGAS – Intel Corp. has pulled back the curtains on details around its new line of 8th-generation Intel Core H-series CPU, answering questions about why it’s featuring a Radeon chipset for the first time.

Intel first announced it would be sourcing an onboard graphics chipset from AMD’s Radeon division in November 2017. Now it’s confirming those chips are launching specifically with the Radeon RX Vega M on its highest performance line of CPUs intended for laptops, hybrid devices, virtual or mixed reality headsets, and micro-form factor PCs.

So why would Intel depart from designing its own graphics architecture, opting for a custom-designed chipset from a competitor? It was just a matter of observing what computer enthusiasts were doing and embracing it, according to  John Webb, director of client graphics marketing at Intel.

“What we saw with the H-series over the last couple of years was that most of the time customers were using a discrete graphics card,” he says. “We thought maybe it’s the right time to look at the higher level of integration that we can bring to the H series. This is going to allow us to bring an additional level of innovation to the enthusiast products.”

From the end-user point of view, AMD won’t be part of their experience in managing this product, including updating drivers. Those will be supplied by Intel.

“Our customer should just look at this as coming from Intel,” Webb says. “It just so happened that we acquired a custom-designed GPU chip from Radeon.”

Intel targets three different market segments with its H-series processors – content creators, gamers, and VR users. The addition of the Radeon graphics chip should not only help the systems using the processors deliver 4K rendering of graphically-intensive tasks, but it should free up space that could be used to beef up other components, or just trim overall system space.

The nitty gritty of the space savings on the motherboard are 1900 square millimeters, or three square inches, according to Webb. There’s also implications for how power is supplied. Instead of having to provide power independently to the CPU and GPU units at a level that allows maximum performance (62.5 Watts), a new Intel Dynamic Tuning system allows power sharing across its unified chipset. This updates power output constantly depending on what is happening with the system. The end result, according to Intel, is that a system can be designed with a 45 Watt requirement.

Intel says it tracks more than 52 million digital content creators in the world, so it has an idea of what they need from a computer. One of those things is a lot of displays connected to a single computer, and this chipset is capable of rendering nine separate displays. That’s six from the new Radeon processor and three more from the embedded Intel GPU as well.

One board, multiple chipsets

Having both the Intel and Radeon GPUs on one chipset means many different rendering engines and APIs can be supported here. Intel says that includes Vulkan and DirectX 12, the Radeon Display Engine and the Intel Gfx Display Engine. Here’s a more detailed schematic (click the graphic for a larger version):

Intel 8th gen H graphics sub-systems

Full specs sheet

Both a a Core i5 and Core i7 version of this new chipset will come to the market. Here’s a full specs sheet on the different models announced. No pricing was announced by Intel at this time. (Click this graphic for a larger version.)

8th Gen Intel Core i7/i5 specs sheet

Benchmarks for content creation

Intel releases its own benchmarks, comparing the new processors to a three-year old system (specifically in this case an Intel Core i7-4720HQ with Nvidia GTX 950M graphics). Its results show 1.6 times better productivity overall, and for content professionals, there is 6.7 times faster transcoding with Handbrake and a 42 per cent faster rendering of a complicated project workload. (Click the graphic for a larger version.)

Intel 8th Gen - content creation benchmarks

PCs using the new CPU

To launch its new processor into the market, Intel announced a new addition to its Intel NUC 8 line. These ultra-compact systems fit all the components of a typical desktop computer into a 1.2 L form factor. NUC stands for Next Unit of Computing.

Code-named “Hades Canyon” before its official launch, Intel NUC 8 is designed to support virtual reality devices. It’s also being positioned as a device well-suited for advanced content creation, as it’s highly portable and supports up to six displays. Though the red-eyed skull graphic decal on the top is telling of the gaming enthusiast target too.

Intel NUC 8 angled

Shipping in late March, Intel says it will be the smallest VR capable system on the market.

As for OEM partners, Dell and HP will have systems featuring the new chip announced over the next couple of days.

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