Intel's New Core i9 and Coffee Lake Chips Pave Way for Quad-Core 13" MacBook Pro, Mac Mini Refresh, and More

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Intel today introduced a range of new eighth-generation Core processors [PDF] appropriate for future MacBook Pro, Mac mini, and iMac models.


The most notable new chip is the first-ever Core i9 processor for notebooks. With six cores and 12 threads, Intel says the Core i9 is the highest-performance notebook processor it has ever designed. The H-series processor has a 2.9GHz base clock speed with a Turbo Boost frequency of up to 4.8GHz.

Given the Core i9 is a 45W chip, it is appropriate for the high-end 15-inch MacBook Pro and could be included in a refreshed version of the notebook as early as this year. Apple last updated the MacBook Pro lineup with Kaby Lake processors at WWDC in June 2017, so a Core i9 model could debut at WWDC 2018.

Of note, while the Core i9 processor allows for systems with up to 32GB of RAM, this is unlikely to apply to the next MacBook Pro, since low-power DDR4 RAM is still not supported. Back in 2016, Apple's marketing chief Phil Schiller said 32GB of standard DDR4 RAM would compromise battery life.

The eighth-generation Core processor family also includes new quad-core Core i5 and Core i7 processors with base clock speeds between 2.3GHz and 2.7GHz and integrated Iris Plus graphics. These 28W chips, part of the U-series, are suitable for future 13-inch MacBook Pro and Mac mini models.

Intel says the new Core i9, i7, and i5 processors for notebooks are based on its Coffee Lake platform and leverage its 14nm++ manufacturing process, enabling the chips to deliver up to 41 percent more frames per second in gameplay or edit 4K video up to 59 percent faster than the previous generation with the same discrete graphics, based on its internal benchmark testing.

As with Intel's Kaby Lake Refresh processors introduced last August, these new Coffee Lake chips pave the way for a quad-core 13-inch MacBook Pro should Apple choose to release one. The current lineup is limited to dual-core models.

Intel also expanded its lineup of eighth-generation Core processors for desktops today after an initial rollout last October. Two chips suitable for future 4K and 5K standard iMac models include six-core Core i5-8600 and Core i5-8500 chips with base clock speeds of 3.1GHz and 3.0GHz respectively.

The desktop lineup also includes six lower-power 35W chips with four or six cores and base clock speeds between 2.1GHz and 3.2GHz. While the current Mac mini lineup uses 28W chips, previous generations have used up to 45W chips, so the 35W processors could be suitable for future Mac mini models.

All in all, Intel has potentially laid the groundwork for a high-performance, top-of-the-line 15-inch MacBook Pro, quad-core 13-inch MacBook Pro models, a long-overdue Mac mini refresh, and updated iMacs as early as this year.

Looking further ahead, Bloomberg News on Monday reported that Apple plans to design and use its own processors for Macs starting as early as 2020. Intel shares saw their biggest price drop in two years following the report.

Article Link: Intel's New Core i9 and Coffee Lake Chips Pave Way for Quad-Core 13" MacBook Pro, Mac Mini Refresh, and More
 
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Appleaker

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Jun 13, 2016
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I hope this confirms the core bump for those who were doubtful it would span the entire U-series and H-series lineup (despite it being leaked years ago).

It’s exciting to get the final CPU specs for the chips we’ll see in Macs this year, including the Mac mini, which we will (almost certainly) see this year.
 
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Morgon

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Nov 21, 2014
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I don't care if it 'compromises battery life', I know what I'm getting into. 32GB is not a luxury anymore, it's needed for anyone who does heavy development work on the go.

90% of the time, I'm powered, anyway; the laptop just gives me the freedom to take that power anywhere.
 

Zdigital2015

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Jul 14, 2015
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Here's how the updates should go -

13" MacBook Pro (Fn Keys)
Entry - Core i5-8250U
Mid - Core i5-8350U
High - Core i7-8550U

13" MacBook Pro (Touchbar)
Entry - Core i5-8259U
Mid - Core i5-8269U
High - Core i7-8559U

15" MacBook Pro (Touchbar)
Entry - Core i7-8750H
Mid - Core i7-8850H
High - Core i9-8950HK

All the CPUs necessary for the updates have been formally announced by Intel, so it's really just a matter of when Apple wants to pull the trigger. I would expect that June at WWDC is the most likely venue. They then would also be able to announce 6c/12t 21.5"/27" iMacs as well and show off the Mac Pro if it is ready to demo.

Here are some other wildcards -

- Mac mini - will either be part of the modular Mac Pro (Base Compute Unit) or stay a standalone and get the Core i5/i7 with the integrated Vega GPUs. These could become their entry level AR/AI developer boxes. My guess: 50/50.

- 12"/13" MacBook/MacBook Air - Intel has yet to launch the 8th Generation Y-Series chips for the 12" MacBook, but with the 12"/13" MacBook/13" MacBook Air rumors floating around, it doesn't matter quite yet. Intel also has another 1-2 months to announce the CPU anyways. My guess: 100% something in that space.

- 17" MacBook Pro - The time is ripe for Apple to re-launch a new 17" MacBook Pro for Pros. Create a thicker chassis for plenty of battery and heat dissipation, match the current aesthetic, equip it with a 3840x2400 P3 display, 32GB DDR4 standard, an AMD Vega GPU that can drive the internal Retina at a decent frame rates plus external 5K displays and up to 4TB of SSD. The only CPU choice would be the Core i7-8950HK. My guess - 10% chance.

- 15" Non-Touchbar MacBook Pros - eliminate the Touchbar, put the Core i7-8706G in, leave the rest of the specs as is (16GB DDR3 DRAM, 256GB Storage, 4TB3 ports) and get it to the $1999 price point. My guess 50/50.

Intel also launched 3 new chipsets for these CPUs, the HM370, QM 370 and QMS380. Apple typically uses the HM-series, and the HM370 supports up to 4 ports of USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gbps), which would be very nice for upping the number of ports and the bandwidth of a 12"/13" MacBook/MacBook Air. Exciting times ahead, for sure.
 

HailstormX

macrumors regular
Nov 21, 2012
127
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yea I miss the early intel/apple days where Apple was getting first pick on processors. Its been sad how slow Apple has been to up date machines. Mac Pro 5 years or so and the Mac mini. For a company this size I think they can afford to throw a updated chip into an existing design. And Keep this stuff user serviceable too.
 

mzeb

macrumors regular
Jan 30, 2007
118
91
This is what I want in my 13" MacBook Pro. I got in on the 2017 model which has been excellent but was saddened Intel was behind on Coffee Lake last year. To a degree I'm looking forward to apple moving to ARM but what would that mean for boot camp? I still need windows and like to have one machine...
 
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