During the mêlée of last week and Intel announcing the next wave of 8th Gen Core processors, there were a few products that Intel did not include in the official announcement. The ones that we caught were the Pentium Gold and Celeron desktop product line, but over the weekend we have also noticed that Intel is introducing a new line of ‘B’ processors.

The key features of the B processors are that they are named and perform similarly to the desktop processors the names are based on, but are not designed for socketed desktops: they use BGA mounting, similar to notebook processors. The high-end notebook processors, Core-H, are historically denoted by their 45W TDP, while these new Core-B processors have a 65W TDP. Intel has stated that this is not a ‘new B-series’ of processors, however they do not fall into the standard Core-S desktop definition, nor do they really qualify as notebook processors, siting above the Core-H line in a high-power segment that Intel defines for All-in-One types of systems (monitor with the PC embedded in the back).

The goal of the Core-B line, as we were told, is to offer embedded versions of desktop processors for AIO-type form factors with a lower z-height, enabling a more streamlined and premium design for integrated desktops. In the past this segment was supplied by Core-H or socketed Core-S processors. It is a little strange though – Intel’s own processor model tracking system, ARK, has a field for ‘embedded options available’ with the desktop processors, suggesting that they could have just said ‘yes’ and kept the name the same. But on a positive side, we can now identify which AIOs are using socketed parts compared to those using embedded parts, identified by the Core-B CPUs.

The initial run of the Core-B line will have a Core i7-8700B, Core i5-8500B, and Core i5-8400B.

AnandTech Core
TDP 65 W 65 W 65W
Cores 6C / 12T 6C / 6T 6C / 6T
Base Frequency 3.20 GHz 3.00 GHz 2.80 GHz
Turbo Frequency 4.60 GHz 4.10 GHz 4.00 GHz
iGPU UHD 630 UHD 630 UHD 630
iGPU Base/Turbo 350 / 1200 MHz 350 / 1100 MHz 350 / 1050 MHz
DRAM Support DDR4-2666 DDR4-2666 DDR4-2666
Optane Support Yes Yes Yes

In all respects, these are identical to their 65W desktop equivalents. That includes core counts, base frequencies, turbo frequencies, memory support, Optane support, and integrated graphics. The only difference however is that these CPUs are likely to be placed into TDP-limited scenarios enabled through firmware.

For example, take the MSI Vortex G25 system. I saw this at the end of last year at an Intel event in London, and noticed it had the Core i7-8700 processor in it. Based on our initial 8th Generation review and internal testing, I knew that the Core i7-8700 in a thermally unrestricted desktop drew a lot of power depending on how the BIOS was configured – somewhere north of 120W when the system was loaded and Intel’s all-core turbo was in play. So in spending 10 minutes with the Vortex system, I was able to determine that the Core i7-8700 in it was limited at the BIOS level to 65W maximum. As a result, for anything approaching serious multi-core workloads, the system was running at 3.2 GHz.

This ultimately made sense – the system design, with a big GPU inside, is limited by the ability to remove heat. The system was also designed by MSI’s laptop team, so they do know a thing or two about adjusting TDP limits using the BIOS. However, we were now in a situation where the Core i7-8700 in the MSI Vortex would perform significantly worse (up to 33%) on certain workloads due to the TDP limitation compared to a thermally unrestricted Core i7-8700 in a desktop allowed to implement the standard turbo profile.

The net result here is that systems like the Vortex will transition to these new Core-B processors. The upside is that the system design could be more efficient, and that when we see a B-series processor, we could ascertain that the turbo performance (especially multi-core turbo) might be lower than the desktop equivalent. The downside is the user will not be getting unrestricted i7-8700 performance.

A Small Chipset Announcement

Also on Intel’s cards, but not in the official announcements, was the CM246 mobile chipset, used by the new 8th Gen Core laptops that have Xeon-E processors in them. This chipset is a beefed up version of the HM370 chipset, supporting 24 PCIe lanes, six USB 3.1 (10 Gbps) ports, eight SATA ports, vPro, and Intel’s RST Enterprise. Intel rates the chipset at a 3W TDP. We are still waiting for the full announcement of the Xeon-E line, however.

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  • HStewart - Thursday, April 12, 2018 - link

    So what is the big difference with the H line, sounds like the primary difference is 65W vs 45W - Will it also be possible that some high end notebooks used B processor - and what about more that 6 cores line.

    One thing I notice with going though Sandra on XPS 15 2in1 line that I believe it shares more with H Series than it shares with U series of CPU. In fact specific related some of component it states specifically H series related the Ram controller. It maybe a Sandra issue, but I think Integrated GPU is a 620 but it looks like it has some 630 features.

    One the Integration of Vega GPU with Intel - to me this looks more like a step towards a direction of there own Discrete GPU's in the future. It definitely custom GPU and unlike my Lenovo Y50 - it looks all part of one systems - instead of two system. Sort of reminds what Microsoft and Sony did with the game consoles.
  • DanNeely - Thursday, April 12, 2018 - link

    I wouldn't be hugely surprised to see this crossing over into a few oversized laptops. OTOH I wouldn't be hugely surprised if it didn't happen either, because they don't sell well enough to justify a second PCB design and at their most overpowered max even with a factory overclock these would still lag behind a 95W K series desktop chip. I suspect if those systems currently sell with K chips or not is likely to be the determining factor; but it's not a segment I pay enough attention to to know if they do or not.
  • HStewart - Thursday, April 12, 2018 - link

    I think we will be starting to see blur between desktop and mobile chips - as technology gets smaller and lower power - the more powerful typical desktop line will be role in the more desirable mobile line for customers.
  • DanNeely - Thursday, April 12, 2018 - link

    That started happening years ago when intel added a line of 35W socketed desktop processors.
  • HStewart - Friday, April 13, 2018 - link

    I not sure you referring to when they put desktop processors in larger laptops with enormous power supplies.

    I more referring, to Intel making mobile processors with similar performance of desktop lines - removing the need for desktop machines unless you desire a machine with many cores or dual cpus
  • MrSpadge - Thursday, April 12, 2018 - link

    Well, the current H and S lines are exactly the same design. Maybe with slight process tuning towards low power vs. high clock & leakage. I'm sure the B series uses the same chip again, just with a different TDP (compared to H) & mounting (compared to S). They probably could have achieved the same goal with just a reconfigurable TDP on the H chips, apart from the minor process tweaks I mentioned, if there are any.
  • tipoo - Thursday, April 12, 2018 - link

    Are solder cracks with newer solder a non-issue now post 2009-2011 soldergate, or is an eventual end to lifespan just a reality of the ball connection?
  • DanNeely - Thursday, April 12, 2018 - link

    I haven't heard of issues with anything past the first generation of lead free solder, and since bumpgate became an issue so long ago I'd assume they've found a replacement that lasts for the lifetime of the rest of the system.
  • ZipSpeed - Thursday, April 12, 2018 - link

    Anyone else besides me having trouble keeping up with Intel's newest SKUs? With Ryzen, it seems to be getting more crazy because it seems like Intel is trying to fill every niche possible. I yearn for the simpler days when Pentium was high end, and Celeron was low end.
  • Ian Cutress - Thursday, April 12, 2018 - link

    Celeron is still low end, if that helps

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