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Intel Zaps Some Coffee Lake GPUs

February 12, 2019

Author: Tom R. Halfhill

Sometimes less is more, so Intel is shipping new PC processors without integrated graphics, following a similar move by AMD last year. Designated with an “F” suffix in the model name, these desktop processors in the 9th-Gen Core S-series employ the same die as existing Core S-series products (Coffee Lake) but disable the on-chip Intel GPU. In addition to competing with AMD’s similarly configured Ryzen 2000-series processors, the new chips should run cooler, increase the effective capacity of Intel’s overtaxed fabs, and attract gamers and content creators who prefer the higher performance of external graphics cards.

With little fanfare, Intel rolled out five of these processors in the Core i3, Core i5, Core i7, and Core i9 tiers. Some began shipping in January, and the rest will follow later this quarter. All are manufactured in the company’s newest 14nm++ technology. They have four to eight CPUs, base clock frequencies of 2.9GHz to 4.0GHz, and thermal design power (TDP) ranging from 65W to 95W. Their microarchitecture is unchanged from other Coffee Lake designs. The flagship Core i9-9900KF, like its integrated twin, offers the highest boost frequency (5.0GHz) of any PC processor and is the only F-model with Hyper-Threading.

By disabling the GPU, Intel is targeting gamers and others who use discrete graphics cards from AMD or Nvidia. It also increases fab capacity, because Intel can salvage some die that have defective logic in that die area. With the long-delayed 10nm technology still many months away, and the 14nm fabs struggling to meet demand, the F-models effectively boost production yields.

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