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Intel’s Core G-series mobile chips with Radeon RX Vega M graphics will usher in a new breed of powerful ultraportables

By Koh Wanzi - 8 Jan 2018

Intel’s Core G-series mobile chips with Radeon RX Vega M graphics will usher in a new breed of powerful ultraportables

The new processors integrate the CPU, GPU, and HBM2 memory on the same package. (Image Source: Intel)

Intel has finally taken the lid off a brand new series of 8th-generation Core mobile processors. The new Core G-series chips are Intel’s first to bundle both the processor, discrete graphics and second-generation High Bandwidth Memory (HBM2) in a single package, a design approach that enables significant space savings and dynamic power management.

The result is thinner and lighter gaming laptops, another point in recent trends that have seen more and more slim and powerful machines emerge with NVIDIA’s Max-Q technology.

More interestingly, AMD is supplying the on-package discrete graphics, a surprise partnership that Intel first announced in November.


CPU, GPU, and HBM2 on the same package

The Radeon RX Vega M graphics are linked to the processor via eight PCIe lanes, which Intel says provides the necessary bandwidth to avoid throttling of the GPU during intensive workloads.

There are two different variants of Vega M – Radeon RX Vega M GL and Vega M GH. The lower-powered GL version will be found on G-series chips with a 65W TDP, while Vega M GH will make its way onto 100W TDP chips, some of which support overclocking across the CPU, GPU, and HBM2 memory.

The die package features 4GB of HBM2, linked to the GPU by Intel’s Embedded Multi-Die Interconnect Bridge (EMIB). These G-series processors are the first consumer parts to use EMIB, and the technology is a key part of how Intel managed to reduce its silicon footprint.

Intel EMIB

EMIB provides high-density, high-bandwidth interconnects between die, and dispenses with traditional PCIe traces or any need for a silicon interposer. These trace length savings play a big role in the resulting reduction in package size, with space savings up to 1,900mm2 according to Intel (compared to implementing the CPU, GPU, and memory as discrete packages).

Compared to having the CPU, GPU, and memory implemented separately, the new chips occupy a lot less space. (Image Source: Intel)

In fact, the CPU and GPU profile is just 1.7mm thick.

Intel says this will allow enthusiast-grade devices measuring less than 17mm thick and which deliver up to eight hours of battery on a single charge. These means gaming machines that are VR-ready and also capable of handling advanced content creation workloads.

The prospects are tantalizing, and Intel is even claiming up to 13 per cent better performance compared to a Core i7-7700HQ paired with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.

Here's a look at the performance you can expect, according to Intel. (Image Source: Intel)

The Vega M GH graphics feature 24 Compute Units (CUs) and a boost frequency of up to 1,190MHz. It also boasts the new Vega pixel engine, which was first introduced on AMD’s desktop Vega GPUs.

But what’s interesting is the presence of two separate and fully functional GPU and multimedia subsystems.

The chip features two separate graphics subsystems. (Image Source: Intel)

The display engine comprises the Intel graphics display engine and its Radeon counterpart, with the latter supporting up to six displays and HDR10. On the other hand, the multimedia engine provides dedicated hardware for 4K60 encoding and decoding via the Radeon Multimedia Engine, and also offers Intel-based features like Quick Sync.

You should enjoy improved power efficiency from this design, in part because there are more options to balance power between the two.


Power sharing between CPU and GPU

This brings us to one of the key features of the G-series processors – Intel Dynamic Tuning. This is a custom power sharing framework at the hardware and software level, requiring custom drivers and interfaces to the GPU and HBM2 memory.

This is the first time such a power sharing framework has been implemented. (Image Source: Intel)

In a nutshell, it balances power between the processor and graphics subsystem to achieve the same level of performance while drawing fewer watts, and is the first such implementation of power sharing across the CPU and GPU.

This means real-time temperature, power delivery, and performance state management, which is crucial for building thinner and lighter systems. In addition, manufacturers will have control over the ratio of power sharing between the CPU and GPU based on the intended workloads of their individual systems.


Five different SKUs

The G-series processors will be available in both Core i5 and Core i7 models, including one vPro SKU in the Core i7-8706G.

It’s important to note that Intel doesn’t intend for these chips to replace its H-series processors. Instead, they complement them by providing OEMs with more avenues to create powerful, ultra-portable machines, while still allowing them to push the performance envelope with the H-series processors and discrete graphics.

This isn't just restricted to gaming laptops, and you can expect to see 2-in-1 convertibles and mini PCs with the new chips as well. 

We also won't have to wait too long to see systems rocking the new chips as Dell and HP are already readying laptops with the G-series processors. 

Where available, the new processors will be able to take advantage of overclocking utilities from AMD and Intel, such as Intel XTU and Radeon WattMan. 

In addition, all the features on Radeon Adrenalin Edition are supported, and you'll be able to benefit from things like Radeon Chill, Radeon ReLive, and FreeSync. Intel is even committing to day zero driver releases to support the latest games as they are released.

You'll enjoy the full complement of software utilities and driver support. (Image Source: Intel)

Here's an overview of the specifications of the respective chips and the two Vega M variants:

Intel G-series processor specifications
  Base/ Turbo Boost 2.0 clock Cores/Threads Cache size Memory type Discrete graphics

Processor Core/Graphics & System Memory overclocking

Discrete GPU & HBM2 overclocking

Total package power

Intel Core i7-8809G 3.1GHz/4.2GHz 4/8 8MB Dual-channel DDR4-2400 Radeon RX Vega M GH Yes Yes 100W
Intel Core i7-8709G 3.1GHz/4.1GHz 4/8 8MB Dual-channel DDR4-2400 Radeon RX Vega M GH Yes No 100W
Intel Core i7-8706G 3.1GHz/4.1GHz 4/8 8MB Dual-channel DDR4-2400 Radeon RX Vega M GL Yes No 65W
Intel Core i7-8705G 3.1GHz/4.1GHz 4/8 8MB Dual-channel DDR4-2400 Radeon RX Vega M GL Yes No 65W
Intel Core i5-8305G 2.8GHz/3.8GHz 4/8 6MB Dual-channel DDR4-2400 Radeon RX Vega M GL No No 65W


Radeon RX Vega M graphics specifications

  Compute Units Stream processors Base/Boost clock Memory bandwidth Peak SP performance Texture units ROPs High Bandwidth Cache Memory bus width
Radeon RX Vega M GH 24 1,536 1,063MHz/1,190MHz 204.8GB/s 3.7 TFLOPS 96 64 4GB HBM2 1,024-bit
Radeon RX Vega M GL 20 1,280 931MHz/1,011MHz 179.2GB/s 2.6TFLOPS 80 32 4GB HBM2 1,024-bit