Intel and AMD join forces for the new H-Series CPU

Today at CES 2018, Intel revealed the first “H-Series” 8th generation mobile CPUs with integrated Vega M GPU modules in two flavors: the RX Vega M GL and the RX Vega M GH. The GL is designed for the laptop platform, while the more powerful GH is meant for NUCs and other small desktop devices. The GL will be appearing with mobile i7 and i5 units, while the GH will only be appearing with the i7.

The GH and GL platform pack the CPU and GPU tightly together, ensuring that motherboards can be smaller, allowing for thinner and lighter laptops that still possess graphical grunt.

Lighter is better seems to be the name of the game this year at CES.

The GL

For the GL, Intel promises speeds 1.1 to 1.4x framerate improvements on games like Hitman, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and Vermintide 2 over an i7 8850U laptop sporting the mobile version of the NVIDIA GTX 1050. 

These aren’t exactly competitive gaming framerates, but the GL appears to lift Deus Ex and Hitman out of portable unplayability.

The GH

Compared to 3 year old laptops incorporating the i7-4720HQ and GTX 950M, these chips offer significant benchmark improvements, to the tune of double framerates. We wouldn’t dream of trying to play Hitman at 22 fps, but 62 fps leaves the realm of “decent” and enters the realm of “awesome.” One would hope that the graphical settings were set on high, but details were a little thin on the ground.

The GH also delivers modest improvements over last gen i7-7700HQ with the GTX 1060.

What It All Means

Intel CPUs with integrated GPUs aren’t news - they’ve been offering them since the Clarkdale mobile processors in 2010. But you couldn’t really use them for gaming. They existed less as a performance booster, and more as a lower powered alternative to your laptop’s power-hungry discrete GPU, meant to be used when undertaking productivity tasks rather than gaming or content creation. It’s good to see Intel stepping up their game on this front.

A thin and light GL laptop with graphical punch offers an interesting value proposition to gamers, but this hardware will really shine as an Apple alternative to content creators. If Intel and AMD can deliver thin and light GL-equipped laptops, and do so at a competitive price point (say, ~$1000), while delivering excellent fit, finish, and presentation, they might have a real contender on their hands. It would be neat to see the Microsoft Surface adopt the GH/GL innovations.

I wish there was a way to cram the GH platform into a laptop, because we could really see some impressive performance gains there. Maybe next year!

It will be interesting to see where NVIDIA stands with all of this. With Volta already on the market, we’re curious to see if they work with CPU manufacturers to present an NVIDIA-powered alternative later in 2018.

Intel CPUs with AMD GPUs! AMD CPUs with NVIDIA GPUs!

What a time to be alive.