2019 Intel CPU plans point to Wi-Fi 6 and much faster integrated graphics in MacBooks

Intel hasn’t yet revealed its 2019 CPU line-up, but it has disclosed the names of this year’s chips and given a few details about what we can expect from them.

We can never know for sure when Apple will adopt a new generation of Intel CPU even when it is available, but we can make some educated guesses …

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Macworld’s Jason Cross has done just that.

Skylake will finally get a successor in Sunny Cove. Sunny Cove will first appear in a family of processors known as Ice Lake. They will be 10nm CPUs across a range of performance and power requirements, so we can probably expect to see them in MacBooks of all stripes, the Mac mini, and iMacs.

One big improvement it is expected to offer is integrated graphics performance – though not of a level that would get anywhere close to today’s discrete GPU options in the MacBook Pro.

The fastest Intel integrated graphics in Macs today is the Iris Plus 655 GPU with 48 execution units—Ice Lake has up to 50 percent more, along with a handful of efficiency improvements. Intel says it will offer up to a teraflop of graphics performance, which is a big step up from Intel’s current graphics offerings, but far behind the Vega Pro 16 (2.4 TFlops) or even the Radeon Pro 560X (2.0 TFlops) that you can get in 15-inch MacBook Pros today. It will also support Adaptive Sync on external displays.

Ice Lake also integrates Wi-Fi 6, the new branding for 802.11ax, offering gigabit speeds alongside lower latency, faster initial connection and improvements to both range and security.

The low-power Y series version of Ice Lake promises substantial speed improvements, likely to represent good news for future MacBook Air and 12-inch MacBook models.

Cross thinks we shouldn’t expect much from the next-gen iMac Pro, however.

What is coming this year is Cascade Lake-X, the update for Xeon products. It is still based on a 14nm manufacturing process and doesn’t feature huge architectural changes, but it may offer more cores and threads than the 18-core, 36-thread Xeon W-2190B in top-of-the-line iMac Pros today. Even at the same core counts, it should offer slightly better performance and power use.

That also suggests that the upcoming Mac Pro may not offer notably greater performance than the iMac Pro, since it’s likely to use the same Cascade Lake-X chip. However, the Mac Pro is expected to offer a lot of upgrade potential in graphics and storage.

While Apple is believed to be working on dropping Intel altogether in favor of its own ARM-based custom processors, that’s not expected to happen before 2020 at the earliest. Things could get pretty interesting at that point, especially as it could signal quite a different approach to build-to-order models.

It was this week suggested that Apple’s chip guru Johny Srouji is on Intel’s shortlist as a potential new CEO for the company.

Photo: Shutterstock

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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