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Eight-core Intel Tiger Lake-H processors arrive for gamers and enterprise

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Intel has bolstered its mobile lineup with new Tiger Lake-H processors, bringing higher core counts and new features for faster enthusiast laptops and mobile workstations.

Announced on Tuesday, the new Tiger Lake-H processors use the Willow Cove core architecture made using Intel’s 10nm SuperFin transistors. According to Intel, Willow Cove boasts up to 20 per cent IPC uplift compared to Sunny Cove, the core architecture of the 10th gen Ice Lake mobile processors.

Tiger Lake-H also comes with a trove of new features with the most notable being PCIe 4.0, Thunderbolt 4, and Wi-Fi 6.

Typically, Intel appends the “H” suffix mobile processor names that have higher performance. These are often used for gaming laptops and mobile workstations. With their introduction, Tiger Lake mobile processors now have three performance tiers: Tiger Lake-H for enthusiast computing, Tiger Lake H35 for mainstream performance, and UP3 for ultraportables.

Specifications chart for consumer Tiger Lake-H processors
Intel Tiger Lake-H consumer lineup. Click to expand.

The new Tiger Lake-H released on May 11 is different from the Tiger Lake-H35 processors launched in January at CES. Tiger Lake-H35 featured four cores, the same number as the low-power (UP3) SKUs, and pushed TPD to 35W to drive a 5 GH peak frequency.

In contrast, all the new Tiger Lake-H processors have more than four cores. The Core i9-11980HK, Core i9-11900H and Core i7-11800H represent the enthusiast range and sports eight cores. The Core i5-11400H and Core i5-11260H have six. The higher core count not only increases multithreaded performance but also levels the competition against AMD’s Ryzen processors.

Power and performance

Only the two Core i9s feature Intel’s Turbo Boost Max technology. Turbo Boost Max increases the clock speeds on two favoured cores beyond the max multi-core frequency if there’s enough power and thermal headroom. With it, the Core i9-11980HK and Core i9-11950H can hit a peak clock of 5GHz and 4.9GHz respectively. Additionally, the Core i9-11980HK can be manually overclocked, but since it’ll likely reside in gaming laptops, its potential will be heavily limited by the cooling solution.

The new Tiger Lake H processors have a 45W TDP, which is also its power limit 1 (PL1). At PL1, the base frequency ranges between 2.3 GHz to 2.7 GHz. To reach the 4.5GHz all-core turbo, Intel set the base PL2 at 107W and performance PL2 at 135W. Turbo duration is 56-second by default, but that limit is configurable by the manufacturer.

Although they sport more processing cores, Tiger Lake-H’s integrated UHD graphics only carries 32 execution units (EU), far fewer than the integrated graphics in the UP3 series. Although this would mean reduced performance in games, most devices with Tiger Lake-H will have dedicated graphics, and creators will still be able to use the dedicated encoder in Quick Sync-enabled software.

Other Tiger Lake-H features include integrated Thunderbolt 4, Wi-Fi 6/6E, resizable BAR, and 29 lanes of PCIe 4 from the CPU. The direct media interface (DMI) that links the CPU to the chipset has been widened from four to eight, providing more bandwidth for high-performance devices routed through the chipset.

A breakdown of Tiger Lake-H's new features in point format.
Intel Tiger Lake-H mobile processor new features list.

Overall, Intel says that the top Tiger Lake-H processor is five towil 21 per cent faster than Comet Lake-H, and 11 to 26 per cent faster than AMD’s Ryzen 9 5900HX in modern game titles. Moreover, Intel showed that the six-core Core i5-11400H is faster than the eight-core Ryzen 9 5900HS in games.

Intel claims that Tiger Lake-H wins in productivity, too. The company claims that Tiger Lake-H is 20 per cent faster in video creation and 22 per cent faster in photo processing than the previous gen. It’s also shown to be up to 24 per cent faster than the Ryzen 9 5900HX in specific tasks like content-aware fill.

Performance comparison between Intel Core i9-11980HK and AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX.
AMD’s Ryzen mobile processors have been praised for their exceptional performance, but Intel says that Tiger Lake-H can best it in both productivity and gaming.

In parallel to the consumer processors, Intel also announced the vPro H and Xeon W-11000 processors for mobile workstations. In addition to high core count, they also support enterprise-focused features such as ECC memory, Intel Hardware Shield, and memory encryption. Intel says that its new workstation processors are up to 29 per cent faster in product development and media creation than the previous generation.

Specifications chart for commercial Tiger Lake-H processors
Intel Tiger Lake-H commercial lineup. Click to expand.

Tiger Lake-H will arrive in more than 80 designs at launch. More designs will come later in the year.

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