Apple is Using Intel’s 5W Amber Lake Processor in the New MacBook Air

BY Evan Selleck

Published 30 Oct 2018

Apple on Tuesday announced the new MacBook Air, the company’s entry-level computer that’s a massive upgrade when compared to the previous generation model.

The major takeaway at this point is the adoption of a Retina display and Touch ID in the new MacBook Air, two of the most oft-requested features for the laptop lineup. Of course, Apple made some other changes as well, including a brand new, eighth-generation Intel Core processor under the hood. But some new information has shed some light on the specifics.

AnandTech‘s coverage of today’s MacBook Air announcement has an interesting detail. Namely, the publication points out that the details for the 8th-Gen Intel Core i5 processor that Apple has listed on its site don’t actually match up with any current 8th-Gen Intel Core processor. Apple’s boast that the new processor can be turbo charged up to 3.6GHz, and that it is coupled with Intel’s UHD Graphics 617, was what gave it away, apparently.

So, what’s Apple using? The publication has determined that it’s an unannounced 5-Watt Y-series chip, specifically an Amber Lake model. Intel first launched Amber Lake back in August of this year. So while power consumption should be significantly reduced with this new processor, it appears that the performance gains could have been optimal if the company had stuck with the U-series of processors from Intel:

“At a minimum, it’s clear that this is one of Intel’s 5 Watt Y-series chips – almost certainly Amber Lake. Launched back in August, Amber Lake is Intel’s latest-generation 5W chips and goes under the 8th Gen Core branding. Compared to the Broadwell (5th Gen Core) chips in the previous MacBook Air, these chips represent a big step up in capabilities and performance, incorporating a newer CPU core design as well as a newer GPU design. However it’s also notable that the new chips, even in cTDP up mode, are also much lower power than the older 15W U-series chips Apple used, which means that processor power consumption should be significantly reduced – and the chips thinner as well – though the total performance gain won’t be quite as much as if Apple had stuck with U-series chips.”

This also sticks out because Apple is only offering a single processor option for the MacBook Air with this iteration of the lineup. No options when it comes to this detail. That may not be the best possible scenario for some potential buyers, but considering this is the company’s entry-level laptop, but refreshed and slightly more expensive than the previous model, having only one option doesn’t seem completely ridiculous.

[via AnandTech]