Intel’s H-Series Adds High Performance CPUs to 10th Gen Mobile Lineup

Intel’s H-Series Adds High Performance CPUs to 10th Gen Mobile Lineup

New Comet Lake Processors Include 8-Core/16-Thread Core i9-10980HK @ 5.3 GHz

Until today the available high-performance H-series processors from Intel remained 9th-Gen Coffee Lake, with the 8-core, 16-thread Core i9-9980HK leading the 45W mobile lineup.

With the new flagship, the Core i9-10980HK, Intel’s replacement for the i9-9980HK is again a Skylake derivative, again a 8-core, 16-thread configuration, and again manufactured using the latest iteration of company’s 14nm process technology.

The focus with this top-end SKU is its very high frequency, with the maximum single-core clock of 5.3 GHz representing a 300 MHz Max Turbo increase (from 5.0 GHz to 5.3 GHz) over its 9th Gen predecessor.

Intel's H-Series Adds High Performance CPUs to 10th Gen Mobile Lineup - Processors  1

Called “the fastest mobile processor” by Intel at the top of this slide, the claim is based on the i9-10980HK’s maximum achievable single-core frequency. From the footnote:

“Based on Intel Core i9-10980HK’s highest achievable max turbo frequency of 5.3GHz, exceeding all other mobile products available as of April 2020. Includes use of Intel Thermal Velocity Boost.“

Note the use of the word fastest here. They are apparently not claiming that it is the highest performing mobile processor, though that remains to be seen once reviewers can go hands on with shipping laptops.

Intel's H-Series Adds High Performance CPUs to 10th Gen Mobile Lineup - Processors  2

Another question that might be raised when attempting to objectively interpret the frequencies shown on the slides: just what is Intel’s Thermal Velocity Boost? The answer is right there on the slide; it is a method by which clock speeds can be temporarily increased beyond Turbo Boost frequencies. Described by Intel:

“…a feature that opportunistically and automatically increases clock frequency above single-core and multi-core Intel Turbo Boost Technology frequencies based on how much the processor is operating below its maximum temperature and whether turbo power budget is available. The frequency gain and duration is dependent on the workload, capabilities of the processor and the processor cooling solution.

With such a focus on frequency, Intel’s partners will certainly need to optimize their thermal designs to help sustain the highest boost clocks. Regardless of how well optimized Intel’s 14nm process has become, hitting clocks speeds like 5.3 GHz for any length of time will likely be challenging – though, in fairness, the expected home of 45W processors like this is a larger design with a more robust cooling solution than thin-and-light models.

There is more to the announcement than the Core i9-10980HK, of course, with a total of six new H-Series SKUs including new Core i7 and Core i5 models:

Intel's H-Series Adds High Performance CPUs to 10th Gen Mobile Lineup - Processors  3

Memory support has been bumped up to DDR4-2933 with the H-Series (from DDR4-2666 with the 9th Gen H-Series), and the Core i9-10980HK is an unlocked part – with the i7-10850H offering a ‘partial’ unlock (limited multiplier?).

Adding these new mobile parts to the U-Series announced back in August gives us this more complete picture of the 10th Generation Comet Lake family – and remember, this is distinct from the 10th Gen “Ice Lake” processors manufactured using Intel’s 10nm process.

10th Gen Intel Core “Comet Lake”
H-Series and U-Series Mobile Processors
Processor Cores/Threads Base Clock Max Turbo Clock Intel Smart Cache TDP Memory Support
Core i9-10980HK 8/16 2.4 GHz 5.3 GHz 16 MB 45W DDR4-2933
Core i7-10875H 8/16 2.3 GHz 5.1 GHz 16 MB 45W DDR4-2933
Core i7-10850H 6/12 2.7 GHz 5.1 GHz 12 MB 45W DDR4-2933
Core i7-10750H 6/12 2.6 GHz 5.0 GHz 12 MB 45W DDR4-2933
Core i5-10400H 4/8 2.6 GHz 4.6 GHz 8 MB 45W DDR4-2933
Core i5-10300H 4/8 2.5 GHz 4.5 GHz 8 MB 15W/25W DDR4-2933
Core i7-10710U 6/12 1.1 GHz 4.7 GHz 12 MB 15W/25W LPDDR4x-2933
LPDDR3-2133
DDR4-2666
Core i5-10510U 4/8 1.8 GHz 4.9 GHz 8 MB 15W/25W LPDDR4x-2933
LPDDR3-2133
DDR4-2666
Core i5-10210U 4/8 1.6 GHz 4.2 GHz 6 MB 15W/25W LPDDR4x-2933
LPDDR3-2133
DDR4-2666
Core i3-10110U 2/4 2.1 GHz 4.1 GHz 4 MB 15W/25W LPDDR4x-2933
LPDDR3-2133
DDR4-2666

The 400 Series Platform

Of course the overall experience with a notebook is reliant on more than just the CPU, and if we look past the processor architecture from Intel’s 10th Gen H-series CPUs we see a compelling platform beneath. Intel has emphasized connectivity, with the 400-series chipset offering integrated Wi-Fi 6 support with Comet Lake-U and now Comet Lake-H. Intel also offers Thunderbolt 3 with their platform, something AMD’s Ryzen 4000 processors do not support.

Intel's H-Series Adds High Performance CPUs to 10th Gen Mobile Lineup - Processors  4

It might seem like a small thing, particularly to prospective buyers of high-end dedicated gaming laptops, but the presence of Thunderbolt 3 alone could be looked at as a potential dealbreaker; making models equipped with Intel’s new H-Series parts more attractive than AMD’s Ryzen 4000 machines in those cases (depending on a user’s needs).

Another ingredient in the platform pie is PCI Express, and here in both PCIe generation (Gen3) and total number of available lanes from the CPU (16), the two are tied. AMD’s Ryzen 4000 platform offers 8 PCIe lanes for dedicated graphics and 8 lanes (x4/x4) for fast storage support.

10th Gen H-Series CPUs also offer 16 PCIe Gen3 CPU lanes with the CPUs, boasting 40 total platform lanes. Intel says their CPU PCIe lanes “can be configured as 1×16, 2×8, or 1×8 and 2×4 depending on motherboard designs”.

Intel’s Ryzen 4000 Problem

AMD’s Ryzen 4000 mobile processors have received some very positive reviews in recent days, with the top-end Ryzen 9 4900HS featured in the launch product, the ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14. This 8-core, 16-thread CPU offers clocks of up to 4.4 GHz, which is quite a bit lower than the max Turbo of 5.0 GHz from Intel’s 8c/16t Core i9-9900HK. That didn’t seem to matter, based on launch reviews like this (PC World).

If the Core i9-10980HK’s high Turbo clocks can be sustained Intel may just be able to reclaim the performance crown, but as this is a mobile product that will depend on the design/implementation of the shipping laptop. Another complication for Intel is that, while we are seeing glowing reviews for the Ryzen 9 4900HS, we don’t have AMD’s 45W numbers yet, with the full Ryzen 9 4900H offering higher base and boost clock speeds than the 35W “HS” variant.

We await real-world testing with Intel’s newest H-Series CPUs to answer some of these questions.

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About The Author

Sebastian Peak

Editor-in-Chief at PC Perspective. Writer of computer stuff, vintage PC nerd, and full-time dad. Still in search of the perfect smartphone. In his nonexistent spare time Sebastian's hobbies include hi-fi audio, guitars, and road bikes. Currently investigating time travel.

2 Comments

  1. DenpaPC

    For the Intel parts that 5+ GHz that’s on how many cores at once and the all core base/boost sustainability is another factor as well and AMD’s H/HS series laptop parts on TSMC 7nm are really amazing at lower wattage now. There is those laptop OEM’s custom form factors and cooling solutions to consider as well and that does not favor fast and hot laptop chips for the most part on laptops.

    Laptop SKUs are all such custom/bespoke affairs that apples to apples comparisons are not easy to accomplish unless the same laptop form factor make and model from the same OEM includes booth AMD’s H/HS and Intel’s H options. So for that matter more thorough testing and reading of fine print is required.

    So I’ll be looking for der8auer to maybe look at that sustained 5+ Ghz metric on some laptops if possible. But AMD’s H/HS series parts are really at the point where Intel still has to continue to double down as Zen 3 is arriving for Desktop 4000 series Ryzen this year and Schenker’s(Clevo) XMG APEX 15 with Ryzen 9 3950X Laptop will probably be getting an update as well on that improved TSMC 7nm node to some Ryzen 4000(Zen-3) series desktop parts.

    Intel is still re-spinning 14nm and maybe back porting onto 14nm as well with some newer CPU designs all while AMD’s APUs/CPUs TSMC 7nm/7nm improved nodes are available/becoming available and TSMC is also in 5nm production and looking at 3nm. And AMD’s really going to have Zen-4 for 2021 on 5nm and that’s really going to give AMD even more headroom on any Zen-4 laptop SKUs in 2021-2022.

    Intel has to match AMD’s now rapid CPU/GPU micro-architectural generation release cadence and really AMD’s executing perfectly and more rapidly on offering improvements there. So Intel can not afford to be continually behind again when Zen-3/Ryzen 4000 desktop parts arrive on an Improved 7nm/TSMC node and some Laptop makers already making use of desktop Ryzen 3000(Zen-2) in laptops and looking to move to Ryzen 4000(Zen-3) desktop parts based laptops on those flagship laptops. And Zen-2 Ryzen 3000 Desktop/Zen-2(Ryen 4000 APU) parts RTM and Zen-3 4000 series desktop parts arriving soon and the Ryzen 5000(Zen-3) APUs/Navi graphics probably already being getting ready for some initial engineering sampling as well.

    Intel’s Thunderbolt 3 IP is still an attraction on laptops that AMD has to solve with USB 4 support ASAP on regular from factor laptops for external GPU enclosure usage and Micron is now selling its QuantX branded XPoint SSDs for the server market and AMD really needs to partner with Micron on some XPoint M.2/NVM SSD options for AMD’s Laptop partners. And interestingly Micron is also entering the HBM market as well with Micron HBM2 offerings in addition to SK Hynix and Samsung(The HBM market leader). And AMD needs to watch out for Intel’s EMIB on any Laptop SKUs with HBM2 and Xe graphics. So AMD will have to seriously look at MCM based APUs or AMD may be behind in that crucial area to Intel.

    Mobile laptop competition is now here with Zen-2/Ryzen 4000 APUs and that’s a larger market TAM than Desktop that Intel will want to protect for market share. And I just Purchased an ASUS TUF FX505DY laptop with a Ryzen 5 3550H and Radeon RX 560X discrete mobile GPU for $499 and that laptop is a great replacement for my Intel core i7 Ivy Bridge/Redeon 7650M based HP Probook. And Intel has to match AMD’s lower pricing/performance metrics more closely this time around.

    There are now 3 generations of Ryzen APUs on the market and most have great integrated graphics and the 2 older Ryzen generation APUs are going on sale at a fraction of what Intel/Laptop partners are charging for older Intel Generation Mobile/Laptop offerings. So I’m more impressed by base and sustained all core boost clocks than I’ll ever be by some peak turbo boost metrics but that’s me any my workloads and that may be different for others. So I look forward to more laptop benchmarking going forward and wold love to see more on that 16 core Schenker(Ryzen 9 3950X) laptop and maybe soon there will be some Zen-3/4000 offering as well.

    Reply
    • BigTed

      I take it you’re self isolating? 😉

      Reply

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