Apple's new MacBook Air actually uses a 7W processor

For the first time in years, Apple yesterday announced a new MacBook Air with modern specs. The laptop has a Retina display and eighth-generation processors, replacing the old model that had a 1440x900 display and fifth-generation 'Broadwell' processors.

The only problem is that the CPU that Apple described didn't exist. It's an eighth-generation dual-core processor, which means that it's from the Y-series 'Amber Lake' lineup, but there wasn't a Core i5 model with a 1.6GHz clock speed or UHD Graphics 617, until now.

As spotted by Thurrott, the new MacBook Air uses a Core i5-8210Y, a chip that's shown up on Intel's site today. This is actually a 7W CPU, where the rest of the Amber Lake lineup has a 5W TDP (seventh-generation Y-series processors were 4.5W). It also has UHD Graphics 617, while the rest of lineup uses UHD Graphics 615.

Previously, the MacBook Air has used U-series CPUs, which are typically 15W, although the new Iris Plus models are actually 28W, and that's what's in the new MacBook Pros. The standard U-series processors that we would have expected in the Air are still 15W, but they're quad-core now. Previous generations were dual-core, and it will be interesting to see how the fifth-generation 15W chip stands up to the new 7W processor in the new model.

There are some minor changes between the Core i5-8210Y and the more standard Core i5-8200Y. The clock speed is one, and it also has a lower max turbo frequency at 3.6GHz. The base graphics frequency is the same at 300MHz, but the max dynamic frequency is higher at 1.05GHz instead of 950MHz. It also supports LPDDR3-2133 memory instead of LPDDR3-1866. Everything else is the same, as it supports up to 16GB RAM, it has 10 PCI Express lanes, and it's built on 14nm nodes.

Interestingly, the Core i5-8210Y is actually cheaper than the 8200Y at $281, while the latter costs $291. For comparison, a Core i5-8250U is listed at $297, so it doesn't cost much more to go to a full U-series processor, which is what's typically found in ultrabooks and convertibles. The reason that some companies go with Y-series is because the lower power allows for a fanless design, although companies like Microsoft and Huawei have been able to build PCs with full U-series processors and no fan.

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