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Intel "Tiger Lake" Supports PCIe Gen 4 and Features Xe Graphics, Phantom Canyon NUC Detailed

Intel is working on its next generation gaming-grade NUC, codenamed "Phantom Canyon." When it comes out some time in 2020-21, it will feature Intel's 10 nm+ "Tiger Lake" SoC. Intel detailed this and more in a leaked presentation to industry partners. It describes the launch of of the company's "Ghost Canyon" NUC in Fall 2019 to succeed the current "Hades Canyon" gaming NUC. This box features a Core i9-9980HK processor and discrete graphics options. It will be succeeded in 2020-21 (late 2020 or sometime 2021), by the "Phantom Canyon" NUC that's in development.

The "Phantom Canyon" NUC is powered by a 28 W 10 nm+ "Tiger Lake-U" SoC that features PCI-Express gen 4. The package also implements Intel's "Gen 12" graphics processor that's derived from the Xe architecture it's currently working on, according to Chinese publication PTTWeb. The NUC will also feature discrete graphics options in the price-range of the current GTX 1660 Ti and RTX 2060 ($299 to $349). In related news, we see subtle hints that Intel will give its chipset bus a major update in future generations of its desktop and mobile platforms. Apparently, future platforms could feature DMI spread over 8 lanes as opposed to 4 on current platforms, besides the update to PCIe gen 4. This quadrupling in bandwidth compared to DMI 3.0 (PCIe 3.0 x4) is necessitated by the growth in bandwidth-hungry devices such as NVMe SSDs, external Thunderbolt 3 graphics cards, USB 3.2 flash drives, etc.

Leaked Roadmap Shows Intel's Ghost Canyon X NUC Could Have 8-Core 16-Thread CPU

Intel's Next Unit of Computing (NUC) systems have always offered a great deal of performance in a tiny form factor. Their current lineup which consists of Hades Canyon features Intel's 8th generation of processors and depending on model can also feature an AMD Radeon RX VEGA M graphics processor, that said, the vast majority of units utilize Intel's integrated graphics. The most potent these configuration is Intel's 100W 4c/8t i7-8809G with Radeon RX Vega M GH graphics. It delivers exceptional performance for the size, allowing users to play AAA games at high settings with stable frame rates.

Thanks to a member of the PC EVA forums we now have access to what appears to be a leaked Intel roadmap showcasing their Ghost Canyon X NUC systems. Set to debut in 2019/2020 Intel will be pushing multiple new CPUs for these systems including a 45W 8c/16t i9-9xxxH, 45W 6c/12t i7-9xxxH, and 45W 4c/8t i5-9xxxH. All three feature UHD graphics by Intel, however, what is most interesting there provisions for a single PCIe X16 slot. Now, in reality, the inclusion of a proper PCIe slot is unlikely, I would speculate due to the size that it is, in fact, an MXM slot which limits options to discrete mobile graphics processors which tend to be far more expensive for consumers. Still, more information is required before making any serious judgments one way or the other at this time.

Intel "Crimson Canyon" NUCs with Discrete GPUs Up for Pre-order

One of the first Intel NUC (next unit of computing) mini PCs to feature completely discrete GPUs (and not MCMs of CPUs and GPUs), the "Crimson Canyon" NUC8i3CYSM and NUC8i3CYSN, are up for pre-order. The former is priced at USD $529, while the latter goes for $574. The two combine Intel's 10 nm Core i3-8121U "Cannon Lake" SoC with AMD Radeon 540 discrete GPU. Unlike the "Hades Canyon" NUC, which features an MCM with a powerful AMD Radeon Vega M GPU die and a quad-core "Kaby Lake" CPU die; the "Crimson Canyon" features its processor and GPU on separate packages. The Radeon 540 packs 512 stream processors, 32 TMUs, and 16 ROPs; with 2 GB of GDDR5 memory.

All that's differentiating the NUC8i3CYSM from the NUC8i3CYSN is memory. You get 4 GB of LPDDR4 memory with the former, and 8 GB of it with the latter. Both units come with a 2.5-inch 1 TB HDD pre-installed. You also get an M.2-2280 slot with PCIe 3.0 x4 wiring, and support for Optane caching. Intel Wireless-AC 9560 WLAN card handles wireless networking, while an i219-V handles wired. Connectivity includes four USB 3.0 type-A ports, one of which has high current; an SDXC card reader, CIR, two HDMI 2.0 outputs, and 7.1-channel HD audio. The NUC has certainly grown in size over the years. This one measures 117 mm x 112 mm x 52 mm (WxDxH). An external 90W power-brick adds to the bulk.

Chuwi Prepares Their HiGame Mini Gaming PC with Kaby Lake-G CPU

Chinese tablet and laptop manufacturer Chuwi is working on their HiGame mini gaming PC to rival Intel's latest Hades Canyon NUC. The Chuwi HiGame incorporates an Intel Core i5-8305G quad-core processor with AMD Radeon RX Vega M GL graphics, 8 GB of DDR4 memory, and a 128 GB SSD. Nevertheless, the HiGame has good upgradability. There are two SODIMM DDR4 memory slots, a M.2 PCIe x4 SSD slot, and a 2.5-inch SATA III drive bay onboard so consumers can potentially upgrade the memory to 32 GB and slap an ultra-fast M.2 PCIe SSD into this miniature monster. In terms of size, the HiGame measures 173 mm x 158 mm x 73 mm, which makes it just a tad shorter but fatter than the Hades Canyon NUC.

Unlike Intel's offering, Chuwi's HiGame maintains a more traditional PC look with a Thunderbolt 3 port and accompanying power button on the front. Connectivity won't be a problem on the HiGame as the mini-PC comes with a plethora of ports at the back. There are two HDMI 2.0 ports, two DisplayPorts, a Gigabit ethernet port, five USB 3.0 Type-A ports, a microphone jack, and a headphone jack. While not visible to the naked eye, the Chuwi HiGame also features 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2. Chuwi hasn't announced the pricing for the HiGame yet. However, the Chinese giant plans to launch their Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for the HiGame by the end of April. So keep an eye out for it.

Intel "Hades Canyon" NUC Motherboard Pictured

Intel launched its "Hades Canyon" NUC way back in January 2018, but in the run up to its availability slated for Spring (very soon); the company shared a picture of its motherboard. The non-rectangular board is curved to the shape of the chassis, and is designed to utilize every square cm of precious PCB real-estate. The board has components soldered on both sides. The top side has the various slots (memory and M.2), ports, and headers; while the bottom side has the main Core i7-8709G MCM, the chipset, and some VRM components powering the two. Intel made sure some of the rear I/O ports utilize cutouts in the PCB, so they don't add a precious few millimeters. The NUC's main cooling system, inspired by gaming notebooks, takes up most of the bottom side of the chassis, making contact with the MCM, the PCH, and VRM.
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