Kaby Lake-G chip back from the grave, now on modest firewall-router-NAS mobo

Intel CPU that incorporated an AMD GPU into the processor package resurrected by Topton

Kaby Lake-G, the Intel CPU that incorporated an AMD GPU directly into the CPU package itself, was pronounced dead in 2019, but that hasn't stopped one company from reviving it for a mini PC motherboard.

The Kaby Lake-G-powered board popped up on AliExpress, home of many odd computer products, and is otherwise designed for straightforward firewall-router-NAS (network attached storage) computers. It's made by Topton and comes with eight Ethernet ports, two slots for DDR4 SODIMMs, M.2 slots for an NVMe SSD and Wi-Fi card, a SATA port, and of course the Intel Core i7-8705G.

Kaby Lake-G, which launched in 2017, is certainly not the first chip readers might think to use for any application today. There are plenty of NAS-ty motherboards that incorporate mobile silicon from Intel's Tiger Lake and Alder Lake lineups, as well as a surprising amount of models that use AMD's sort-of-current generation Ryzen 7040 series APUs.

Featured in Intel's 8th Gen product stack, Kaby Lake-G was notable for integrating an AMD RX Vega GPU with HBM2 memory onto the CPU package. Given that the two companies have been fierce rivals since the '90s, their collaboration on this scale was unprecedented. It was a strategic move to deny Nvidia the chance to sell MX-series GPUs in lower-power laptops.

Kaby Lake-G was also notable for being the first time Intel ever used its Embedded Multi-Die Interconnect Bridge (EMIB) in one of its processors to connect the Vega GPU to the HBM2. Today, EMIB is used for connecting tiles in Intel's tile-based processors, such as Ponte Vecchio and Meteor Lake. There are definitely hints of Kaby Lake-G in Meteor Lake, though Intel was far from realizing its tile-based vision in 2017, and Kaby Lake-G relied on PCIe for connecting the CPU to the GPU.

However, Kaby Lake-G's fairly modern design and powerful integrated graphics, for the time, didn't save it from failure. It only made its way into the HP Spectre x360, the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1, and Intel's own Hades Canyon NUC in 2018. With just three devices to its name, Kaby Lake-G clearly wasn't moving much volume.

GPU driver support, or lack thereof, was a problem that constantly plagued the Kaby Lake-G platform. Despite the GPU being made by AMD, drivers were offered through Intel, but new drivers came very infrequently, and users sometimes had to wait several months (and in one case a full year) for an update to arrive.

Intel discontinued Kaby Lake-G in 2019, making it one of the company's shortest-lived products. It's a surprise that there are any remaining chips at all, let alone 500 for Topton's i7-8705G motherboards.

The base model without RAM or storage costs $289, and if it weren't for the eight Ethernet ports this would be a pretty bad deal. It may seem questionable to invest in a processor discontinued less than two years after its release, but apparently one brave user has already bought one of the Kaby Lake-G NAS motherboards.

We're wishing them luck on their journey with Kaby Lake-G – they're going to need it. ®

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