There were several announcements at the tail end of Intel’s CES keynote that I want to round up. While the company didn’t give a great deal of information about any of them, the topics are worth rounding up collectively.
First up, Tiger Lake. This is the follow-up to Intel’s 10nm+ Ice Lake and it’s built on the 10nm++ process node. Intel didn’t provide any performance data for the CPU, but promised “double-digit” performance improvements compared with the previous generation. Unfortunately, it’s not clear which products he’s comparing against. The 10th Generation CPU family contains 14nm six-core CPUs clocked at 1.1GHz base – 4.7GHz boost as well 10nm quad-core CPUs with much higher IPC but reduced clock speed (1.3GHz base, 3.9GHz boost).
It’s not clear if Tiger Lake’s performance improvements will come from further IPC gains or higher clocks, but Intel’s later versions of a node have previously offered substantially higher clocks than the initial flavors. 14nm++ hit much higher clocks than Intel’s original 14nm, and it’s possible that 10nm++ will restore some of the frequency Intel gave up when it shifted from Coffee Lake (14nm++) to Ice Lake (10nm+).
Tiger Lake CPUs will use Intel’s Xe graphics, while some of the company’s notebooks are expected to ship with its first dGPU, the Intel DGX1. The company showed off a prototype foldable 17-inch laptop (Horseshoe Bend), alongside foldable designs from Dell and Lenovo. Intel claimed that Tiger Lake is “coming soon,” but didn’t provide a launch date.
Project Athena designs are expected to grow dramatically, with more than 50 devices certified by the end of 2020, including certification for dual-screen devices. Chromebooks are also allowed to get in on the Project Athena action, and both Asus and Samsung showcased devices that comply with the standard. Project Athena laptops meet aggressive targets Intel has set for app launches, boot time, and system wake-up, along with optimized power/performance capabilities to maximize system responsiveness while sacrificing a minimal amount of battery life. One of Intel’s specific announcements involved 5G: While Intel is out of that market in terms of its own modem business, it’ll team up with MediaTek to launch 5G-equipped laptops before the end of the year rather than in 2021.
Intel and AMD took dramatically different approaches to their discussions of mobile products at CES this year. AMD’s keynote emphasized the various improvements the company had made to the silicon inside the Ryzen Mobile 4000 series, while Intel’s discussions of mobile emphasized partner relationships and product launches. This reflects the relative market strength of each company, at least to a certain extent. AMD has always been weakest in mobile, which is why winning a Surface Laptop design with Microsoft was such a big deal for the company. The biggest gains for Intel with Tiger Lake are likely to be on the GPU side, where a Xe-derived GPU with 96 EUs will offer significantly more performance than the 64 EUs of Gen 11 graphics inside Ice Lake.
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