Intel Launches 10th Gen Ice Lake Mobile Processors with Gen11 Graphics
A new 10nm Sunny Cove architecture with a major leap in graphics performance for thin and light notebooks
Intel today is finally revealing the details of its new 10th Generation Core Processors, codenamed Ice Lake. Launching with mobile SKUs at up to 28W TDP, Ice Lake is based on the new 10nm Sunny Cove microarchitecture and is therefore the second “architecture” step in Intel’s “Process-Architecture-Optimization” model. It is also the first major architectural change since Skylake in 2015.
Ice Lake will be the first 10nm part (10nm CPU, 14nm PCH) from Intel to ship in volume following last year’s limited release of Cannon Lake, and it plays a role in Intel’s new Project Athena initiative for powerful, efficient, and feature-rich laptop designs (we go into more detail on Project Athena in a separate article). Ice Lake will also feature Intel’s new Gen11 integrated graphics with greater than 1TFLOP performance capability.
Ice Lake Specs & Features
The full SKU lineup isn’t available as of the date of this article’s publication, but we have the basic technical specifications to share.
|Intel Ice Lake Specs|
|Processor Classes||Core i3, i5, i7|
|TDP||9W, 15W, 28W|
|Cores/Threads||Up to 4C/8T|
|Cache||Up to 8MB|
|Max Turbo Frequency||Up to 4.1GHz|
|Graphics||Intel Iris Plus (up to 64EU)|
Intel UHD Graphics
|Graphics Frequency||Up to 1.1GHz|
|Thunderbolt 3||Up to 4x, 40Gbps bi-directional per port|
|Display Output||Up to 5K60 or 4K120|
DisplayPort 1.4, BT.2020
|I/O||x6 USB 3.1 (x10 USB 2)|
x16 Gen3 PCIe
x3 SATA 6Gbps
The new Sunny Cove architecture in Ice Lake improves and expands upon the features of its Skylake and Haswell predecessors. L1 Cache increases from 32KB to 48KB and L2 from 256KB to 512KB, while a number of new instructions and capabilities are added to boost crypto performance and inference workloads.
Overall, Intel advertises an average 18 percent IPC improvement for Ice Lake over Skylake, with some workloads registering IPC jumps from 30 to 40 percent. As Intel often does in order to entice upgraders, the company also compared Ice Lake performance to that of much older generations of Core processors. With a baseline of a 15-watt 5th Gen Broadwell part, Ice Lake’s single-core performance is nearly 50 percent higher.
Another key feature is the long-awaited integration of Thunderbolt 3 and Wi-Fi 6. Removing the need for separate Thunderbolt and Wi-Fi controllers can help simplify board design and reduce size, reduce costs, and allow for easier worldwide regulatory approval and certification. The integrated Thunderbolt controller will support the new USB4 specification and Intel’s Wi-Fi 6 will optionally support 160MHz frequencies with Overlapping BSS for improved speeds and network reliability. Intel is calling its Wi-Fi 6 implementation the “best for PCs and routers/gateways.”
Depending on your intended workloads, the new Gen11 graphics in Ice Lake may be the most important feature of the release. Intel is touting performance improvements as much as 2x over Gen9, as we saw in the company’s pre-Computex event on Sunday.
That improvement is driven by a move to 64 execution units (EU) with frequencies up to 1.1GHz, which equates to maximum performance of just over 1 TFLOP.
In terms of gaming, Intel is targeting a “1080p experience” and says that Gen11 graphics in Ice Lake can provide at least 30fps in popular modern games, while easily hitting 60fps+ in older titles. And thanks to the inclusion of Adaptive Sync support, gamers won’t be bothered by stuttering or screen tearing if frame rates fluctuate.
Intel is also stepping up its pace of driver and software development. The company has worked with developers to detect optimal resolution and quality settings for more than 400 games in order to enable the best possible experience for gamers using Intel integrated graphics and has pledged to continue offering day zero support for major releases. As for Linux users, Intel has already enabled beta support and plans on a full release by the end of Q3.
Intel knows that this is not a “gaming first” product, and even hearing “30fps” can be troubling for PC gaming enthusiasts. But the point is that Intel has made a huge leap in graphics this generation, to the point where your thin and light work laptop can still provide a decent gaming experience wherever you are.
DL Boost: Inference @ Home
What was initially an enterprise-focused craze for AI computing advancements is coming to consumers. Intel’s Deep Learning (DL) Boost technology — specialized instructions that accelerate AI inference workloads — are included in Sunny Cove.
For the applications that can take advantage of this AI acceleration, users will see significant performance improvements compared to previous Intel parts which lack DL Boost. Example workloads include automatically recognizing and searching for images containing designated keywords in the Windows 10 Photos app, automatically de-blurring out-of-focus images in CyberLink PhotoDirector, automatically filtering out background noise from a voice chat, and stylizing videos in real time with PowerDirector.
Intel is aiming for broad support for AI and machine learning frameworks, and has thus far announced compatibility with Windows ML, Apple CoreML, and of course OpenVINO.
Another Manufacturer’s Device
Much of the news this week at Computex is focused on AMD’s announcements of third generation Ryzen for the desktop, EPYC Rome, and Navi graphics. The company already released its new mobile Ryzen processors earlier this year at CES.
While Intel and the industry are therefore reacting to this strong new competition on the desktop and in the server space, Intel has an opportunity to hold steady in mobile with this initial Sunny Cove and Ice Lake launch. There will be a number of systems with Ice Lake processors announcing alongside Intel today and shipping soon.