Just weeks after unveiling the first models in its 10th Gen Core CPU lineup, Intel has now announced another series based on a different architecture, but targeted at the same segment. The ‘Ice Lake' family of chips announced on August 1 are based on Intel's next-gen ‘Ice Lake' architecture and are the company's first mass-market chips to be manufactured on a 10nm process, whereas the newly announced ‘Comet Lake' family still uses a mature 14nm manufacturing process and is an incremental update to the current ‘Coffee Lake' design. Both Ice Lake and Comet Lake CPUs will be sold as 10th Gen Intel Core U-series and Y-series models, and both are aimed at the thin-and-light notebook segment.
There are four ‘Comet Lake' U-series models and four Y-series ones. These families of CPUs will have 15W and 7W nominal TDPs respectively, though laptop OEMs can choose to configure U-series models to up to 25W, while Y-series parts can be designed for thermal environments between 4.5W and 9W.
Intel is positioning ‘Comet Lake' CPUs as well suited for workhorse laptops which can benefit from having more cores and higher clock speeds. On the other hand, ‘Ice Lake' is said to deliver new AI processing capabilities thanks to the brand new Sunny Cover core design, as well as a new higher-performance Gen11 integrated GPU. ‘Comet Lake' chips will not benefit from this new GPU, but they will feature integrated Wi-Fi 6 and Thunderbolt 3.
An overview of the differences between the two coexisting architectures
The ‘Comet Lake' family includes Intel's first six-core, 12-thread U-series laptop CPU, the Core i7-10710U. This top-end CPU has a 1.1GHz base frequency and 4.7GHz maximum single-core boost frequency, along with 12MB of cache. There's an additional quad-core Core i7 model, one quad-core Core i5, and one dual-core Core i3 in the U-series, while the Y-series consists of one quad-core Core i7, two quad-core Core i5s, and one dual-core Core i3.
Intel is claiming up to 16 percent overall performance improvement and up to 41 percent better performance specifically in productivity and multitasking workloads. Intel is also marketing its Adaptix toolkit, an umbrella term for the company's Dynamic Tuning Technology aimed at OEMs as well as the Performance Maximizer, Graphics Command Center, and Extreme Tuning Utility software which are all available to end users.
There will also be completely different naming conventions for ‘Comet Lake' and ‘Ice Lake' CPUs. The former will match the existing numbering scheme with a segment indicator suffix, but will move from four digits to five as model names will begin with 10 to denote the 10th generation. The latter will have four digits plus an alphanumeric modifier to indicate the relative power of their integrated GPUs.
Laptop buyers should familiarise themselves with Intel's convoluted new numbering scheme
The news comes after rumours suggested that Intel is still not able to manufacture 10nm CPUs in very large volumes, and as a result would need to supplement its 10nm offerings with 14nm ones till at least 2021. The company itself had previously announced a new strategy of mixing architectures and manufacturing processes within each generation in order to better target the needs of different product segments. However, this is the first time that multiple architectures will be used within a segment.
Laptops based on ‘Comet Lake' CPUs will be available for purchase in time for the US holiday shopping season, which indicates late in Q3 or early Q4. Devices could be announced at the upcoming IFA 2019 trade show in Berlin, which has become a popular event for consumer electronics launches. Some of these models will benefit from Intel's Project Athena initiative which promises better battery life, responsiveness, and connectivity. Intel recently announced that Project Athena laptops will have a separate badge and can be marketed as 'Engineered for Mobile Performance'.