This Tuesday, Intel held an all-day digital “Structure Day” convention and took attendees on a deep dive into the structure of upcoming merchandise in all classes: CPUs, GPUs (devoted and built-in), and FPGAs. We realized quite a bit about what Intel’s been engaged on and why, with essentially the most concrete particulars being about essentially the most imminent launch—subsequent month’s Tiger Lake laptop computer processors.
Ditching the ticks, tocks, and plusses
Even for a convention known as “Structure Day,” Intel took us unusually deep into its manufacturing and packaging processes. The day’s shows leaned as closely on enhancements within the particular person transistors and capacitors on-die as they did on enhancements within the processor designs themselves.
Other than the purely academic angle, Intel’s concentrate on the decrease ranges of design appeared to serve two functions. The lower-level focus made Intel’s 10nm course of sound definitely worth the unexpectedly lengthy wait—and it gave Intel an opportunity to ditch the ponderous “++” suffixes to its course of measurement and dub the entire thing a extra human-friendly “SuperFin.”
With the 14nm course of having hit “++++” and the 10nm already on “++,” even Intel’s personal engineers have been beginning to get confused when speaking to at least one one other. So the change is sweet for extra than simply advertising. The SuperFin identify is a portmanteau of “SuperMIM capacitor design” and “redesigned FinFET transistors.”
From micro to macro
The issue with speaking concerning the high quality of particular person transistors and capacitors in an total package deal is that it is tough to translate on to efficiency. So, now that we all know Intel’s been working onerous on the decrease ranges, we transfer on to design ideas which can be somewhat extra acquainted to most—voltages, frequencies, and subprocessors.
Tiger Lake is constructed upon Willow Cove, the microarchitecture which follows Ice Lake’s Sunny Cove. Willow Cove is billed as a major enchancment to Sunny Cove all the best way round, with added security measures, larger cache, and considerably improved clock speeds.
Willow Cove’s added clock velocity would not include an influence consumption handicap. Willow Cove processors have each a bigger dynamic vary and better effectivity than Sunny Cove processors did—they will function at each decrease and better voltages, and their frequencies (which scale with voltage) are larger on the identical voltage as effectively.
We’re additionally wanting ahead to immensely improved built-in graphics. Ice Lake’s Iris+ was a much-needed shot within the arm for Intel’s historically wimpy iGPUs, nevertheless it nonetheless lagged considerably behind AMD’s Vega 11 built-in laptop computer graphics. Tiger Lake does away with Iris+ and introduces the a lot beefier Xe LP as a substitute.
Intel describes its new line of Xe graphics, together with Xe LP, as “business main”—and though the corporate is not speaking benchmarks publicly but, we suspect it isn’t kidding. Leaked Time Spy benchmarks present a Tiger Lake i7-1165G7 beating AMD’s Ryzen 7 4700U on GPUs by a major margin—35 p.c of the uncooked rating.
The identical leaked benchmarks have the four-core / eight-thread i7-1165G7 and the 8c/8t Ryzen 7 4700U in a lifeless warmth for CPU prowess, with successfully indistinguishable scores. It is price noting right here that Time Spy is notoriously thread-limited—regardless of which the Ryzen 7 4800U, with eight cores and 16 threads, does beat the leaked i7-1165G7’s CPU rating by 34 p.c.
Lastly, Tiger Lake will be capable to drive extra shows at larger resolutions—and deal with AI workloads on bigger decision pipelines—than Ice Lake might.
We have not truly gotten our palms on any Tiger Lake elements but, and there is a world of distinction between producer claims and absolutely realized, independently examined programs. However Intel is virtually oozing renewed confidence and making daring, if early, claims. It looks as if a secure guess that Tiger Lake laptop computer CPUs will likely be severe competitors for AMD’s Ryzen 4000—which neither Ice Lake nor Comet Lake actually have been.
The actually attention-grabbing query—and one which Intel remains to be being cagey about—is what number of Tiger Lake CPUs Intel will be capable to provide to OEMs. The corporate’s presenters stated that the 10nm provide issues we noticed in Ice Lake had been “overcome”—however they did not give a lot definition of what that meant.
Once we pressed Intel executives additional, we obtained affirmation that there will not be a repeat of Comet Lake—11th-generation cell elements will likely be 10nm solely, with no competing 14nm announcement. However that declaration got here with some notably cautious hedges about what OEMs select to purchase and for the way lengthy. This might simply be warning, or it might be a sign that Tiger Lake will solely be seen in comparatively low-volume, high-end programs in a lot the identical manner Ice Lake was.