Intel is betting its 11th Gen Tiger Lake processors and integrated Xe graphics will give it a leg up on AMD in the ultra-thin, high-performance laptop market.
Intel officially announced its 11th Gen Intel Core processors during a virtual "Something Big" launch event on September 2, 2020. The company had previewed the chips at its Architecture Day 2020 event in August this year.
The new 11th Generation "Willow Cove" chips are part of Intel's Tiger Lake system-on-chip (SoC). Tiger Lake is the successor to Intel's Lake Field SoC, and Willow Cove is the successor to Sunny Cove CPUs. The 11th Gen Intel Core processors will have four cores built on the Willow Cove microarchitecture. Willow Cove core performance will top out at 4.8 GHz compared to 4.0 GHz for the 10th generation cores.
The Tiger Lake SoC will include an 11th Generation Intel Core processor, a low-power version Intel's integrated Iris Xe graphics (Xe-LP), a new memory controller, and greater AI acceleration. Tiger Lake also supports PCIe Gen 4, Wi-Fi 6, and Thunderbolt 4.
The new processors are built with Intel's 10nm SuperFin process technology. During the event, Boyd Phelps, VP of Intel's Client Engineering and Design Engineering Groups, described SuperFin as a new "high-performance 60 [nm] poly pitch transistor that increases drive current, thanks to an improved gate process and gives us higher mobility and lower source drain resistance."
Intel also optimized their "existing high-Vt transistors to improve leakage, performance and variation," Phelps said. "And then used them for non-high-frequency and leakage-sensitive IPs." According to Phelps, this new design provides "all the performance of previous generations at lower voltages than most folks ever believed possible."
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Intel Evo laptops coming Fall 2020
Tiger Lake is designed for high-performance, ultra-thin laptops and in addition to the new chips, Intel also announced the Intel Evo platform brand. Only laptops that meet a set of key experience indicators (KEIs) will be able to carry the Intel Evo badge. Those KEIs include:
- Consistent responsiveness on battery.
- Wake from sleep in less than 1 second.
- 9 or more hours of real-world battery life on laptops with full HD display.
- 4 or more hours of battery life in a 30-minute charge on laptops with full HD display.
The Intel Evo KEIs are the latest iteration of Intel's Project Athena program, designed to encourage laptop manufacturers build devices that "aligning innovation to address people's needs, challenges and expectations of their devices to deliver better experiences on the laptop for years to come."
As of publication, Intel Evo partners include Acer, Asus, Dell, Dynabook, HP, Lenovo, LG, MSI, Razer, and Samsung.
During the event, Intel showed off several laptops that are slated for released this fall, including the new Samsung Galaxy Book Flex 5G, which will be the 5G Intel Evo laptop.
Intel bets Xe graphics and "integrate platform approach" will trump core count
Rival chipmaker AMD currently leads Intel when it comes to raw core count in mobile processors. The AMD Ryzen 4000 series processors can have up to 8 cores operating at up to 4.1 GHz. Intel is betting that its upgraded Xe graphics will help Tiger Lake, and its four cores, provide better performance for real-world tasks, such as photo/video editing and PC gaming.
During the event, Intel showed multiple head-to-head comparisons of its 11th Gen chip against an AMD 4800U and an Nvidia MX350 GPU and 10th Gen Intel Core processor combo. Intel showed their new chip besting the AMD 4800U when editing photos in Adobe Photoshop Elements and Topaz Labs' Gigapixel AI and exporting video on Adobe Premium Pro. During Intel's demo using the Gears Tactics game, the 11th Gen chip delivered a higher frame rate than either the AMD or the Nvidia/10th Gen Intel chip combo.
We'll have to wait until we get laptops with Intel's 11th Gen chips to determine if the company's focus on "measuring more than benchmarks" will translate into better all-around performance.
New Intel corporate logo
During the event Intel also officially rolled out a new company logo. The logo drops the oval-shaped "swoosh" that was added to Intel logo in 2006 and features a new cleaner look and font.
"Today, we make a leap into the future, with a transformed Intel brand that reflects our essential role in creating technology that moves the world forward," wrote Karen Walker, Intel SVP and Chief Marketing Officer, in a blog post about the change.
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