At this time, Intel is launching a brand new collection of 14nm pocket book CPUs code-named Comet Lake. Going by Intel’s numbers, Comet Lake appears to be like like a reliable improve to its predecessor Whiskey Lake. The fascinating query—and one largely left unanswered by Intel—is why the corporate has determined to launch a brand new line of 14nm pocket book CPUs lower than a month after launching Ice Lake, its first 10nm pocket book CPUs.

Each the Comet Lake and Ice Lake pocket book CPU traces this month include a full vary of i3, i5, and i7 cell CPUs in each high-power (U-series) and low-power (Y-series) variants. This provides as much as a complete of 19 Intel pocket book CPU fashions launched in August, and we anticipate to see numerous follow-on confusion. Throughout the briefing name, Intel executives didn’t wish to reply to questions on differentiation between the Comet Lake and Ice Lake traces based mostly on both efficiency or value, however the technical specs lead us to imagine that Ice Lake is probably going the much more enticing product line for many customers.

Intel’s U-series CPUs for each Comet Lake and Ice Lake function at a nominal 15W TDP. Each traces additionally assist a “Config Up” 25W TDP, which might be enabled by OEMs who select to supply the cooling and battery sources essential to assist it.

Issues get extra fascinating for the lower-powered Y-series—Ice Lake affords 9W/12W configurable TDP, however Comet Lake undercuts that to 7W/9W. That is already a big drop in energy finances, which Comet Lake takes even additional by providing a brand new Config Down TDP, which is both four.5W or 5.5W, relying on which mannequin you are .

Comet Lake’s greatest and meanest i7, the i7-10710U, sports activities 6 cores and 12 threads at a barely increased increase clock price than Ice Lake’s 4C/8T i7-1068G7. Nevertheless, the Comet Lake components are nonetheless utilizing the older UHD graphics chipset—they do not get entry to Ice Lake’s shiny new Iris+, which affords as much as triple the onboard graphics efficiency. This sharply limits the enchantment of the Comet Lake i7 CPUs in any OEM design that does not embrace a separate Nvidia or Radeon GPU—which might in flip bump the real-world energy consumption and warmth era of such a system considerably.

Comet Lake’s Y-series makes the same trade-off. Though Comet Lake’s Y-series does supply considerably decrease energy consumption than Ice Lake’s, it makes loads of sacrifices to get there. Its all-core turbo frequencies are usually down about 400 MHz from Ice Lake’s, the RAM drops from LPDDR4x-3733 to LPDDR3-2133, and (after all) no Iris+ graphics. We anticipate this can all add as much as Ice Lake’s Y-series performing significantly better than Comet Lake’s, at a really apparent, seat-of-the-pants degree in in any other case equally configured programs.

Lastly, Comet Lake doesn’t assist Intel’s Deep Studying Increase, a restricted prolonged instruction set that accelerates AI workloads based mostly on vector neural networks. This prolonged instruction set was initially obtainable in Cascade Lake collection Xeon Scalable processors earlier than shifting all the way down to the laptop computer with Ice Lake.

We’re keen to present Comet Lake a cross on this one. Private-assistant know-how within the moderate-to-near future would possibly start making the most of INT8 directions to vital impact, however for now, we do not assume most customers are more likely to miss it.

One focus the 2 product traces share is an enthusiasm for built-in Thunderbolt three and Wi-Fi 6 assist. That is most likely as a result of neither is constructed into rival AMD’s present lineup. The Wi-Fi 6 assist is punched up significantly arduous, with a whole slide dedicated to glowing claims from Netgear, TP-Hyperlink, and Comcast.

It is most likely a mistake to get too enthusiastic about that Wi-Fi 6 assist; unbiased assessments of the present crop of Wi-Fi 6 routers don’t assist the wild claims of 300% enhancements in throughput and latency made on this slide. Extra importantly, the true promise of Wi-Fi 6 was by no means single-device throughput within the first place—the true promise of Wi-Fi 6 lies in whole-network effectivity will increase. These will increase include OFDMA, which is described by Netgear itself as the largest profit to Wi-Fi 6. Additionally in line with Netgear, the advantages do not kick in till you have obtained a minimum of 4 Wi-Fi 6 purchasers working concurrently.

Conclusions

In a world that went straight from Whiskey Lake to Comet Lake, this lineup would look fairly good. However now we have hassle seeing an actual worth for Comet Lake in a market the place Ice Lake was simply launched. The low energy consumption of Comet Lake’s Y-series is fascinating, however the 6C/12T i7-0710U is the one actually tempting a part of its U-series line—and in each circumstances, we anticipate that the majority customers could be higher served with Ice Lake’s a lot higher-performance graphics and RAM.

This is not the primary time Intel has dropped a complicated mixture of pocket book CPUs in the marketplace near-simultaneously. Some new eighth-generation Espresso Lake merchandise, for example, launched after the whole run of ninth-generation Espresso Lake and Whiskey Lake components had completed. It is tempting to invest that Intel wanted this late Comet Lake 14nm refresh because of manufacturing limits on Ice Lake, however it’s simply as possible that that is merely enterprise as normal within the Intel world.

Assuming pricing is analogous, we see the Ice Lake product line as clearly superior to Comet Lake for many customers. The confusion between the 2 traces might additionally characterize a discipline Intel has left ripe for its rival AMD to brush. Maybe AMD will even end the hat trick it started with Ryzen 3000 on the desktop and Epyc Rome within the server room.

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