Intel gave its keynote at CES last night, outlining a comprehensive vision for its product launches throughout 2019. From upcoming 10nm Xeon parts based on Ice Lake to its plans for new networking SoCs and a Nervana launch, the company has a busy schedule for itself.
Ice Lake integrated mobile solutions will arrive in 2019, with an unprecedented level of overall integration. Intel’s Gen 11 graphics will be built into these cores and the company is predicting significant performance uplifts compared with its previous, 2015 era integrated GPUs. Other features include Wi-Fi 6 support (802.11ax) and fully integrated Thunderbolt 3 controller support, and Intel’s new instructions for AI processing, dubbed DLBoost. These chips will ship at the end of 2019 for volume availability by the holiday season.
Ice Lake is part of an overall push to launch an Ultrabook successor initiative dubbed Project Athena. According to Intel, Project Athena is an industry-wide innovation program described with phrasing like “Mobile PC innovation rooted in human understanding.” Intel didn’t say much about the initiative ultimately, however, beyond describing a consumer desire for no-holds-barred mobile experiences — an accurate but ultimately trite point when you consider that human beings will always want maximum performance in minimal form factors, yet physics will forever stubbornly demand a heat and performance penalty that precludes stuffing desktop-level performance into mobile form factors.
Intel currently plans to launch Ice Lake for consumer and server products, as well as Lakefield and Snow Ridge (both discussed below).
Lakefield: Atom and Sunny Cove in a Single Chip
At Intel Architecture Day we told you about a new hybrid SoC from Intel that combined Atom and Sunny Cove on a single chip, connected together via Intel’s Foveros technology. Intel has since unveiled new information on the core, codenamed Lakefield.
Lakefield combines a single 10nm Sunny Cove “big core” with four Atom CPU cores. Lakefield’s entire focus is on enabling computing in TDPs and power envelopes where conventional Intel CPUs might not fit.
The entire chip fits within a 12mm package and is intended for form factors with 11-inch screens and smaller.
Intel’s Nervana (NNPI) is expected to deliver industry-leading inference performance per watt on real production workloads. It’s intended to improve the overall efficiency of edge computing and boost image recognition and classification performance.
Intel is targeting its AI compute capability rollouts at multiple market segments simultaneously, which is why you hear the company discuss these capabilities in so many different contexts. AI isn’t just a major focus for edge computing or mobile AI applications — it’s important to Intel in markets that range from data centers to ultra-mobile IoT devices and similar low-power products.
Intel will also launch a new networking SoC, codenamed Snow Ridge, intended specifically for 5G infrastructure. The company is moving Intel architecture-based products into network products with the goal of increasing edge compute resources and reducing workload latency. Base stations are a new market for Intel — the company hasn’t previously competed in this space.
Overall, these plans echo what we discussed in our year-end roundup dealing with the company. Intel is putting data centers, AI, and 5G connectivity front and center and tying those initiatives back to its overall PC business rather than focusing solely on PCs as its technology engine. 10nm has been badly delayed, but by this time next year, we should have parts solidly in-market with the power and performance improvement that entails.