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ASUS Z690 Motherboard Lineup Hits Regulators, Mix of DDR5 and DDR4 Variants

A list of upcoming ASUS motherboards based on the Intel Z690 chipset hit the radar on the Euasian Economic Commission (EEC) website, and it's telling. Intel's upcoming "Alder Lake-S" 12th Gen Core desktop processors support both DDR5 and DDR4 memory, as they form a point of transition between the two memory standards. The company's 6th Gen Core "Skylake" technically supported DDR3, helping people move between it and the then new DDR4, but motherboard vendors mostly avoided DDR3 slots. This time, the stakes are different, as component prices are on the boil, and the company would want to avoid placing the additional burden of new memory on people with DDR4 memory kits. This reflects on the ASUS motherboard lineup.

The lineup consists of the usual, predictable list of ROG Maximus, ROG Strix, TUF Gaming, Prime, and ProArt series SKUs, but what's noteworthy is that many of these come with the extension "D4," denoting DDR4 memory slots. For example, something like the Prime Z690-A comes in two variants, the standard one with DDR5 slots, and the "D4" variant with DDR4. It's interesting to note here, that the top-of-the-line ROG Maximus XIV series lacks any D4 variant, which means they'll remain DDR5-exclusive. We can't tell just from the names whether any of these models features both DDR5 and DDR4 slots; but one can definitely expect other brands such as ASRock to come up with such crazy contraptions.

ASUS Rolls Out BIOS Updates for Windows 11 Support on Kaby Lake, Skylake

ASUS has begun rolling out BIOS updates that add motherboard support for Windows 11 even for processor families that Microsoft said would be left out of their latest Windows OS. Ever since the introduction of Windows 11, the message around specific hardware requirements has been difficult to pinpoint, as the company struggles to send a clear message on exactly which users should be looking to update their hardware - and which should not. ASUS' new BIOS updates will certainly add to the stirring pot, as they are being touted to enable Windows 11 support for Intel CPU families that Microsoft doesn't officially (yet) support for the OS release: Skylake (6th Gen) and Kaby Lake (7th Gen). According to Microsoft, only 8th Gen (Coffee Lake) and later Intel CPUs are supported by Windows 11.

The new BIOS updates typically activate TPM on the users' machine, should it be off at the BIOS level. ASUS has already released beta BIOS versions that introduce support for Windows 11 on Z270, H270 and B250 motherboards, and launched a hub page with compatibility status for a number of its motherboard releases. According to the company in the respective motherboard support pages, "The following motherboards are compatible with Windows 11 under current testing. The upgrability [sic] is subject to the support from operation system or 3rd party drivers availability." Which of course means that even if ASUS has gotten preview versions of Windows 11 to run on systems with this hardware, there's no way to know if the final, retail Windows 11 version will actually offer support for these CPUs. Of course, driver compatibility is also in question, since nothing guarantees Windows 11 to competently manage your hardware on the basis of Windows 10-bound driver packages.

Intel Golden Cove P-Core Offers 19% IPC Gain Over Cypress Cove (Rocket Lake)

The 8 "Golden Cove" performance cores (P-cores) present on 12th Gen "Alder Lake-S" desktop processors offer an IPC gain of 19% over the "Cypress Cove" cores powering current 11th Gen "Rocket Lake-S" processors, claims Intel. This would put them at roughly 35% higher IPC than the "Skylake" cores that powered Intel client desktop processors until as recently as 2020, with the 10th Gen "Comet Lake." This 19% number, however, is presented as a geomean of performance improvement at iso-frequency, across a wide selection of tests that include SPEC CPU 2017, SYSmark 25, Crossmark, PCMark 10, WebXPRT3, and Geekbench 5.4.1.

The high IPC of the P-cores, coupled with the high rumored frequencies for the enthusiast i9-12900K part running well into 5.30 GHz or beyond, begins to explain how 8 of these "Golden Cove" cores, coupled with 8 fairly fast "Gracemont" cores, closes in on the 16-core AMD Ryzen 9 5950X at Cinebench R20.

Intel's Secret Sauce at Catching Up with AMD Core Count is the Gracemont E-core and its Mind-boggling Perf/Watt

When early benchmarks of the Core i9-12900K "Alder Lake-S" processor showing performance comparable to AMD's top 16-core Ryzen 9 5950X surfaced, we knew something was up. 8 Intel P-cores and 8 E-cores, are able to match 16 "Zen 3" cores that are all performance cores. Apparently Intel is able to turn its P-core deficit around by taking a wacky approach. First, the 8 "Golden Cove" P-cores themselves offer significantly higher IPC than "Zen 3." Second, the 8 "Gracemont" E-cores aren't as "slow" as conventional wisdom would suggest.

Intel in its Architecture Day presentation put out some astounding numbers that help support how 8 big + 8 little cores are able to perform in the league of 16 AMD big cores. Apparently, on "Alder Lake-S," the 8 "Gracemont" E-cores enjoy a lavish power budget, and are able to strike an incredible performance/Watt sweet-spot. Intel claims that the "Gracemont" E-core offers 40% higher performance at ISO power than a "Skylake" core (Intel's workhorse P-core for desktops until as recently as 2020); which means it consumes 40% less power at comparable performance.

AMD Ryzen 7000 Series "Raphael" Zen 4 Processor IHS Design Gets Leaked

AMD is preparing to switch things up a bit with its upcoming AM5 platform. The new platform is said to bring significant changes to the design of the socket and the CPU package, where we will see some new design choices and decisions. For starters, all of the processors made for the AM5 platform will come in a land grid array (LGA) configuration, very similar to that of Intel. Thanks to the rendering of ExecutableFix, we got to see exactly how will the new LGA design look like. And today, we get to see more details of the AMD's upcoming Raphael processor's integrated heat spreader (IHS) design.

The IHS serves the purpose of spreading the heat away from the die and dissipating it efficiently. However, IHS designs can sometimes be very interesting. According to this rendering from ExecutableFix, AMD's upcoming Raphael design, based on Zen 4 core, will feature a unique IHS design, which can be seen below.

Intel "Rocket Lake-S" Die Annotated

Intel is betting big on an 8-core processor to revive its gaming performance leadership, and that chip is the 11th Generation Core "Rocket Lake-S," coming this March. In its 2021 International CES online event, Intel disclosed more details about "Rocket Lake-S," including the first true-color die-shot. PC enthusiast @Locuza_ on Twitter annotated the die for your viewing pressure. For starters, nearly half the die-area of the "Rocket Lake-S" is taken up by the uncore and iGPU, with the rest going to the eight "Cypress Cove" CPU cores.

The "Cypress Cove" CPU core is reportedly a back-port of "Willow Cove" to the 14 nm silicon fabrication node, although there are some changes, beginning with its cache hierarchy. A "Cypress Cove" core is configured with the same L1I and L1D cache sizes as "Willow Cove," but differ with L2 and L3 cache sizes. Each "Cypress Cove" core is endowed with 512 KB of dedicated L2 cache (which is a 100% increase from the 256 KB on "Skylake" cores); but this pales in comparison to the 1.25 MB L2 caches of "Willow Cove" cores on the "Tiger Lake-U" silicon. Also, the L3 cache for the 8-core "Rocket Lake-S" die is 16 MB, spread across eight 2 MB slices; while the 4-core "Tiger Lake-U" features 12 MB of L3, spread across four 3 MB slices. Each core can address the whole L3 cache, across all slices.

Intel Confirms Rocket Lake-S Features Cypress Cove with Double-Digit IPC Increase

Today, Intel has decided to surprise us and give an update to its upcoming CPU lineup for desktop. With the 11th generation, Core CPUs codenamed Rocket Lake-S, Intel is preparing to launch the new lineup in the first quarter of 2021. This means that we are just a few months away from this launch. When it comes to the architecture of these new processors, they are going to be based on a special Cypress Cove design. Gone are the days of Skylake-based designs that were present from the 6th to 10th generation processors. The Cypress Cove, as Intel calls it, is an Ice Lake adaptation. Contrary to the previous rumors, it is not an adaptation of Tiger Lake Willow Cove, but rather Ice Lake Sunny Cove.

The CPU instruction per cycle (IPC) is said to grow in double-digits, meaning that the desktop users are finally going to see an improvement that is not only frequency-based. While we do not know the numbers yet, we can expect them to be better than the current 10th gen parts. For the first time on the Intel platform for desktops, we will see the adoption of PCIe 4.0 chipset, which will allow for much faster SSD speeds and support the latest GPUs, specifically, there will be 20 PCIe 4.0 lanes coming from the CPU only. The CPU will be paired with 12th generation Xe graphics, like the one found in Tiger Lake CPUs. Other technologies such as Deep Learning Boost and VNNI, Quick Sync Video, and better overclocking tuning will be present as well. Interesting thing to note here is that the 10C/20T Core i9-10900K has a PL1 headroom of 125 W, and 250 W in PL2. However, the 8C/16T Rocket Lake-S CPU also features 125 W headroom in PL1, and 250 W in PL2. This indicates that the new Cypress Cove design runs hotter than the previous generation.

Bad Intel Quality Assurance Responsible for Apple-Intel Split?

Apple's decision to switch from Intel processors for its Mac computers to its own, based on the Arm architecture, has shaken up the tech world, even though rumors of the transition have been doing rounds for months. Intel's first official response, coupled with facts such as Intel's CPU technology execution being thrown completely off gear due to foundry problems; pointed toward the likelihood of Intel not being able to keep up with Apple's growing performance/Watt demands. It turns out now, that Intel's reasons are a lot more basic, and date back to 2016.

According to a sensational PC Gamer report citing former Intel principal engineer François Piednoël, Apple's dissatisfaction with Intel dates back to some of its first 14 nm chips, based on the "Skylake" microarchitecture. "The quality assurance of Skylake was more than a problem," says Piednoël. It was abnormally bad. We were getting way too much citing for little things inside Skylake. Basically our buddies at Apple became the number one filer of problems in the architecture. And that went really, really bad. When your customer starts finding almost as much bugs as you found yourself, you're not leading into the right place," he adds.

Intel "Willow Cove" Backported to 14nm is "Cypress Cove"?

Intel's 11th generation Core "Rocket Lake-S" desktop processor is fascinating as it introduces Intel's first CPU core IPC uptick in about half a decade. Until now, it was rumored that "Rocket Lake-S" features a back-port of Intel's "Willow Cove" CPU cores to the 14 nm silicon fabrication process. It turns out that Intel doesn't want to call these cores "Willow Cove," which make their debut with the 10 nm+ "Tiger Lake" mobile processors later this Summer. Enter "Cypress Cove." A Moore's Law is Dead video presentation sheds light on this mysterious new codename.

Apparently, "Cypress Cove" is the codename Intel is using to refer to the CPU cores Intel is building with its latest CPU core IP on older 14 nm process. Owing to the process, the IPC of these cores may be different from the "Willow Cove" cores on "Tiger Lake," and to avoid confusion, Intel possibly choosing to give it a different internal codename. In other words, Moore's Law is Dead believes that "Cypress Cove" may not offer the alleged 25% IPC gains over "Skylake" that you could expect instead from "Willow Cove" cores in "Tiger Lake."

Intel 10th Generation Comet Lake Desktop Processors and 400-Series Chipsets Announced, Here's what's New

Intel today launched its 10th generation Core desktop processor family and its companion Intel 400-series chipsets. Based on the 14 nm++ silicon fabrication process and built in the new LGA1200 package, the processors are based on the "Comet Lake" microarchitecture. The core design of "Comet Lake" and its IPC are identical to those of "Skylake," however Intel brought significant enhancements to the processor's clock-speed boosting algorithm, increased core- or thread counts across the board, and introduced new features that could interest enthusiasts and overclockers. The uncore component remains largely unchanged from the previous-generation, with support for DDR4 memory and PCI-Express gen 3.0. Use of these processors requires a new socket LGA1200 motherboard, they won't work on older LGA1151 motherboards. You can install any LGA115x-compatible cooler on LGA1200, provided it meets the thermal requirements of the processor you're using.

At the heart of the 10th generation Core processor family is a new 10-core monolithic processor die, which retains the same basic structure as the previous-generation 8-core "Coffee Lake Refresh" die, and 4-core "Skylake." The cores are arranged in two rows, sandwiched by the processor's uncore and iGPU blocks. A ring-bus interconnect binds the various components. The cache hierarchy is unchanged from previous generations as well, with 32 KB each of L1I and L1D caches; 256 KB of dedicated L2 cache per core, and 20 MB of shared L3 cache. The iGPU is the same Gen 9.5 based UHD 630 graphics. As we mentioned earlier, much of Intel's innovation for the 10th generation is with the processor's microcode (boosting algorithms).
Intel Core i9-10900K 10th Gen Intel Core Desktop Comet Lake Lineup 10th Gen Intel Core Desktop Comet Lake Lineup 10th Gen Intel Core Desktop Comet Lake Lineup

x86 Lacks Innovation, Arm is Catching up. Enough to Replace the Giant?

Intel's x86 processor architecture has been the dominant CPU instruction set for many decades, since IBM decided to put the Intel 8086 microprocessor into its first Personal Computer. Later, in 2006, Apple decided to replace their PowerPC based processors in Macintosh computers with Intel chips, too. This was the time when x86 became the only option for the masses to use and develop all their software on. While mobile phones and embedded devices are mostly Arm today, it is clear that x86 is still the dominant ISA (Instruction Set Architecture) for desktop computers today, with both Intel and AMD producing processors for it. Those processors are going inside millions of PCs that are used every day. Today I would like to share my thoughts on the demise of the x86 platform and how it might vanish in favor of the RISC-based Arm architecture.

Both AMD and Intel as producer, and millions of companies as consumer, have invested heavily in the x86 architecture, so why would x86 ever go extinct if "it just works"? The answer is that it doesn't just work.

Intel Core i9-10900K and i7-10700K Allegedly Pictured

Alleged pictures of the upcoming Intel Core i9-10900K and i7-10700K processors made it to Chinese social media. The blurry-cam pictures of the chips' topside don't reveal much other than the "Intel Confidential" markings, denoting that these chips are engineering samples. The reverse side confirm that these are chips are built in the new LGA1200 package. You can also spot electrical ancillaries laid out unlike any previous-gen Intel package, and different socket key notches.

In the run up to the rumored April 2020 launch we could learn more about these chips. Based on the 14 nm "Comet Lake" silicon, Intel's 10th generation Core desktop processors in the LGA1200 package increase logical processor counts across the board, and increase clock speeds. The i9-10900K is a 10-core/20-thread processor with 20 MB of shared L3 cache, and up to 5.10 GHz boost frequency, with 4.80 GHz all-core boost. The i7-10700K, on the other hand, is an 8-core/16-thread chip with 16 MB L3 cache, and clock speeds of 5.00 GHz boost and 4.50 GHz all-core Turbo. The Core i5 series also gets a shot in the arm, being configured as 6-core/12-thread, with 12 MB of L3 cache. The per-core performance (IPC) is expected to be the same as 6th generation "Skylake."

Intel 400-series Chipset Motherboards to Lack PCIe Gen 4.0, Launch Pushed to Q2

Intel's upcoming 400-series desktop chipset will lack support for PCI-Express gen 4.0. The motherboards will stick to gen 3.0 for both the main x16 PEG slots wired to the LGA1200 socket, and general purpose PCIe lanes from the PCH, according to a Tom's Hardware report. It was earlier expected that 400-series chipset motherboards will come with preparation for PCIe gen 4.0, so even if the upcoming 10th gen "Comet Lake" desktop processors lacked gen 4.0 root-complexes, the boards would be fully ready for the new bus standard in 11th gen "Rocket Lake" desktop processors.

10th gen "Comet Lake" desktop processors are built on 14 nm process, and implement Intel's current-gen CPU core design Intel has been implementing since 6th gen "Skylake." It's only with 11th gen "Rocket Lake" that the mainstream desktop platform could see a new CPU core design, with the company reportedly back-porting "Willow Cove" CPU cores to the 14 nm process. "Rocket Lake" is also expected to feature a small Gen12 iGPU with 32 execution units, and a new-gen uncore component that implements PCIe gen 4.0. PCIe gen 4.0 doubles bandwidth over gen 3.0, and while only a handful GPUs support it, the standard is made popular by a new generation of M.2 NVMe SSDs that are able to utilize the added bandwidth to push sequential transfer rates beyond M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 limitations.

Intel Reportedly Looking Into Further Reduction in CPU Pricing for 2020

Intel's policy on CPU pricing has been a strong, definite one for years: no price reductions. Faced with less than admirable competition from a struggling AMD back in its Phenom and especially Bulldozer days, Intel enforced a heavy hand on the market and on CPU pricing. However, a much revitalized AMD and difficulties in the transition to the 10 nm process have left Intel with no other recourse than to cut pricing on its CPUs in order to remain competitive. No uptake of new I/O technologies such as PCIe 4.0 has also taken its toll on Intel's position in the server and HEDT market, which has led to recent price-cuts and tightening of Intel's Xeon line of CPUs - as well as price-cuts in the order of 50% in their Cascade Lake-X processors compared to the previous generation.

DigiTimes, citing industry PC makers, says that Intel is gearing up to keep fighting in the only front it actually can, besides puny core count increases on their heavily-iterated Skylake architecture - pricing. This move comes in a bid to keep its market dominance, which Intel themselves have said - after Zen 2, that is - isn't a priority for the consumer market. You can rest assured that Intel is very, very likely already practicing hefty price reductions for tray-quantity purchases for partners. However, it seems that the company might bring some price cuts on to its upcoming Comet Lake CPUs. The company has always been loathe to reduce pricing on existing inventory, rather choosing to reduce the price on new launches (see the Cascade Lake-X example above), which, arguably, saves Intel's face on claims of only being able to compete on pricing - which lurks dangerously close to Intel being painted as the budget, price-cut alternative to AMD.

Intel CPU Based on New Architecture Leaks

Today Intel's CPU based on yet unannounced architecture got revealed in the SiSoft benchmark database. Featuring six cores and twelve threads running at 3 GHz, it appears like a regular 14 nm CPU that's already available, however, when digging through the details, many things are revealed. The newly submitted CPU has a different L2 cache configuration from previous CPU offerings, with this chip featuring 1.25 MB of L2 cache per core, it is unlike anything else Intel currently offers. Ice Lake mobile chips feature 512 KB, while the highest amount of L2 cache is currently present on i9-10980XE, which features 1 MB of L2.

It is unknown where this CPU fits in the whole 14/10 nm lineup, as we don't know if this is an iteration of 10 nm Tiger Lake or the rumored 14 nm Rocket Lake CPU. All we know is that this CPU features new architecture compared to Skylake iterations that are currently being used, judging by L2 cache bump, which usually happens on new architectures. The platform used for benchmarking this CPU was SuperMicro X12DAi-N SMC X12 dual-socket motherboard, which featured two of these new CPUs for a total of 12 cores and 24 threads.

Intel "Rocket Lake-S" Desktop Processor Comes in Core Counts Up to 8, Gen12 iGPU Included

Intel's 11th generation Core "Rocket Lake-S" desktop processor will come in core-counts only up to 8, even as its predecessor, "Comet Lake-S," goes up to 10. Platform descriptors for Intel's next four microarchitectures surfaced on the web, detailing maximum values of their "S" (mainsteam desktop), "H" (mainstream notebook), "U" (ultrabook), and "Y" (low power portable) flavors. Both "Comet Lake-S" and "Rocket Lake-S" are 14 nm chips. "Comet Lake-S" comes with core counts of up to 10, a TDP of up to 125 Watts, Gen 9LP iGPU with 48 execution units, and native support for up to 128 GB of DDR4-2667.

The "Rocket Lake-S" silicon is interesting. Rumored to be yet another derivative of "Skylake," it features up to 8 CPU cores, the same 125 W maximum TDP, but swanky Gen12 iGPU with 32 execution units. The memory controller is also upgraded, which supports DDR4-2933 natively. There is no "Ice Lake-H" or "Ice Lake-S" in sight (no mainstream notebook or mainstream desktop implementations), ditto "Tiger Lake." For the foreseeable future, Intel will only make quad-core designs of the two 10 nm microarchitectures. "Rocket Lake-S" is slated for 2021 when, hopefully, we'll see Intel escape the 14 nm black hole.

Intel Scraps 10nm for Desktop, Brazen it Out with 14nm Skylake Till 2022?

In a shocking piece of news, Intel has reportedly scrapped plans to launch its 10 nm "Ice Lake" microarchitecture on the client desktop platform. The company will confine its 10 nm microarchitectures, "Ice Lake" and "Tiger Lake" to only the mobile platform, while the desktop platform will see derivatives of "Skylake" hold Intel's fort under the year 2022! Intel gambles that with HyperThreading enabled across the board and increased clock-speeds, it can restore competitiveness with AMD's 7 nm "Zen 2" Ryzen processors with its "Comet Lake" silicon that offers core-counts of up to 10.

"Comet Lake" will be succeeded in 2021 by the 14 nm "Rocket Lake" silicon, which somehow combines a Gen12 iGPU with "Skylake" derived CPU cores, and possibly increased core-counts and clock speeds over "Comet Lake." It's only 2022 that Intel will ship out a truly new microarchitecture on the desktop platform, with "Meteor Lake." This chip will be built on Intel's swanky 7 nm EUV silicon fabrication node, and possibly integrate CPU cores more advanced than even "Willow Cove," possibly "Golden Cove."

Intel Marketing Tries to Link Stability to Turbo Boost

There is no correlation between CPU frequency boosting behavior and system stability. Intel today launched its "10th generation" Core X HEDT processors, with core-counts ranging between 10 to 18, priced between $590 and $978. Based on the 14 nm "Cascade Lake-X" silicon, these chips have the same exact IPC as "Skylake" circa 2015, but offer nearly double the number of cores to the Dollar compared to the 9th generation Core X series; and add a couple of useful instruction sets such as DLBoost, which accelerates DNN training/building; a few more AVX-512 instructions, and an updated Turbo Boost Max 3.0 algorithm. The chips offer clock-speed bumps over the previous generation.

Intel's main trade-call for these processors? Taking another stab at AMD for falling short on boost frequency in the hands of consumers. "The chip that hits frequency benchmarks as promised, our new #CoreX -series processor, provides a stable, high-performance platform for visual creators everywhere," reads the Intel tweet, as if to suggest that reaching the "promised" clock speed results in stability. AMD was confronted with alarming statistics of consumers whose 3rd generation Ryzen processors wouldn't reach their advertised boost frequencies. The company released an updated AGESA microcode that fixed this.

Intel 10th Generation Core "Comet Lake" Lineup Detailed

Intel's short-term reaction to AMD's 3rd generation Ryzen processor family is the 10th generation Core "Comet Lake." These processors are based on existing "Skylake" cores, but have core-counts increased at the top-end, and HyperThreading enabled across the entire lineup. The Core i3 series are now 4-core/8-thread; the Core i5 series a 6-core/12-thread, the Core i7 series are 8-core/16-thread, and the new Core i9 series are 10-core/20-thread. Besides core-counts, Intel has given its 14 nanometer node one last step of refinement to come up with the new 14 nm+++ nodelet. This enables Intel to significantly dial up clock speeds across the board. These processors come in the new LGA1159 package, and are not backwards-compatible with LGA1151 motherboards. These chips also appear to feature an on-package PCH, instead of chipset on the motherboard.

Leading the pack is the Core i9-10900KF, a 10-core/20-thread chip clocked at 4.60 GHz with 5.20 GHz Turbo Boost, 20 MB of shared L3 cache, native support for DDR4-3200, and a TDP of 105 W. Intel's new 10-core die appears to physically lack an iGPU, since none of the other Core i9 10-core models offer integrated graphics. For this reason, all three processor models have the "F" brand extension denoting lack of integrated graphics. The i9-10900KF is closely followed by the i9-10900F clocked at 4.40/5.20 GHz, the lack of an unlocked multiplier, and 95 W TDP rating. The most affordable 10-core part is the i9-10800F, clocked at 4.20 GHz with 5.00 GHz boost, and a TDP of just 65 W. Intel has set ambitious prices for these chips. The i9-10900KF is priced at $499, followed by the i9-10900F at $449, and the i9-10800F at $409.

AMD Ryzen 5 3600 Beats Intel Core i9-9900KF at PassMark - CPU Mark Single-Thread

In more evidence of AMD having finally achieved or exceeded IPC parity with Intel, a mid-range Ryzen 5 3600 processor beats Intel's current mainstream-desktop flagship processor, the Core i9-9900KF, at the PassMark - CPU Mark single-thread benchmark. The official performance chart for PassMark shows the Ryzen 5 3600 leading the pack, with 2,981 points, a score which is 1.77 percent higher than that of the Core i9-9900KF on the same chart. It also beats the Core i9-9900K by 2.86 percent. Interestingly, the chart does not mention whether the Ryzen 5 3600 is running at its stock frequency of 3.60 GHz with 4.20 GHz boost, or whether it's overclocked. The i9-9900KF boosts to 5.00 GHz. For a single-threaded benchmark, it's generally assumed that the maximum boost multiplier is engaged on both chips. The score can't be dismissed due to this uncertainty, either, because AMD achieving a 1-2 percent IPC uplift over "Skylake" (fine, "Coffee Lake,") isn't impossible given the leaps the company made in the past three years.

Intel 10th Generation Core Case-badges Revealed

Intel laid rest to speculation that post 9th generation, it could replace its Core brand with something else. The 10th generation Core processors, built around the 10 nm "Ice Lake" microachitecture, will feature the first noteworthy IPC increments since "Skylake" thanks to their new "Sunny Cove" CPU cores. These will also feature DLBoost, a fixed-function matrix-multiplication hardware that speeds up deep-neural net building and training by 5x, as well as certain AVX-512 instructions. The cores will be optimized to cope with 2.4 Gbps 802.11ax Wi-Fi and faster Ethernet standards. The first of these chips will target mobile computing platforms, and will be quad-core parts like the dies pictured below. To save notebook PCB real-estate, Intel will put the processor and PCH dies into a multi-chip module. It will be quite a wait for the desktop implementation, but at least you know what their case-badges look like.

Intel Switches Gears to 7nm Post 10nm, First Node Live in 2021

Intel's semiconductor manufacturing business has had a terrible past 5 years as it struggled to execute its 10 nanometer roadmap forcing the company's processor designers to re-hash the "Skylake" microarchitecture for 5 generations of Core processors, including the upcoming "Comet Lake." Its truly next-generation microarchitecture, codenamed "Ice Lake," which features a new CPU core design called "Sunny Cove," comes out toward the end of 2019, with desktop rollouts expected 2020. It turns out that the 10 nm process it's designed for, will have a rather short reign at Intel's fabs. Speaking at an investor's summit on Wednesday, Intel put out its silicon fabrication roadmap that sees an accelerated roll-out of Intel's own 7 nm process.

When it goes live and fit for mass production some time in 2021, Intel's 7 nm process will be a staggering 3 years behind TSMC, which fired up its 7 nm node in 2018. AMD is already mass-producing CPUs and GPUs on this node. Unlike TSMC, Intel will implement EUV (extreme ultraviolet) lithography straightaway. TSMC began 7 nm with DUV (deep ultraviolet) in 2018, and its EUV node went live in March. Samsung's 7 nm EUV node went up last October. Intel's roadmap doesn't show a leap from its current 10 nm node to 7 nm EUV, though. Intel will refine the 10 nm node to squeeze out energy-efficiency, with a refreshed 10 nm+ node that goes live some time in 2020.

Intel 10nm Ice Lake to Quantitatively Debut Within 2019

Intel put out interesting details about its upcoming 10 nanometer "Ice Lake" CPU microarchitecture rollout in its recent quarterly financial results call. The company has started qualification of its 10 nm "Ice Lake" processors. This involves sending engineering samples to OEMs, system integrators and other relevant industry partners, and getting the chips approved for their future product designs. The first implementation of "Ice Lake" will not be a desktop processor, but rather a low-power mobile SoC designed for ultraportables, codenamed "Ice Lake-U." This SoC packs a 4-core/8-thread CPU based on the "Sunny Cove" core design, and Gen11 GT2 integrated graphics with 64 execution units and nearly 1 TFLOP/s compute power. This SoC will also support WiFi 6 and LPDDR4X memory.

Intel CEO Bob Swan also remarked that the company has doubled its 10 nm yield expectations. "On the [10 nm] process technology front, our teams executed well in Q1 and our velocity is increasing," he said, adding "We remain on track to have volume client systems on shelves for the holiday selling season. And over the past four months, the organization drove a nearly 2X improvement in the rate at which 10nm products move through our factories." Intel is prioritizing enterprise over desktop, as "Ice Lake-U" will be followed by "Ice Lake-SP" Xeon rollout in 2020. There was no mention of desktop implementations such as "Ice Lake-S." Intel is rumored to be preparing a stopgap microarchitecture for the desktop platform to compete with AMD "Matisse" Zen 2 AM4 processors, codenamed "Comet Lake." This is essentially a Skylake 10-core die fabbed on existing 14 nm++ node. AMD in its CES keynote announced an achievement of per-core performance parity with Intel, so it could be interesting to see how Intel hopes 10 "Skylake" cores match up to 12-16 "Zen 2" cores.

Intel Unleashes 56-core Xeon "Cascade Lake" Processor to Preempt 64-core EPYC

Intel late Tuesday made a boat-load of enterprise-relevant product announcements, including the all important update to its Xeon Scalable enterprise processor product-stack, with the addition of the new 56-core Xeon Scalable "Cascade Lake" processor. This chip is believed to be Intel's first response to the upcoming AMD 7 nm EPYC "Rome" processor with 64 cores and a monolithic memory interface. The 56-core "Cascade Lake" is a multi-chip module (MCM) of two 28-core dies, each with a 6-channel DDR4 memory interface, totaling 12-channel for the package. Each of the two 28-core dies are built on the existing 14 nm++ silicon fabrication process, and the IPC of each of the 56 cores are largely unchanged since "Skylake." Intel however, has added several HPC and AI-relevant instruction-sets.

To begin with, Intel introduced DL Boost, which could be a fixed-function hardware matrix multiplier that accelerates building and training of AI deep-learning neural networks. Next up, are hardware mitigation against several speculative execution CPU security vulnerabilities that haunted the computing world since early-2018, including certain variants of "Spectre" and "Meltdown." A hardware fix presents lesser performance impact compared to a software fix in the form of a firmware patch. Intel has added support for Optane Persistent Memory, which is the company's grand vision for what succeeds volatile primary memory such as DRAM. Currently slower than DRAM but faster than SSDs, Optane Persistent Memory is non-volatile, and its contents can be made to survive power-outages. This allows sysadmins to power-down entire servers to scale down with workloads, without worrying about long wait times to restore uptime when waking up those servers. Among the CPU instruction-sets added include AVX-512 and AES-NI.

Intel Posts Open-Source AV1 Encoder for Online Streaming Servers

Intel posted an open-source video encoder for the new AV1 video format, targeted at online streaming servers that process large amounts of online videos for streaming. The new SVT-AV1 (Scalable Video Technology-AV1), is an BSD-2-Clause-Patent licensed video encoder that supports Linux, Windows, and MacOS operating systems, optimized for Intel Xeon Scalable processors based on the "Skylake" microarchitecture and older, as it probably leverages the AVX-512 instruction-set. It has some pretty steep hardware requirements from a client viewpoint, but nothing big video stream service providers can't afford: 48 GB of minimum RAM for a 10 bpc 4K stream, or 16 GB for a Full-HD stream. The encoder can scale up to 112 logical processors. Intel earlier offered a similar encoder for the proprietary H.265/HEVC format, with SVT-HEVC. You can inspect and grab SVT-AV1 from Intel's Git.
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