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Intel "Tiger Lake" Supports PCIe Gen 4 and Features Xe Graphics, Phantom Canyon NUC Detailed

Intel is working on its next generation gaming-grade NUC, codenamed "Phantom Canyon." When it comes out some time in 2020-21, it will feature Intel's 10 nm+ "Tiger Lake" SoC. Intel detailed this and more in a leaked presentation to industry partners. It describes the launch of of the company's "Ghost Canyon" NUC in Fall 2019 to succeed the current "Hades Canyon" gaming NUC. This box features a Core i9-9980HK processor and discrete graphics options. It will be succeeded in 2020-21 (late 2020 or sometime 2021), by the "Phantom Canyon" NUC that's in development.

The "Phantom Canyon" NUC is powered by a 28 W 10 nm+ "Tiger Lake-U" SoC that features PCI-Express gen 4. The package also implements Intel's "Gen 12" graphics processor that's derived from the Xe architecture it's currently working on, according to Chinese publication PTTWeb. The NUC will also feature discrete graphics options in the price-range of the current GTX 1660 Ti and RTX 2060 ($299 to $349). In related news, we see subtle hints that Intel will give its chipset bus a major update in future generations of its desktop and mobile platforms. Apparently, future platforms could feature DMI spread over 8 lanes as opposed to 4 on current platforms, besides the update to PCIe gen 4. This quadrupling in bandwidth compared to DMI 3.0 (PCIe 3.0 x4) is necessitated by the growth in bandwidth-hungry devices such as NVMe SSDs, external Thunderbolt 3 graphics cards, USB 3.2 flash drives, etc.

Intel "Tiger Lake" Architecture Combines Willow Cove CPU Cores and Xe iGPU

Even as Intel banks on 10 nm "Ice Lake" to pull it out of the 14 nm dark ages, the company is designing a fascinating new monolithic processor SoC die that succeeds it. Codenamed "Tiger Lake," and slated to debut in 2020, this die packs "Willow Cove" CPU cores and an iGPU based on Intel's Xe architecture, not Gen11. "Willow Cove" CPU cores are more advanced than the "Sunny Cove" cores "Ice Lake" packs, featuring a redesigned on-die cache, additional security features, and transistor optimization yielded from the newer 10 nm+ silicon fabrication process.

Intel is already boasting of 1 TFLOP/s compute power of the Gen11 iGPU on "Ice Lake," so it's logical to predict that the Xe based iGPU will be significantly faster. It will also support the latest display standards. The "next-gen I/O" referenced by Intel could be faster NVMe, Thunderbolt, and USB standards that leverage the bandwidth doubling brought about by PCI-Express gen 4.0. Here's the catch: much like "Ice Lake," the new "Tiger Lake" chip will get a mobile debut as Tiger Lake-Y or Tiger Lake-U, and desktop processors could follow later, possibly even 2021, depending on how much pressure it faces from AMD.

Intel "Sapphire Rapids" Micro-architecture Succeeds "Tiger Lake"

Intel revealed the very first hint at its post-"Ice Lake"/"Tiger Lake" processor lineup, which will likely be built on the company's 7 nanometer silicon fab process. Its 12th generation Core processor will be built on the new "Sapphire Rapids" silicon, which will be a major micro-architecture change, and could put 8-core into more hands. The processor, along with its companion chipset, will make up the "Tinsley" platform, which is expected to hit the market in 2020.

Following its 8th generation Core "Coffee Lake" lineup, Intel could built 2-3 micro-architectures on its new 10 nm process, namely "Cannon Lake," "Ice Lake," and "Tiger Lake," which could be released over the next three years. "Sapphire Rapids" could be launched on the process that succeeds 10 nm, likely 7 nm, with a launch timeline likely around 2020.

Intel "Coffee Lake" Architecture by Q2-2018, 7 nm Process By 2022?

Intel's silicon fabrication has evidently hit a huge roadblock. It turns out that not just "Kaby Lake," but its two successors "Cannon Lake" and "Coffee Lake" could also be built on the 14 nm node, at best with a few process-level improvements. "Coffee Lake" is the company's 9th generation Core architecture, which is two steps ahead of even the "Kaby Lake" architecture, which is due later this year. "Kaby Lake" makes its way to the 45W mobile (H-segment) and 15W mobile (U-segment), in Q4-2016 and Q3-2016, respectively. The 15W U-segment will be augmented by "Cannon Lake" (8th generation Core) in Q4-2017. By mid-2018, Intel plans to launch "Coffee Lake" across both H- and U-segments.

According to a "Hot Hardware" report, based on a job listing for a systems engineer at the company, Intel could be staring at the scary prospect of holding out on 14 nm for the next three years, only to be relieved by the stopgap 10 nm node, which makes its debut with the 10th generation Core "Tiger Lake" architecture, due for 2019. "Tiger Lake," its succeeding "Ice Lake," and one other architecture could be launched on 10 nm, before finally deploying 7 nm around 2022.

First 10 nm Intel Processor Out in 2017

With Intel's "tick-tock" product development cycle slowing down to a 3-launch cadence per silicon fab process, the company is preparing to launch no less than three micro-architectures on its next 10 nanometer silicon fab process. The first 10 nm CPU by Intel will launch in 2017.

In 2016, Intel will launch its 7th generation Core "Kaby Lake" processor, its third chip on the 14 nm process (after "Broadwell" and "Skylake"). The first 10 nm micro-architecture will be codenamed "Cannonlake," and will launch some time in 2017. Intel will build chips on the 10 nm for two more generations after "Cannonlake." The company's 2018 micro-architecture, built on the 10 nm will be codenamed "Icelake," and its 2019 release will be codenamed "Tigerlake." It's only 2020 that the company will pull out its next silicon fab process, 5 nm.
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