Technology

Intel Officially Introduces Ice Lake, Another 10nm Chip

Intel has revealed a successor to the eighth-generation Intel Core processor family, Ice Lake, that will be made using the 10nm+ process. It’s an interesting development, as next week the chip maker is planning to release its eighth-generation Core processors.

Intel Ice Lake
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Intel Ice Lake comes as a surprise

AnandTech reports that the announcement related to Intel Ice Lake comes as a surprise because the chip maker did not reveal anything about Cannon Lake, the first chips that will be built on the 10nm nanometer architecture. Further, Ice Lake is being projected as the successor of the soon-to-be-announced 14-nanometer Coffee Lake chips, which raises a question about the upcoming processor lineup and how Cannon Lake fits in.

The Intel Ice Lake “processor family is a successor to the 8th generation Intel(R) CoreTM processor family. These processors utilize Intel’s industry-leading 10 nm+ process technology,” says Intel’s website.

There are possibilities that the technology deployed to manufacture Ice Lake will slightly lose ground against the 14nm++ process in terms of transistor performance. However, Intel will surely find a way to improve the performance and features of Ice Lake against its predecessors, notes The Motley Fool.

As Intel talks about its Ice Lake chips, it seems to be ahead of its roadmap. For now, the company will launch Coffee Lake, followed by Cannon Lake, another eighth-generation Core family processor, and the first 10nm chip. Intel Ice Lake, on the other hand, is a tweaked version, as indicated by “+”, the sign used by Intel to indicate that it has made some extra development in the processor.

Intel might even launch Ice Lake as the first ninth-gneration Core family chip, as it has abandoned the tick-tock model to combine processor redesigns by making small improvements to the process itself.

Splitting desktop and laptop chips

Over the past few years, the chip maker has launched several Core generations, such as Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, Broadwell, Haswell, Skylake and Kaby Lake (launched this year). The Kaby Lake chip was built on a 14nm lithography process, specifically, the second-generation ’14 PLUS’ (or 14+) version of Intel’s 14nm process.

It seems that the chip maker has decided to split its desktop and laptop chip families. The desktop chips will apparently use 14nm variants like Kaby Lake and the soon-to-be-launched Coffee Lake. Laptops, on the other hand, will not only have the 14nm++ Coffee Lake parts but also 10nm Cannon Lake parts, notes Ars Technica.

According to Ian Cutress of AnandTech, the split will be done on the basis of core size and power, where the smaller 15W parts will deploy Cannon Lake chips because small chips will help generate higher yields from the new 10nm process. Larger processors from 35W and up will stick with 14nm++ and Coffee Lake.

All the diversion and convergence happening in the laptop and desktop markets might be a little confusing and keep everyone guessing about what Intel is up to. However, from Intel’s point of view, it might be solely because of its advancement in manufacturing technologies and its ability to move to newer lithography nodes.