Intel’s 10nm Hybrid Lakefield SoC Coming | 12mm Die

By Subhajit Ghosh

Intel seems to have finally made some progress in transitioning from its seriously dated 14nm process to the 10nm node after multiple years. Intel announced in CES 2019 press conference, ranging from updates on its 10nm CPUs to new initiatives by its automotive division to the data centre and AI advancements. Speaking at the keynote, Senior VP of the Client Computing Group, Greg Bryant, and EVP of the Data Centre Group, Navin Shenoy, promised that Intel is evolving from a PC-centric company to a data-centric company. The company is targeting segments that it thinks will see strong growth over the next few years in addition to its PC processor business. According to Shenoy, “We are making excellent progress in pursuing a massive $300 billion (roughly Rs. 21 lakh crores) data-driven market opportunity spanning the most important workloads – such as AI, 5G and autonomous driving. And, on a scale unmatched by others.”

Intel Lakefield Announcement

In a YouTube video, the chip giant demoed the Lakefield mobile processors that will leverage the 10nm fabricating process, and will also be Intel’s first proper SoC in a long time. Lakefield is expected to be power efficient while delivering PC-grade performance. This chip will be Intel’s first hybrid design with one high-performance Sunny Cove core and four small ones and a new Gen11 integrated GPU, both of which were announced at the Architecture Day.

The Gen11 GPU will support adaptive sync and deliver 1 Teraflop of graphics processing power. This is quite similar to Qualcomm’s big. LITTLE technology where four high-end and four low-power ARM cores are coupled to provide an optimal balance between performance and quality.

Intel Lakefield Features

Confirming that it will not be shipping the repeatedly delayed Cannonlake 10nm platform, Intel talked about its successor, Ice Lake. This will now be the widely available series of 10nm CPUs from Intel. Another tasty bit that has been detailed is Intel’s new Feverous packaging technology that allows stacking of components in 3D rather than the traditional 2D fashion.

Project Athena

This has helped Intel trim the size of the SoC to 12mm while offering traditional laptop-grade performance in a much smaller form factor. Ice Lake will feature integrated Thunderbolt 3 and Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax). Ice Lake will also introduce new instruction sets to accelerate AI and machine learning. Ice Lake CPUs are expected to ship in volume in time for the 2019 holiday shopping season, which means availability in the third quarter of this year or later.

This piece of news comes directly a day after Intel revealed that Apple will be switching to ARM processors by 2020, thereby cutting all ties with the company. From a PR perspective, it’s a direct attack on Apple’s revered MacBook Air line-up with some of the slimmest and most portable designs ever seen in the mobile PC space. This hybrid Lakefield design is also supposed to power the Project Athena initiative aimed at creating 11-inch machines that are fast yet efficient.

Intel Lakefield Architecture

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