It’s been delayed so many times we thought it was never going to happen but Intel has finally unveiled its 10th Gen Core processors utilising the 10nm Ice Lake architecture. This brings to an end a four-year delay in terms of Intel progressing to the 10nm process. It’s happened just in the nick of time as well, with Intel poised to take the wind out of AMD’s sails following its Ryzen 3000 series reveal.
Intel Ice Lake will bring about an average 18% increase in IPC (instructions per cycle) when compared to its (now aging) Skylake microarchitecture. Team Blue is keen to tout 40% improvements in some use cases, but the bottom line Icelake this is an 18% average IPC improvement on Skylake. Skylake is four years old, so you’ll excuse us if we’re not overly impressed.
It was only yesterday we reported on AMD stealing the performance crown away from Intel. They were small margins though, and Intel has been swift in attempting to return the favour. Attempt is certainly the operative word here.
The disappointing news for gamers is, as per the rumours, Intel 10th Gen is coming to laptops and tablets first. Utilising the 10nm fabrication process allows for greater performance and power efficiency, an area which clearly benefits battery-guzzling laptops. None of the desktop chips are being talked about at all really, with Ice Lake’s mobile chips coming with up to 4C/8T and packing low power draw 9W, 15W, and 28W CPUs.
Desktop parts will be coming, but you will probably have to wait a fair while Intel Ice Lake will be in laptops before the year’s end, as well as a few select HEDT chips. Mainstream desktop 10nm processors will have to wait until 2020.
What we’re dealing with now then is on a purely architectural level. The improvements are significant when we compare, as Intel does, Ice Lake to Skylake, some four generations old. The actual performance gap between 8th Gen Whiskey Lake and 10th Gen Ice Lake isn’t actually that big of a deal though.
Where things do get interesting, however, is in terms of the graphical horsepower. Gen 11 integrated graphics are integrated for the first time on 10th Gen Core processors, delivering 1.12 TFLOPS of FP32 computer performance. That’s nearly double the performance of 8th Gen Core UHD 620 graphics, and quite a landmark for iGPUs. It’s not exactly going to be ideal for gaming, a dedicated graphics will be the clearly superior choice, but some decent frame rates can even be achieved at 1080p in certain games. Gen 11 Intel graphics could well excel at 720p or 900p though, particularly among eSports titles such as CSGO and Rocket League.
Overall, it’s a silver lining on what’s been a cloudy few years for Intel. It’s struggled with the 10nm process, lost its CEO, and suffered countless security failures such as Spectre, Meltdown, and more recently, Zombieload, RIDL, and Fallout. AMD has used this to gradually claw back market share from Intel, so in a sense, Intel 10th Gen 10nm Ice Lake couldn’t have come at a better time.
However, AMD Ryzen 3000 is with us in just six weeks’ time. We’re actually going to be able to get our hands on those products in July, whereas desktop 10nm parts could be year-long wait from Intel. It’s an improvement from Intel, particularly in terms of integrated graphics, but perhaps not enough to tip the scales just yet.