Yesterday was a big day for Intel at CES 2019. The company announced 9th Gen CPUs for the desktop, four 10nm system on chips, a mobile device program, and a neural network processor.
Greg Bryant of Intel showing the Ice Lake 10nm SoC at CES 2019
That’s a lot to plow through. So here’s your tech provider’s update.
9th Gen Core processors
Intel introduced the first device in its 9th Gen Core family last October, and yesterday the company filled in the 14nm line, codenamed Coffee Lake, with other models.
Just like the 8th Gen family, the 9th gen now extends from i3 to i9. For example, one of the new parts is the 9th Gen Core i5-9400. It has 6 cores and 6 threads, and a performance rating of 2.9 GHz base / 4.1 GHz with Turbo.
This first batch of 9th Gen processors is designed for desktop systems. Mobile versions, Intel says, will be coming in the second quarter.
At CES Intel assured the world that it’s making good progress moving from today’s processor form factor of 14nm to the new one of 10nm. Company executives discussed 4 product families that will come on 10nm by their codenames:
> Ice Lake for client: This 10nm system-on-chip (SoC) is a new mobile computing platform for 2-in-1 and convertible devices. It integrates a CPU based on Intel’s new Sunny Cove microarchitecture, graphics, WiFi 6, and instructions for machine learning. Intel expects Ice Lake-based devices to be available from OEMs including Dell by this year’s coming holiday season.
> Lakefield for client: This device uses a “hybrid CPU” approach that packs 5 cores — one 10nm Sunny Cove processor plus four Atom CPUs — on a 12nm SoC. It also uses a new 3D packaging approach Intel calls Foveros. Intel has built a reference-design motherboard for Lakefield that the company says is its smallest ever. That could lead to the rise of small (sub-11-inch) yet powerful devices.
> Snow Ridge for data center: With the rise of 5G technology, Intel sees a new opportunity in supplying servers for telecom base stations. Its Snow Ridge technology essentially shrinks server technology down to a small and ruggedized form factor that can fit in a base station.
> Ice Lake for data center: The successor to Intel’s Xeon Scalable/Cascade Lake processors, it will be a 10nm device optimized to run machine-learning applications. Intel says it should be ready in 2020.
Intel wants to usher in a new era of mobile computing. At CES this week, the company introduced an industry project to do just that. Called Project Athena, it has already attracted partners that include Acer, Asus, Google, HP, Lenovo, Microsoft, Samsung and Sharp.
The goal: a new class of advanced laptops that combine world-class performance, great battery life, and advanced connectivity, all in sleek and good-looking designs. These devices will also utilize emerging technologies such as AI and 5G.
“People want a no-compromise experience,” said Greg Bryant, Intel’s senior VP of client computing.
Project Athena embraces devices running on both the Windows and Chrome OSes. The first Athena devices, Intel says, should be introduced in this year’s second half.
Neural Network Processor
Navin Shenoy, Intel’s executive VP of data center, told CES attendees that AI will soon be so ubiquitous, “you won’t talk about AI companies anymore.”
Training workloads for AI are pretty good these days. But the other main AI workload, inference, is still a challenge.
To solve that issue, Intel is working on a neural network processor for inference (NNPI) it calls Nervana. Shenoy said Nervana should be ready for its formal introduction in the second half of this year.
He also said that one of Intel's development partners for the device is Facebook.