INTEL WANTS TO GIVE YOU A HEADACHE as it's just launched tenth-gen laptop-grade Core processors in U and Y-Series formats.
Though, confusingly, Intel recently launched its 10th-gen Ice Lake CPUs based on the 10-nanometre processors, the firm's latest Comet Lake processors use a refined version of Intel's 14nm process node rather than the seemingly more advanced 10nm node.
So as if Intel's chip lineup wasn't confusing enough, the chipmaker now has two families of mobile CPUs to plonk into upcoming laptops; luckily for you, we're here to simplify things.
Ice Lake processors, which we detailed recently, are designed to be slotted into properly thin and light ultraportable laptops. The CPUs - most of which are available in quad-core configurations - offer the usual blend of performance and power efficiency to maximize battery life, while Gen11 Iris Plus graphics provide laptops that are more capable than those with eighth-gen Core i processors. Intel seems to have skipped having ninth-gen U and Y-Series CPUs.
Comet Lake chips, on the other hand, are designed to be proper mobile powerhouses with up to six cores and 12 threads, yet Intel promises they won't glug down more power than their eighth-gen predecessors with fewer cores.
Sporting Intel UHD graphics rather than the more powerful integrated Iris Pro accelerators, Comet Lake processors are being targeted more at laptops that come with discrete graphics options such as Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1650 Ti. This means Intel will be providing silicon with plenty of general compute capacity in a laptop-grade chip, while the likes of AMD and Nvidia will deliver the graphics clout.
As such, we can expect thin gaming and productivity-focused laptops to use Comet Lake CPUs, which also come with good stuff like Wi-Fi 6 support and compatibility with LPDDR4x RAM. There's also some artificial intelligence powering clout as well, with Intel touting better Amazon Alexa performance.
On the high-end sits the Core i7-107110U - don't worry Intel, that's not difficult to remember at all - which sports six cores and 12 threads, has 12MB of cache to play with, and runs from 1.1GHz to 4.7GHz. The reason for that seemingly low base clock speed is because the thermal design power of the CPU has a nominal of 15W and can be configured up to 25W, effectively meaning its power draw can be scaled to suit workloads while ensuring battery power isn't being guzzled needlessly.
There are three more U-Series Comet Lake CPUs including the quad-core, eight-thread Core i7-10510U and Core i5-10210U, which are pretty similar, with the Core i5 having lower clock speeds and 6MB rather than 8MB of cache.
The dual-core, four-thread Core i3-10110U brings up the rear with slightly slower clock speeds than the previous pair of chips and 4MB of cache.
For the Y-Series, more cores have been added into the equation than the eighth-gen Y parts, with the Core i7-100510Y coming with four cores and eight threads. With 8MB of cache, a base clock speed of 1.2GHz and a turbo boost of 4.5GHz, the CPU promises a hike in performance over its predecessors. TDP can be configured as low as 4.5W to sip power or go up to 9W to offer more performance.
It's the same story for the Core i5-10310Y and Core i5-10210Y, only these chips have 6MB of cache. The only dual-core CPU is the Core i3-10110Y.
Given Comet Lake has been designed to target more performance-orientated laptops, one might ask why the Y-Series processors are needed when Intel has Ice Lake.
From what we can gather, it means there's more choice for laptop makers to configure laptops for all manner of tasks, power consumption and price points. And we suspect that Intel's 10nm fabrication process isn't ready to crank out all manner of CPUs just yet.
Comet Lake appears to be business as usual for mainstream Intel mobile processors, but we'll have to wait and see what laptop makers do with Ice Lake and Comet Lake chips in their future machines.
But at least with the higher end Comet Lake CPUs, Intel seems to have given them a performance boost, which should hopefully mean more capable yet easily portable laptops that don't run out of juice too quickly. µ
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