Intel announces new 10th gen Comet Lake-U and Y CPUs led by the 6C/12T Core i7-10710U
During the recent launch of 10nm Ice Lake CPUs, Intel hinted about more workload-optimized processors for high productivity on the anvil. Today, the company has officially taken wraps off one such series — Comet Lake-U and Y. Comet Lake-U is is the successor to the 8th gen Whiskey Lake and will introduce the first 6-core 12-thread part in a ULV package. Comet Lake shares the 10th generation with Ice Lake, and both processor families will be co-marketed so customers can choose between a totally new architecture with improved IPC and a well-oiled 14nm processor that is optimized for multi-threaded workflows. Let's check out what the new Comet Lake series for laptops entails.
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10th gen naming scheme - Potential for confusion
The processor nomenclature for the 10th gen series can get a bit confusing for new buyers and Intel admitted that this could be a problem in the initial phase of availability. That being said, it is relatively easy to identify the processor families by having a good look at the naming.
The Ice Lake series will have a four-digit number after the CPU brand followed by the graphics level (G1, G4, and G7). Most Ice Lake SKUs also come with Iris Plus Graphics and that will be prominently displayed alongside the CPU sticker. Comet Lake, on the other hand, has a five-digit numbering scheme and carries either the U or Y series branding depending on the SKU.
Platform architecture — Largely identical to Whiskey Lake
The new 400-series PCH is very much similar to the 8th gen Whiskey Lake with a few new on-die additions. In Comet Lake, the PCH now offers integrated Wi-Fi 6 support and can support LPDDR4x 2933, LPDDR3 2133, and DDR4 2666 memory. The PCH also supports the new Thunderbolt 3 architecture for reduced latency. OEMs can still choose to offer the traditional Thunderbolt 3 setup if they wish.
The integrated graphics continues to be the UHD Graphics Gen9.5 type with 24 EUs (except the Core i3, which has 23 EUs). Intel did not specifically mention the exact SKU, but our initial tests tell us that this is indeed a UHD Graphics 620.
Performance — Little gains over Whiskey Lake
Intel claims about a 16% overall performance increase and about 41% productivity increase over Whiskey Lake. Of course, those numbers are from Intel's tests wherein the 6C/12T Core i7-10710U running at a PL1 of 25W was pitted against the 4C/8T Core i7-8565U running at a a PL1 of 15W. However, we found the results to be more of a 5% gain over the Core i7-8565U in preliminary benchmarks done on an early Schenker sample powered by the new Core i7-10510U at stock voltages. Even constraining the TDP of both the chips to 17W yielded similar results. The 5% variance can be due to binning differences so we'd like to say that there is not much of a performance leap in upgrading from your current Whiskey Lake laptop — at least not from initial tests. We will continue to do more Comet Lake evaluations in the days to come so watch this space.
A neat addition in this generation is the inclusion of Adaptix Dynamic Tuning that uses AI to dynamically allow for longer sustained boost performance depending on the laptop's design. Intel says we can expect gains between 8 to 12%, but we will have to test Adaptix across a range of chassis designs to see how well it works in the real world.
SKUs and Availability
The Comet Lake series for notebooks will have a total of eight SKUs — four U-series and four Y-series. The Comet Lake-U series is available in a 15W nominal TDP with the Y-series at 7W. The Core i7-10710U is the flagship U-series chip with 6 cores and 12 threads, and a 12 MB cache. Intel did not commit to listing multiple turbo frequencies as was speculated with earlier leaks, but OEMs indicated that Intel did refer to core-wise turbo speeds in internal documents. For example, the Core i7-10710U will have a base clock of 1.1 GHz and a turbo of 4.7 GHz for single and dual-core, 4.1 GHz for four cores, and 3.9 GHz for all cores.
All U-series processors support LPDDR4x 2933, LPDDR3 2133, and DDR4 2666 RAM. The Core i3-10110U is the entry-level offering with 2 cores 4 threads and a 23 EU iGPU configuration. Intel said that for the kind of workloads this SKU is targeted at, having an EU less will not make a perceivable difference to performance.
The Comet Lake-Y series is aimed at more energy constrained notebooks. Here, the range starts from the Core i3-10110Y and tops with the Core i7-10510Y. The Y-series supports only LPDDR3 2133 RAM and Intel said that it was a conscious decision keeping in mind the power constraints and expected performance from this series.
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Intel said that more than 90 notebook designs based on Comet Lake will be hitting the shelves by Holiday 2019. Based on what we hear from OEMs, the first Comet Lake-U and Ice Lake laptops should start shipping by Q3 this year. Many OEMs will also be offering laptops that adhere to Project Athena standards wherein the emphasis is on an always connected, highly reliable laptop experience with all-day battery life. vPro versions of Comet Lake for commercial customers are slated to be available sometime later in H2 2019.
Intel Press Brief