In what appears to be me just not paying attention to the press releases enough during these few days of Computex (But hey, we have quite a bit on our plates recently), Intel surprised us with quite a number of announcements that consumers should definitely look out for.

Intel 10th Generation Ice Lake Processors

 The announcement of their 10th generation processors, nicknamed “Ice Lake” came as a small surprise to me; not the announcement in itself, mind you, but the context of it. I believe this is the first time Intel has announced a mobile variant of a new node (10nm) ahead of the release of the desktop counterparts, suggesting a huge push for Intel to retain their position as market leader for laptops.

“Built on Intel’s 10nm process technology, new “Sunny Cove” core architecture and new Gen11 graphics engine, the new 10th Gen Intel® Core™ processors will take thin-and-light laptops and 2-in-1s to the next level by doubling the performance for stunning visual experiences and delivering ±2.5X artificial intelligence (AI) performance with Intel DL Boost for low latency workloads”

Intel Press Release

According to the release, there has been some hardware tweaks that allows up to 2.5X “accelerated AI performance” and a huge iGPU performance leap of 2x over the previous generations; perhaps in the graphics front, their RnD is finally paying off for them as Intel is set to release their own discrete Graphics into the market come sometime in 2020.

Expect 10th generation Y and U series processors to come very soon to laptops as the press release detailed them to be “now shipping”.

Project Athena – Next-generation performance standard for laptops

Looks like just like Nvidia, Intel is trying to re-define the standard for laptops according to certain specifications now outlined under their new initiative, Project Athena. According to the release, these specifications can be detailed as such:

“Instant Action: Modern Connected Standby and Lucid Sleep* features implement fast wake with a simple lid-lift, push of a button or quick fingerprint recognition.

Performance and Responsiveness: Systems based on Intel® Core™ i5 or i7 processors with Intel® Dynamic Tuning Technology, ≥8GB DRAM dual channel mde and ≥265GB NVMe SSD including Intel® Optane™ memory H10 options.

Intelligence: Including features such as far-field voice services and support for OpenVINO™ and WinML*. Upcoming designs based on 10th Gen Intel® Core™ processors bring broad scale intelligent performance to the laptop with Intel® Deep Learning Boost for approx. 2.5X AI performance

Battery Life: Including fast-charging capabilities over USB Type C, integration and optimization of low-power components and co-engineering support for power efficiency.

Connectivity: A fast and persistent connection with Intel® Wi-Fi 6 (Gig+) and optional Gigabit LTE. Connect to billions of USB Type C devices with Thunderbolt 3, the fastest and most versatile port available.

Form Factor: Touch display, precision touchpads and more in sleek, thin-and-light and 2 in 1 designs with narrow bezels for a more immersive experience.” Intel press release

Intel press release

It seems like these specifications already apply to the majority of new devices being released this year, though the announcement did seem a little cookie-cutter to me. Excluding the caveat of using hardware-accelerated AI features under the “Intelligence” portion of the specifications, most of these properties are already integrated to the design of thin and light laptops making this specification seem a little redundant.

Unlike the Nvidia Studio ecosystem, these specifications do not outline any immediate benefit to the user, nor provide something additional to the user experience (outside of what they already have) by using something that is Project Athena certified seems like a misstep to me.

Intel announces i9-9900KS along with Intel Performance Maximiser application

The packaging, once again, looks like a DnD dice.

Intel i9-9900KS Special Edition

In more useful news, Intel announced a special edition 9900K processor that now guarantees the 5Ghz all-core Turbo speed with the release of the i9-9900KS coming soon at the tail end of 2019.

Like what we’ve seen from last year’s special edition 8086k, the same concept has been brought back now but at a larger scale. Previously, these special editions were also tuned to be able to hit the vaunted 5Ghz mark, albeit in limited quantities.

According to the press release, there doesn’t seem to be any indication that these will again be limited so it is safe to expect that these will be more readily available than last year’s special edition processor.

Intel Performance Maximiser

In more interesting news, automatic/one-click overclocking will now be available for 9th generation processors with the use of the Intel Performance Maximiser applications; this means no more tweaking required for the lay-man to be able to make full use of their own unlocked processor which is good news.

What is interesting to note is the warranty implications of this move. Some years back, Intel introduced a Tuning Protection Plan for overclockers that accidentally damage their CPU (Here is an anandTech article talking about it).

“Confidently add performance to select 9th Gen Intel® Core™ processors with Intel® Performance Maximizer. This hyper-intelligent automated processor overclocking tool examines your processor’s individual performance DNA and programs personalized settings for custom overclocking made simple.”

Intel’s software feature introduction

With Intel now officially (or implicitly) supporting the overclocking of their CPU, we may see their CPU warranty coverage be updated to reflect this whilst scrapping away the old protection plan; don’t celebrate too soon though, the new protection plan is stated on their site as “coming soon” which seems to indicate that you are still required to pay even if you damage your processor by using this application.

Application availability seems to be targeted at OEMs(Dell, Asus etc.) for now though, and it is unclear if this will be available as a separate download for custom PC builders.

More information can be found on Intel’s official page here.

New Intel HEDT Core X series processors to come this fall

Snugged in a mere footnote of the press release, Intel also announced that there would be more HEDT chips coming in a few months’ time; though there is no mention of using a smaller node so expect it to just be a refresh of the current generation X processors.

“Plus, Intel announced the new Intel® Core™ X-series family of processors for premium creators will come this Fall. These processors will bring frequency improvements, increased memory speed and updated Intel® Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0.”

Intel press release

Intel announces 9th gen vPro processors and Xeon E workstation processors

In other less consumer centric news, Intel also announced new business and workstation targeted processors in an effort to continue to expand their CPU portfolio in their respective segments. These seemed to launch without much fanfare and offered generational improvements against its predecessors:

“Intel launched 14 new 9th Gen Intel® Core™ vPro processors for high performance mobile (H-series) and desktop (S-series) PCs, the highest performing business processors. Intel® Core™ i9 vPro™ processors – with up to 8 cores and 16 threads reaching up to 5GHz on desktop and up to 4.8GHz on mobile – join the best for business Intel® vPro™ platform for the first time, delivering superior performance on demanding workloads for an exceptional business user experience, built-in security features, remote manageability and stability.

Intel launched 14 new Intel® Xeon® E processors for mobile and desktop workstations that are purpose built with professional-grade performance, real-time data analytics capabilities, built-in platform security features, and remote manageability features as part of the Intel vPro platform. For the first time in the Intel Xeon E processors: up to 8 cores, 16 threads, 5GHz turbo frequency, Wi-Fi6 (Gig+), Optane Memory H10 and 128 GB DDR4-2666 ECC memory support.”

Intel press release

Read more on the vPro processors here.

Chia is the horse-author from the far flung year of 2153. While not grazing on grass pastures or reviewing old time-y games and technology from the early 21st century pretending to not know what comes next (as to not disturb the space-time continuum), he can be seen exchanging vast quantities of Earth currency for parts needed to fix his damaged space ship.