CPU

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IN­TEL DOES 10NM, SORT OF

After months of heartache in In­tel’s labs try­ing to get its new 10nm node man­u­fac­tur­ing up and run­ning, In­tel has fi­nally got some­thing to mar­ket. But all isn’t well. In­tel hasn’t made any fuss or even told any­one about it, which im­me­di­ately says a lot. It took some ob­ser­vant con­sumers look­ing at lap­tops to re­alise that the Len­ovo Idea­pad 330 be­ing sold in China was ship­ping with some­thing rather unique in it. The CPU within is a Core i3-8121U. In­tel hadn’t even put up its ark specs page for this CPU model at that time it was dis­cov­ered, only once the word started leak­ing did they add it.

The CPU is fairly av­er­age but has a cou­ple of odd twists. It’s a 15W dual core hy­per-threaded CPU that clocks up to 3.2GHz. Noth­ing in­ter­est­ing there. It now sup­ports LPDDR4 and LPDDR4X which is great for fur­ther power sav­ings over pre­vi­ous gen prod­ucts. The twists that makes this CPU quite od­dball is that is sup­ports AVX512, some­thing only on of­fer in the desk­top i9 se­ries pro­ces­sors, and it has no iGPU which again is very Core i9-like and ex­tremely strange for a low pow­ered lap­top part. The Len­ovo lap­top in ques­tion in­stead re­lies on AMD Radeon RX 540 dis­crete graph­ics.

It would ap­pear In­tel are just push­ing out small quan­ti­ties of as small a CPU as they can to get some money – any money – for all the ef­fort it’s pump­ing into this stub­born 10nm node. The small chip size will re­duce wafer wastage on an ob­vi­ously still im­ma­ture node.

Don’t ex­pect 10nm high end parts any time soon. Next year in all likely hood. Baby steps is still progress after all, but chances are AMD with its 7nm tech via Global Foundaries (said to be equiv­a­lent to In­tel’s 10nm process) may get to mass pro­duc­tion first, by this year even. For the first time, I be­lieve ever, AMD may well lead In­tel on the man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­nol­ogy front.

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