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Intel roadmap shows 2Q rollout for 10nm Ice Lake and 3-5W Lakefield chips

Apr 26, 2019 — by Eric Brown 3,391 views

After Intel rolled out 26 new 9th Gen Core models, a leaked Intel roadmap revealed a 2Q launch for its 10nm Ice Lake chips and a low-power Lakefield processor that combines an Ice Lake core with 4x Atom Tremont cores.

It was a busy two weeks for Intel watchers. After unveiling 26 new 14nm 9th Gen Coffee Lake Refresh Core processors, a leaked Intel roadmap revealed launch plans for Intel Core and Atom processors through the end of 2021. Of particular interest for embedded Linux developers is a hybrid Lakefield processor design that combines a 10nm Ice Lake core and 4x Atom Tremont cores.

The leak might have been intended to change the media focus from some other recent Intel setbacks. Earlier in the month, Apple and Qualcomm ended their legal dispute, thereby sealing the deal for Qualcomm to once again supply iPhones with 5G modems instead of a planned arrangement with Intel. Shortly after the announcement, Intel announced it was halting plans to enter the 5G baseband chip market, and yesterday the chipmaker confirmed that the Apple/Qualcomm agreement motivated its exit from the market. Others, however, argue that Apple’s decision to settle with Qualcomm was motivated by its belief that Intel could not deliver the goods.


The 5G news was followed on May 25 by Intel’s release of an earnings report that showed a lower than expected revenue forecast. Intel projected full year revenue of $69 billion compared to earlier estimates of $71.05 billion. Since Intel’s full-year 2018 total was $70.8 billion, this would be the company’s first revenue drop since 2015. As a result, Intel’s stock fell more than 7 percent.

Intel Optane H10
(click image to enlarge)

It hasn’t all been bad news for Intel. Earlier this month, Intel strengthened its Atheros based FPGA business by acquiring Omnitek, a UK based developer of video and vision-focused FPGA IP. Intel also announced a new version of its Intel Optane memory called Optane H10 that integrates Optane with Intel QLC 3D NAND on a single M.2 module, thereby making it easier to add Optane to lightweight notebooks and other constrained devices. Intel, which promises the technology will provide faster document launch times, among other benefits, is introducing the new drives with third-party systems using its low-power, 8th Gen Core U-series processors.

Below, we’ll look first at the roadmap leak, focusing primarily on Lakefield and other lower-powered chips used in embedded Linux projects. We’ll also summarize the latest 9th Gen and two new vPro Whiskey Lake chips.

Intel’s Ice Lake and hybrid Lakefield

The leaked Intel roadmap, which appeared initially on a Dutch site called, is from a 2019 Dell presentation. As detailed in an April 24 Tom’s Hardware post on the roadmap, there are several surprises. For example, Intel plans a market launch of its 10nm U- and Y-series Ice Lake chips, as well as its partially Ice Lake based Lakefield processors by the end of June rather than the expected end-of-year launch. Also new is the revelation that Lakefield will have a 3-5W TDP, which is lower than any Atom-level CPU to date.

Lakefield, which was first detailed by Intel in February, follows the trend found in Arm-based SoCs toward hybrid designs. These include smartphone SoCs that follow Arm’s Big.Little and newer DynamIQ schemes for combining different Cortex architectures and clock rates on a single SoC.

In the case of Lakefield, Intel is using a chiplets design approach that mixes two entirely different product lines with cores fabricated with different processes on a single processor. Here, a 10nm Ice Lake “Sunny Cove” core will team up with 4x 10nm Tremont architecture cores. The tiny, 12mm SoC will offer longer battery life than earlier Atom SoCs while also featuring Intel Gen11 graphics.

Tom’s Hardware says Lakefield is initially being developed for a single customer. However, a Lakefield refresh is on the map for 2020.

Foveros conceptual diagram (left) and Lakefield block diagram
Source: Intel via Tweaktown
(click images to enlarge)

Lakefield will be the testing ground for a new 3D stacking technique called Foveros for logic-on-logic die stacking. Previously, die stacking techniques have been limited to stacking memory and passives. Intel’s Foveros extends that to CPUs, GPUs, and AI chips. Foveros is designed specifically for hybrid designs using chiplets, enabling I/O, SRAM and power circuits to be fabricated in a base die while high-performance logic chiplets are stacked on top.

AMD is experimenting with a different type of hybrid chiplets design with some of its upcoming processors based on its 7nm-fabricated Zen 2 architecture. It’s unclear, however, if the chiplets approach will be used with the 3rd generation Ryzen 3000 or the similarly Zen 2 based Epyc or HEDT Threadripper chips.

With AMD’s approach, the I/O chip will use an older process than the CPU to lower costs. The basic concept is the same: instead of producing monolithic CPUs, which have lower yields when fabricated with the increasingly atomic-level 10nm and 7nm processes, there will be composite designs made of smaller chips with higher yields.

Intel roadmap: the land of 10,000 lakes

Lakefield’s high-powered Ice Lake core uses Sunny Cove, a new CPU microarchitecture with power/performance improvements and acceleration of tasks such as AI and cryptography. Sunny Cove “enables reduced latency and high throughput, as well as offers much greater parallelism,” says Intel.

Intel’s core architecture roadmap for Core and Atom processors
Source: Intel, Dec. 2018
(click image to enlarge)

Ice Lake will be the first Intel Core generation to use Sunny Cove, which will be followed by a Willow Cove architecture in 2020 with a redesigned cache, new security features, and transistor optimization. In 2021 we’ll see Golden Cove, featuring more performance improvements, security features, and 5G support. The Lakefield Atom chips will also use Intel’s first 10nm Atom architecture, called Tremont, which will be followed in 2021 by a Gracemont architecture.

Intel’s roadmap indicates the initial Ice Lake release will be limited, although an Ice Lake Refresh early next year will likely bring greater volume. This will be followed by another 10nm Intel Core design called Tiger Lake. Like Ice Lake, Tiger Lake will initially be limited to up to quad-core U-series and even lower-powered Y-series designs. Although that’s good news for embedded, those looking for 10nm Intel desktop processors will likely need to wait until 2021.

Intel Client Commercial CPU Roadmap

(click image to enlarge)

Intel is also planning at least two more 14nm Core generations. Comet Lake is due in the second half of this year, starting with U-series models. Higher powered H-series models will follow later, and a super low—power Y-series is due in early 2020. Comet Lake enables 6-core U-series chips for the first time, as well as the first 10-core H-series models.

There’s also a Rocket Lake design due to Q3 2020 that combines a 14nm CPU with 10nm graphics — another example of chiplets. Other Rocket Lake models will use 14nm for both CPU and GPU.

Intel Client Mobile CPU Planning Roadmap
(click image to enlarge)

In the realm of lower-powered Atom system-on-chips, which appears to be losing the Atom brand in favor of Celeron and Pentium, a refresh round of Gemini Lake SoCs is expected later this quarter. These Gemini Lake Refresh SoCs will be followed in the second half of 2020 with 10nm fabricated Skyhawk Lake and Elkhart SoCs using the Tremont architecture. The Elkhart Atom will target the IoT market with 3-5W TDPs while Skyhawk Lake will be the mainstream Atom processor at 6-10W.

More 9th Gen Core and Whiskey Lake chips arrive

Back to the here and now, Intel has announced 26 more 9th Gen Coffee Lake Refresh desktop and mobile chips. The release, which is exhaustively detailed on AnandTech, includes the first six mobile H-series 9th Gen chips with 45W TDPs.

Intel 9th Gen feature diagram (left) 9th Gen Mobile H-series processors
(click images to enlarge)

The leading mobile 9th Gen Mobile chip is the 2.4GHz/4.9GHz i9-9980HK, the sibling to the similarly overclockable, 8-core, 16-thread i9-9900K with 95W TDP, which just appeared on Compulab’s Airtop3 system. There is also a similar, but not overclockable, 2.3GHz/4.7GHz i9-9980H model, as well as hexa-core i7 and quad-core i5 models, which also offer dual threading.

In addition to the 45W mobile H-series chips, there are new 35W T-series models in Core, Celeron, and Pentium Gold versions. These are all dual-core chips, but a few, such as the octa-core, 16-thread Core i9-9900T with 2.1GHz/4.4GHz clock, are dual threaded.

Earlier this month, Intel also announced some new 8th Gen Whiskey Lake-U chips that offer vPro technology. The 1.9GHz/4.8GHz Core i7-8665U and 1.6GHz/4.1GHz Core i5-8365U are both quad-core, 8-thread designs with 15W TDPs. We’ve seen recent adoption of the first round of Whiskey Lake — a spinoff of 8th Gen Coffee Lake — in devices such as ASRock’s iBox-8365U mini-PC, as well as various SBCs. vPro technology adds security features such as Intel’s Hardware Shield technology.

Further information

More information on Intel’s April announcements may be found at the Intel Newsroom.

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