What is unusual about Intel0 Ice Lake processes

The technological process is 10 nm. The new architecture of Sunny Cove (sunny bay). Artificial intelligence (DL Boost and GNA), focusing on maximizing core performance and stability. Something "apple" gives, is not it? The first generation of Intel’s 10nm process failed. This is damage to the company’s reputation, and lost profits (the main competitor, AMD, successfully uses the 7 nm process – this is unheard of), and the real danger of losing important customers. As always, people are to blame for everything.

What is unusual about Intel0 Ice Lake processes

Ice lake. even more powerful processors from Intel

And the technical problems that prevented the company from quickly and smartly overcoming another obstacle in their path (how many there were in the past) are just a consequence of staff problems. The second generation of Intel’s 10 nm process, according to unofficial sources, differs from the first generation by the use of extreme ultraviolet (EUV). Conventional UV, which has been successfully used in higher-dimensional technologies, is also applicable to 10- and 14-nanometer technological processes, only the process consists of an increasing number of stages, and the quantity, sooner or later, passes into quality. Becomes unmanageable.

With good old UV, ultraviolet radiation with a wavelength of 193 nm is used. EUV (Extreme UV) uses ultraviolet with a wavelength of 13.5 nm. This, on the one hand, simplifies the process – reduces the number of stages of production, reduces the likelihood of errors, but EUV is also not simple. Color with such a wavelength is absorbed by the lenses; complex mirror systems are used to control it. The costs of switching from UV to EUV, especially for a company whose revenues are decreasing, in which they are reducing staff and by every means possible, are reducing costs – are extreme. The result was, it would seem, somewhere very close, one or two more efforts and everything will work out. And no one took responsibility and did not cut the Gordian knot. Now – the decision has been made. The process is already running, but still not perfect. They also have no right to fail this time. This is a matter of life and death. The media do not believe in them. They don’t even believe more than a butterfly-type keyboard. Almost all the masterpieces of the computer and mobile industry that I know of were created precisely in such situations.

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Will the sun rise over the sunny bay?

The previous architecture, which was supposed to smash competitors to dust and dust in 2015, was called Palm Cove. Palm bay. For that time, it was advanced and almost unthinkable. Ahead of the company was the 50th anniversary, which had to be approached with new grandiose victories, maybe even returning the lost status of a leader. In 2018, the “palm bay” was not impressive, the 10 nm process stubbornly resisted, and the first trial processor with this architecture, the 2-core Cannon Lake without a graphics processor on a chip, fell victim to its own defects. TSMC and Samsung easily and effortlessly stepped forward, the situation seemed almost hopeless. Throwing a white flag, however, Intel did not.

What is unusual about Intel0 Ice Lake processes

Intel processor architecture

The new architecture, another bay – this time “solar”, was developed in the research and development center in Haifa in 2017. Around the same time, in another place (apparently, in the city of Santa Clara in California, where Intel headquarters is located), the development of a new generation graphics subsystem was completed. The previous generation, unofficially, was generation 9.5, the graphics of this generation did not differ significantly from the graphics of generation 9. Both architecture, and the first generation of processors of the new architecture, and even graphics for it, were developed for 10 nm. Incredible efforts and resources were invested in all this, and it turned out Something Great, which was tested and finalized for two more than two years.

What is unusual about Intel0 Ice Lake processes

Intel microarchitecture

At the end of this year, by the festive season, the “solar bay” should be released. If everything works out, soon after that, probably in the spring, Ice Lake will most likely be supplemented with chips for ambitiously powerful laptops. A 16- or 16.5-inch MacBook Pro, without a frame and with a new keyboard, can be built either around Ice Lake or around Apple’s proprietary processor, and I would prefer a safer option with Intel inside. Let it be a “sunny bay."

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What’s New in Ice Lake

What is unusual about Intel0 Ice Lake processes

Intel Ice Lake processor unit

Many new instructions open new horizons for developers of programs and operating systems. Intel Deep Learning Boost (DL Boost) instruction set. Gaussian and Neural Accelerator (GNA) is a specialized processor for practicing in the background tasks like processing a human voice or suppressing noise, spending a minimum of energy on all these labor-intensive tasks. And a lot of interesting things yet. Support for WiFi 6 (802.11ax) and Thunderbolt 3. Intel is involved in the development of USB 4, the new standard will also support Thunderbolt 3. I don’t know why they could not do this before, but in Ice Lake (as well as in Comet Lake, by the way) All the most popular types of RAM are supported: LPDDR4 / LPDDR4X, DDR4 and LPDDR3.

The first series of Ice Lake has 5 Y- and 6 U-chips designed for use in light and thin, including noiseless, laptops. Type MacBook Air. Intel announced another project, Athena is something like Centrino and Ultrabook. Once (in 2011), the MacBook Air was an inspiration for the Ultrabook. Athena laptops are required, among other things, to support biometric authentication, wake up from sleep in less than a second, and much more. It seems that the MacBook Air meets almost all the requirements of the new project.

Intel has radically changed the designation of processors, now it is impossible to find out which class, Y or U, a specific processor belongs to if there is no directory at hand. But the designation now indicates the type of integrated GPU. The new generation of integrated graphics consists of only three options: G1, or Intel UHD Graphics, with 32 executable blocks, G4 – Intel Iris Plus with 48 executable blocks and G7, Intel Iris Plus with 64 executable blocks. G7 performance is unprecedented for Intel iGPU, up to 1.12 Teraflops.

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This is the continuation of the 10th generation Intel Core mini-series, the previous part is here.