Intel is set to revolutionise the processor industry with its upcoming release of Meteor Lake. After several teasers and leaks, the silicon giant finally announced a release date of December 14. Pat Gelsinger also revealed that Meteor Lake will be branded as Core Ultra. No other juicy details like model numbers and prices are known yet.
One of the most significant changes in Meteor Lake is the chip design. Meteor Lake is based on a disaggregration scheme that splits the processor into four tiles, one each for the CPU, graphics, SoC, and I/O. This means the CPU and graphics are separate entities printed on different-sized silicon pieces, and then integrated into a single chip. While this approach has already been adopted by competitors like AMD and Qualcomm, it is a new venture for Intel.
The advantage of this architectural shift is twofold. Firstly it allows Intel to selectively power different components, resulting in reduced power consumption. Secondly it offers flexibility in choosing the best building blocks for specific applications, optimizing performance and efficiency. Intel believes that Meteor Lake will be able to achieve Raptor Lake performance at half the power. Although Intel 4 process is employed for the CPU, the GPU tiles utilise TSMC's 5nm process, and the I/O and SoC tile rely on TSMC N6.
Another intriguing aspect of Meteor Lake is the inclusion of Low Power Island, a new type of E-core that is embedded into the SoC. Specifically designed for tasks that prioritise low power consumption, this feature caters to a wide range of power-sensitive applications. The remaining processor cores, housed in the Compute Tile, consists of P-cores and E-cores, delivering a balance between power and performance.
Intel is doubling down on artificial intelligence with Meteor Lake. Every chip in the product stack will integrate an AI coprocessor, known as the NPU (Neural Processing Unit). This NPU ensures that AI capabilities are available across the board, offering a more efficient option for AI-related workloads. The NPU is built into the SoC tile.
Meteor Lake marks a significant leap in Intel's integrated graphics capabilities. The CPU will feature Intel Arc graphics, equipped with dedicated ray-tracing units and up to 8 Xe cores. Intel claims the Xe LPG Arc based GPU offers up to twice the performance per watt compared to previous generations. Intel's XeSS upscaling technology will be available for the first time on integrated graphics. This could potentially make it possible to play more resource-intensive games without a dedicated GPU.
Intel's collaboration with Microsoft ensures seamless integration of Meteor Lake with Windows. The new chips leverage the capabilities of the operating system, allowing for intelligent control and optimisation. Windows Task Manager now displays the NPU, providing enhanced visibility and monitoring options. This integration enables efficient resource allocation and workload distribution between the CPU, GPU, and NPU, ensuring optimal performance and power usage.
While specific performance benchmarks and battery life metrics are yet to be disclosed, Intel has hinted at significant improvements in these areas. The new Crestmont E-cores boast improved instructions per clock (IPC) gains, promising enhanced performance. The Redwood Cove P-cores, on the other hand, offer improved performance efficiency. Intel's focus on power management and workload distribution aims to deliver a balance between outstanding performance and energy efficiency.
Intel's commitment to innovation is evident in its substantial investments in manufacturing. The company plans to invest $3.5 billion in New Mexico and $7 billion in Penang, Malaysia, over the next decade. These investments will significantly ramp up production capacity for Meteor Lake and other future-generation chips.
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