TAIPEI—In an inversion of the usual Computex order of things—in which Intel typically sets the tone with its major keynote on Tuesday, the trade show’s opening day—AMD is instead in the perceived 2019 Computex driver’s seat. AMD’s CEO and president, Dr. Lisa Su, is slated to head off the Computex trade show with presumptive big news from the world of consumer CPUs as the keynote speaker on Monday morning.
To slow some of that momentum, Intel teased some of its wares the night before AMD’s big moment: Its “Ice Lake” 10-nanometer, 10th Generation mobile processors are indeed coming, and the company shared some info about these long-awaited chips’ integrated graphics performance. The company also noted that a special version of the desktop Core i9-9900K, its top mainstream-line CPU, will go on sale this year. Its key distinction will be some tweakage to its core clocks.
Ice Is on the Horizon
For starters, 10-nanometer (nm) “Ice Lake” CPUs will ship in volume as mobile CPUs first, not desktop chips. Intel confirmed that the Ice Lake chips will be based on Intel’s “Sunny Cove” architecture and incorporate what the company is calling its Gen11 integrated graphics solution. The platform will also work support both Wi-Fi 6 and Thunderbolt 3.
The first Ice Lake chips will ship “this year,” according to a teaser brief shared by the company.
More Ice Lake details will likely follow at the Tuesday keynote, but for now, Intel is pushing the capabilities of the CPUs’ onboard graphics, a traditional sore point on mainstream Intel chips versus AMD. The key slide shared here is this one:
This compares integrated graphics processor (IGP) performance from a commonly deployed “Whiskey Lake” U-series mobile chip and one of the upcoming Ice Lake mobile CPUs. Mind you: This is Intel’s own internal testing. But the uptick across a range of key game titles is dramatic, among them team shooters with immense online followings (CS:GO, Rainbow Six: Siege).
The company also cited AI improvements, with inferencing upticks that will “usher in a new era of intelligent performance for PCs.” The AI measure is according to Principled Technologies’ AIXPRT benchmark.
In addition, the Gen 11 IGP will be the first IGP to incorporate a feature called “variable rate shading.” In this rendering approach, portions of the video image that are less likely to be focused on by the user at a given moment are allocated less shader resources, freeing up muscle for other rendering work.
In one Intel slide, a 25-watt Ryzen 7 U and an Ice Lake U-series chip (the latter upticked to 25 watts for a fair comparison, according to reporting by Anandtech) get compared, showing a nontrivial performance uptick in a specific UL 3DMark feature test with the feature turned on versus off:
A Special Desktop Chip
The other tease from Intel: a tweaked version of the Core i9-9900K, its eight-core/16-thread desktop-CPU power monster. Dubbed the Core i9-9900KS, Intel claims that this new chip will run all eight of its cores at 5GHz. (The non-S Core i9-9900K hits this peak with just one core.)
This is along the lines of the Limited Edition of the Core i7 Intel rolled out in 2018, the Core i7-8086K. That chip was an upticked version of the then-flagship Core i7-8700K, with a single core out of its six cores running at 5GHz. It sold for a modest premium over the vanilla Core i7-8700K.
No pricing or availability data on the i9-9900KS was shared ahead of the Tuesday Intel keynote. At that event on Tuesday, May 28, we expect to hear more about the Ice Lake brigade and the Core i9-9900KS, among other Intel news. Stay tuned.