All of that makes Arc a lot more serious than Larrabee, Intel’s last effort to break into the dedicated graphics market. Larrabee was canceled late in its development because of delays and disappointing performance, and Arc GPUs are actual things that you can buy (if only in a limited way, for now). But the challenges of entering the GPU market haven’t changed since the late 2000s. Breaking into a mature market is difficult, and experience with integrated GPUs isn’t always applicable to dedicated GPUs with more complex hardware and their own pool of memory. Regardless of the company’s plans for future architectures, Arc’s launch has been messy. And while the company is making some efforts to own those problems, a combination of performance issues, timing, and financial pressures could threaten Arc’s future. There’s a lot of chatter that Intel might axe Arc completely, before it’s really truly out of the gate. I really hope those rumours are wrong or overblown, since the GPU market desperately needs a 3rd serious competitor. I hope Intel takes a breather, and allows the Arc team to be in it for the long haul, so that we as consumers can benefit from more choice in the near future.
In the world of today’s high performance CPUs, major architectural changes don’t happen often. Iterating off a proven base is safer, cheaper, and faster than attempting to massively rework the basics of how a CPU fetches and executes instructions. But more than 20 years ago, things hadn’t settled down yet. Intel made two attempts to replace its solid but aging P6 microarchitecture with something completely different. One was Itanium, which avoided the complexity associated with out-of-order execution and variable length decode to deliver very wide in-order execution. Pentium 4 was the other, and we’ll be taking a look at it in this article. Its microarchitecture, called Netburst, targeted very high clock speeds using a long pipeline. Alongside this key feature, it brought a wide range of innovative architectural features. As we all know, it didn’t quite pan out the way Intel would have liked. But this architecture was an important learning experience for Intel, and was arguably key to the company’s later success. The Pentium 4 era was wild, with insane promises Intel could not fulfill, but at the same time, an are of innovation and progress that would help Intel in later years. Fascinating time.
Intel apologized on Thursday after a letter in which the chip maker said it would avoid products and labor from Xinjiang set off an outcry on Chinese social media, making it the latest American company caught between the world’s two largest economies. The chip maker apologized to its Chinese customers, partners and the public in a Chinese-language statement on Weibo, the popular social media site. The company said that the letter, which had been sent to suppliers, was an effort at expressing its compliance with United States sanctions against Xinjiang, rather than a political stance. Intel following in the footsteps of major US companies supporting genocide – Ford, IBM, Apple, and countless others.
Overall though, it’s no denying that Intel is now in the thick of it, or if I were to argue, the market leader. The nuances of the hybrid architecture are still nascent, so it will take time to discover where benefits will come, especially when we get to the laptop variants of Alder Lake. At a retail price of around $650, the Core i9-12900K ends up being competitive between the two Ryzen 9 processors, each with their good points. The only serious downside for Intel though is cost of switching to DDR5, and users learning Windows 11. That’s not necessarily on Intel, but it’s a few more hoops than we regularly jump through. Competition is amazing.
I was wondering what would be the ultimate upgrade for my 386 motherboard. It has a 386 CPU soldered-in, an unpopulated 386 PGA socket and a socket for either 387 FPU or 486 PGA or (might take a Weitek as well – not quite sure) and even might have a soldered-in 486SX PQFP. Plenty of options… But how about hacking a Pentium in? Nothing about this makes any sense, and yet, it’s just plain awesome.
Well, it’s almost here. It looks like Intel will take the ST crown, although MT is a bit of a different story, and might rely explicitly on the software being used or if the difference in performance is worth the price. The use of the hybrid architecture might be an early pain point, and it will be interesting to see if Thread Director remains resilient to the issues. The bump up to Windows 11 is also another potential rock in the stream, and we’re seeing some teething issues from users, although right now users who are looking to early adopt a new CPU are likely more than ready to adopt a new version of Windows at the same time. The discourse on DDR4 vs DDR5 is one I’ve had for almost a year now. Memory vendors seem ready to start seeding kits to retailers, however the expense over DDR4 is somewhat eyewatering. The general expectation is that DDR5 won’t offer much performance uplift over a good kit of DDR4, or might even be worse. The benefit of DDR5 then at this point is more to start on that DDR5 ladder, where the only way to go is up. This will be Intel’s last DDR4 platform on desktop it seems. Intel is taking a different approach than AMD, and follows more in the footsteps of ARM chips – there’s both performance and efficiency cores, and it’s up to Intel’s and others’ software to make proper use of it. It’s great to see what competition can lead to, and both AMD and Apple have lit a fire under this entire industry.
“Intel Seamless Update” is a forthcoming feature for Intel platforms seemingly first being exposed by their new Linux kernel patches working on the functionality… Intel is working on being able to carry out system firmware updates such as UEFI updates but doing so at run-time and being able to avoid the reboot in the process. Pretty cool, but sadly, it’s only for enterprise machines and upcoming Xeon processors.
In today’s Intel Accelerated event, the company is driving a stake into the ground regarding where it wants to be by 2025. CEO Pat Gelsinger earlier this year stated that Intel would be returning to product leadership in 2025, but hasn’t yet explained how this is coming about – that is until today, where Intel has disclosed its roadmap for its next five generations of process node technology leading to 2025. Intel believes it can follow an aggressive strategy to match and pass its foundry rivals, while at the same time developing new packaging offerings and starting a foundry business for external customers. On top of all this, Intel has renamed its process nodes. Counting Intel out because they’re facing some really tough years is not very smart. I obviously have no idea when they’ll be on top again, but this industry has proven to have its ups and downs for the two major players, and I have little doubt the roles will become reversed again over time.
Our results clearly show that Intel’s performance, while substantial, still trails its main competitor, AMD. In a core-for-core comparison, Intel is slightly slower and a lot more inefficient. The smart money would be to get the AMD processor. However, due to high demand and prioritizing commercial and enterprise contracts, the only parts readily available on retail shelves right now are from Intel. Any user looking to buy or build a PC today has to dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge their way to find one for sale, and also hope that it is not at a vastly inflated price. The less stressful solution would be to buy Intel, and use Intel’s latest platform in Rocket Lake. This is Intel’s 10nm design backported to 14nm. It’s not great, and lags behind AMD substantially, but with the chip shortage, it’s probably the only processor you can get at a halfway reasonable price for the foreseeable future.
Intel CEO Bob Swan is stepping down from the position on February 15th, the company has announced. He will be replaced by VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger. Swan was named Intel’s permanent CEO two years ago in January 2019. He initially took on the role on an interim basis in June 2018 following the resignation of Intel’s previous CEO Brian Krzanich. They need a Lisa Su.
Today may be Halloween, but what Intel is up to is no trick. Almost a year after showing off their alpha silicon, Intel’s first discrete GPU in over two decades has been released and is now shipping in OEM laptops. The first of several planned products using the DG1 GPU, Intel’s initial outing in their new era of discrete graphics is in the laptop space, where today they are launching their Iris Xe MAX graphics solution. Designed to complement Intel’s Xe-LP integrated graphics in their new Tiger Lake CPUs, Xe MAX will be showing up in thin-and-light laptops as an upgraded graphics option, and with a focus on mobile creation. With AMD stepping up to the plate with their latest high-end cards, it’s very welcome to see Intel attacking the lower end of the market. They have a roadmap to move up, though, so we might very well end up with three graphics card makers to choose from – a luxury we haven’t seen in about twenty years.
The big notebook launch for Intel this year is Tiger Lake, its upcoming 10nm platform designed to pair a new graphics architecture with a nice high frequency for the performance that customers in this space require. Over the past few weeks, we’ve covered the microarchitecture as presented by Intel at its latest Intel Architecture Day 2020, as well as the formal launch of the new platform in early September. The missing piece of the puzzle was actually testing it, to see if it can match the very progressive platform currently offered by AMD’s Ryzen Mobile. Today is that review, with one of Intel’s reference design laptops. AnandTech’s deep dive into Intel’s new platform, which is the first chip to use Intel’s much-improved graphics processor.
In August, Intel ran one of its rare Architecture Days where the company went into some detail about its upcoming Tiger Lake processor. This included target markets, core counts, graphics counts, a look into some of the new acceleration features, and a promise of a product launch later in the year. That product launch is now here, and Intel is providing Tiger Lake with speeds and feeds, providing detail and expected benchmark performance for Intel’s next generation of notebook-class devices. A whole slew of laptops using Tiger Lake processors have also been announced today, as well as something called “Intel Evo“, which is a set of specifications OEMs can adhere to for especially high-end ultrabooks (sadly, Evo is entirely Windows-focused, and zero work has been done for other operating systems, such as Linux).
As part of today’s Intel Architecture Day, Intel is devoting a good bit of its time to talking about the company’s GPU architecture plans. Though not a shy spot for Intel, per-se, the company is still best known for its CPU cores, and the amount of marketing attention they’ve put into the graphics side of their business has always been a bit weaker as a result. But, like so many other things at Intel, times are changing – not only is Intel devoting ever more die real estate to GPUs, but over the next two years they are transitioning into a true third player in the PC GPU space, launching their first new discrete GPU in several generations. As part of Intel’s previously-announced Xe GPU architecture, the company intends to become a top-to-bottom GPU provider. This means offering discrete and integrated GPUs for everything from datacenters and HPC clusters to high-end gaming machines and laptops. This is a massive expansion for a company whom for the last decade has only been offering integrated GPUs, and one that has required a lot of engineering to get here. But, at long last, after a couple of years of talking up Xe and laying out their vision, Xe is about to become a reality for Intel’s customers. While we’ll focus on different Xe-related announcements in separate articles – with this one focusing on Xe-LP – let’s quickly recap the state of Intel’s Xe plans, what’s new as of today, and where Xe-LP fits into the bigger picture. AnandTech dives into the first pillar of Intel’s GPU plans – integrated graphics and entry-level dedicated GPUs. The other two pillars – high-end enthusiast use/datacenter, and HPC – will be covered in other AnandTech articles.
For a while now Intel has been quietly been working on “mOS” as the “multi-OS” that is a modified version of the Linux kernel that in turn is running lightweight kernels for high-performance computing purposes. Intel mOS has been seldom talked about (or incredibly rare, based on public searches) as it’s still largely a research project but showing much potential in the area of high performance computing for delivering better scalability and reliability of HPC workloads. In fact, mOS can already be used on some supercomputers like ASCI Red, IBM Blue Gene, and others. I indeed had never heard of this project before. Interesting.
Intel’s Chief Engineering Officer Murthy Renduchintala is departing, part of a move in which a key technology unit will be separated into five teams, the chipmaker said on Monday. Intel said it is reorganizing its technology, systems architecture and client group. Its new leaders will report directly to Chief Executive Officer Bob Swan. Ann Kelleher, a 24-year Intel veteran, will lead development of 7-nanometer and 5-nanometer chip technology processes. Last week, the company had said the smaller, faster 7-nanometer chipmaking technology was six months behind schedule and it would have to rely more on outside chipmakers to keep its products competitive. Heads were going to roll eventually after so many years of 10 nm and now 7 nm delays. Intel is in a very rough spot.
Intel announced today in its Q2 2020 earnings release that it has now delayed the rollout of its 7nm CPUs by six months relative to its previously-planned release date, undoubtedly resulting in wide-ranging delays to the company’s roadmaps. Intel’s press release also says that yields for its 7nm process are now twelve months behind the company’s internal targets, meaning the company isn’t currently on track to produce its 7nm process in an economically viable way. The company now says its 7nm CPUs will not debut on the market until late 2022 or early 2023. Intel is in big trouble.
For the past two years, modern CPUs—particularly those made by Intel—have been under siege by an unending series of attacks that make it possible for highly skilled attackers to pluck passwords, encryption keys, and other secrets out of silicon-resident memory. On Tuesday, two separate academic teams disclosed two new and distinctive exploits that pierce Intel’s Software Guard eXtension, by far the most sensitive region of the company’s processors. The new SGX attacks are known as SGAxe and CrossTalk. Both break into the fortified CPU region using separate side-channel attacks, a class of hack that infers sensitive data by measuring timing differences, power consumption, electromagnetic radiation, sound, or other information from the systems that store it. The assumptions for both attacks are roughly the same. An attacker has already broken the security of the target machine through a software exploit or a malicious virtual machine that compromises the integrity of the system. While that’s a tall bar, it’s precisely the scenario that SGX is supposed to defend against. Is this ever going to stop?
Over the past 12 months, Intel has slowly started to disclose information about its first hybrid x86 platform, Lakefield. This new processor combines one ‘big’ CPU core with four ‘small’ CPU cores, along with a hefty chunk of graphics, with Intel setting out to deliver a new computing form factor. Highlights for this processor include its small footprint, due to new 3D stacking ‘Foveros’ technology, as well as its low standby SoC power, as low as 2.5 mW, which Intel states is 91% lower than previous low power Intel processors. This is Intel’s latest attempt to take on ARM in very thin laptops and tablets and other low-power devices.
One thing that Intel has learned through the successive years of the reiterating the Skylake microarchitecture on the same process but with more cores has been optimization – the ability to squeeze as many drops out of a given manufacturing node and architecture as is physically possible, and still come out with a high-performing product when the main competitor is offering similar performance at a much lower power. Intel has pushed Comet Lake and its 14nm process to new heights, and in many cases, achieving top results in a lot of our benchmarks, at the expense of power. There’s something to be said for having the best gaming CPU on the market, something which Intel seems to have readily achieved here when considering gaming in isolation, though now Intel has to deal with the messaging around the power consumption, similar how AMD had to do in the Vishera days. Intel has been able to eek some god performance out of these processors, but all at the expense of power consumption.