Updated: June 10, 2020 8:52:51 pm
Intel on Wednesday announced its latest mobile processor, code-named Lakefield, aimed at foldables and dual-screen PCs. The new ultra-mobile processor leverages Intel’s Foveros 3D stacking technology.
The processor, which is about the size of a fingernail, is an entirely new class of chip that is based on a hybrid CPU architecture combining power-efficient Tremont cores with 10nm Sunny Cove cores. This type of big.LITTLE architecture has made ARM so successful in mobile devices. The idea is to separate high-performance and low-power cores to increase efficiency without sacrificing higher performance.
The current design is divided into three layers, stacked upon each other: a 14nm-built lower die features I/O connections and a 10nm CPU that features one large compute core and four smaller Atom-based ‘efficiency’ cores, similar to an ARM big.LITTLE processor. Meanwhile, DRAM is stacked atop the 3D processor in a PoP (package-on-Package) package. A Lakefield SoC not only improves power-efficiency (draws just 2mW at idle) but also offers improved graphics performance.
For years Intel has been a dominant force in the PC market, but the company faces new challenges from Qualcomm and ARM. Lakefield, which deploys a hybrid processor design, will compete with Qualcomm’s 8cx. The latter chip is designed for always-on laptops with long battery life and efficient performance.
Intel says Samsung’s always-connected laptop, the Galaxy Book S, will be the first device to ship with a Lakefield SoC. The Intel-based Galaxy Book S is just like the Qualcomm version in terms of design. The premium notebook will start shipping in June in select countries. Intel’s Lakefield SoC will also power Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold, the world’s first foldable laptop. Announced at CES 2020, ThinkPad X1 Fold has a 13.3-inch screen that can bend in half when you close the laptop. It runs Windows 10 and looks quite different from the laptops that are currently available in the market. It costs $2499 when it ships later this year.
Interestingly, there was no mention of the Surface Neo, Microsoft’s dual-screened PC, in Intel’s press release. The Surface Neo, which is powered by a Lakefield SoC, has been delayed citing unknown reasons. Microsoft in April announced that its much-ambitious Surface Neo won’t hit retail shelves during the 2020 Holiday season. The Neo, which opens like a book and features two separate screens, runs Windows 10X, a special version of Windows 10 that could run apps across more than one screen.
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