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Intel details first tenth-gen laptop chips coming this year

Intel has revealed full specs for its first wave of 10th-gen ‘Ice Lake’ processors, which will be arriving in laptops this Christmas

While AMD’s Ryzen chips have made big dents in Intel’s desktop CPU dominance, Team Blue is still large and in charge where laptop chips are concerned. The firm will be looking to tighten that grip even harder with its 10th-gen Core processors, which have finally been fully revealed and specced. Here’s the full list:

U Series:

  • Intel Core i7-1068G7- 2.3GHz-4.1GHz, 4-core/8-thread, Intel Iris Plus Graphics
  • Intel Core i7-1065G7 – 1.3GHz-3.9GHz, 4-core/8-thread, Intel Iris Plus Graphics
  • Intel Core i5-1035G7 – 1.2GHz-3.7GHz, 4-core/8-thread, Intel Iris Plus Graphics
  • Intel Core i5-1035G4 – 1.1GHz-3.7GHz, 4-core/8-thread, Intel Iris Plus Graphics
  • Intel Core i3-1035G1 – 1GHz-3.6GHz, 4-core/8-thread, Intel UHD Graphics
  • Intel Core i3-1005G1 – 1.2GHz-3.4GHz, 2-core/4-thread, Intel UHD Graphics

Y Series:

  • Intel Core i7-1060G7- 1GHz-3.8GHz, 4-core/8-thread, Intel Iris Plus Graphics
  • Intel Core i5-1030G7- 800MHz-3.5GHz, 4-core/8-thread, Intel Iris Plus Graphics
  • Intel Core i5-1030G4- 700MHz-3.5GHz, 4-core/8-thread, Intel Iris Plus Graphics
  • Intel Core i3-1000G4- 1.1GHz-3.2GHz, 2-core/4-thread, Intel Iris Plus Graphics
  • Intel Core i3-1000G1 – 1.1GHz-3.2GHz, 2-core/4-thread, Intel UHD Graphics

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Codenamed Ice Lake, these chips use Intel’s 10nm+ manufacturing process and succeed the 9th-gen “Coffee Lake H refresh” family – although by coming in both the mainstream U series and the lower-power Y series they seem to be more in line with the 8th-gen range. For instance, the top 10th-gen part – the Core i7-1068G7 – is a quad-core, eight-threaded chip like the 8th-gen Core i7-8565U. Interestingly, though, the maximum Turbo Boost speed has dropped from 4.6GHz to 4.1GHz, while base clock speed has risen from 1.8GHz to 2.3GHz.

It will be interesting to see whether this approach produces significantly faster speeds overall, especially in heavily multithreaded tasks where high boost speeds don’t come into play as much.

The 10nm chips will also likely benefit from their new Sunny Cove architecture, which speeds things up even more with larger L1 and L2 cache sizes and an AI-powered controller that supposedly manages workloads more effectively than previous architectures.

Core performance is only a partial concern for Ice Lake, however. Completely reworked Intel Iris Plus Graphics promise the “best integrated graphics in the industry”, with Fortnite and Dirt Rally 2.0 both namedropped as games that will run playably at 1080p.

Intel has certainly been paying a lot more attention to graphics recently; its Xe project will demonstrate the company’s first dedicated graphics cards in two decades, and the most recent Intel NUC kits include arch-rival AMD’s Vega graphics hardware. Significantly beefing up the gaming and video production capabilities of Iris Plus is a logical next step.

Four of the six U-series CPUs and four of the five Y-series CPUs will include Iris Plus graphics, while the remaining lower-end chips will stick with Intel UHD Graphics, which Intel says will perform closer to its current integrated graphics.

Connectivity will also be a focus. Native Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) support is included, but Intel has also come up with its own take called  Wi-Fi 6 Gig+: this supports 160MHz channels and not just 80MHz channels like regular Wi-Fi 6. Thunderbolt 3 support is also fully integrated with the CPU for the first time, so we could be seeing laptops with this versatile port in far greater numbers.

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There’s a lot of exciting changes here; the potential to play AAA games on properly thin-and-light ultraportables, with no dedicated GPUs thickening up the chassis, is particularly enticing. At the same time, there were some notable omissions from Intel’s announcement. Ice Lake’s effect on battery life is still unclear, for example: the revealed TDP figures range from just 9W on the Y series to 25W on the Core i7-1068G7, which all sounds nice and efficient, but base clock increases and souped-up graphics will undoubtedly take a toll.

None of the announced parts could also be described as direct replacements to any 9th-gen parts, a shame as these have powered some of the best high-performance laptops of recent months. Then again, such replacements could be being saved for another big launch partway through the 10th-gen’s lifespan, just as Coffee Lake H Refresh arrived a few months after Coffee Lake proper.

In any case, we’ll have to wait a bit to see how Ice Lake shapes up. The first laptops containing 10th-gen chips are expected to be revealed at IFA in Berlin in September, before going on sale in “the holidays” – the run-up to Christmas, in other words.

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