Intel promises big PC speed boost with Tiger Lake chips this fall

Raja Koduri, Intel’s normal supervisor of structure, graphics and software program, exhibits off a next-generation Xe graphics chip.


For those who want a brand new laptop computer, you would possibly wish to maintain off till later this yr when Intel’s latest chips can be found. The Tiger Lake chips promise sooner speeds, higher graphics and longer battery life. 

Formally known as Intel’s 11th technology Core processor, the chips will create extra practical explosions in Call of Duty and permit for longer PowerPoint slide decks earlier than a PC’s battery drains. Intel showcased the Tiger Lake line earlier this week at its Structure Day, together with a spread of the chipmaker’s different engineering feats. 

Intel has lots using on Tiger Lake, the corporate’s first main new chip design since final yr. The Santa Clara, California, chip titan has struggled over the previous a number of years. Apple has begun ejecting Intel chips from Macs whereas Microsoft has embraced rivals like AMD and Qualcomm. Intel stumbled years late to its present chipmaking course of and introduced one other major delay in July for its next-generation manufacturing process.

At Structure Day, Tiger Lake shared heart stage with Intel’s new Xe graphics chip know-how that’ll velocity up primary graphics and high-end gaming. Intel would not share particular velocity enhance figures for Tiger Lake or Xe, one variation of which shall be constructed straight into Tiger Lake. However a chart exhibiting efficiency boosts set a brand new tone for discussions of Intel’s merchandise and prospects.

Tiger Lake velocity enhance

Intel’s efficiency charts confirmed Tiger Lake outpacing today’s Ice Lake predecessors by a mixture of enhancements, together with a brand new core chip design known as Willow Cove and an up to date manufacturing course of now known as SuperFin.

The Willow Cove core at the heart of Intel's Tiger Lake chips can run either faster or more efficiently than the Sunny Cove cores in today's Ice Lake chips.

The Willow Cove core on the coronary heart of Intel’s Tiger Lake chips can run both sooner or extra effectively than the Sunny Cove cores in as we speak’s Ice Lake chips.


“I really feel higher about its future,” Patrick Moorhead, analyst at Moor Insights and Research, stated of the chip big. With regards to chip structure, Intel gave the world causes to imagine that “it may very well be again on high.”

Tiger Lake chips will give PC makers the choice of a chip that is sooner at a given stage of energy consumption or that has higher battery life for a given velocity, stated Boyd Phelps, Intel’s vice president of silicon engineering. For probably the most demanding duties like gaming, the place energy consumption typically is not a giant constraint, Intel can also crank up Tiger Lake’s clock velocity even increased.

Different Tiger Lake talents

Tiger Lake could have built-in Thunderbolt 4 and USB 4 assist for plugging quick peripherals into your PC, new security protection called CET (control-flow enforcement know-how), higher AI circuitry for voice management and speech-to-text conversion, and assist for extra and higher-resolution shows.

In 2021, Intel plans to launch a successor known as Alder Lake that makes use of a hybrid strategy that marries two sorts of processing cores. These cores are Golden Cove, a extra highly effective successor to Tiger Lake’s Willow Cove, and Gracemont, a smaller design that is optimized for decrease energy consumption.

The Alder Lake chips shall be constructed with an enchancment on SuperFin manufacturing course of with the placeholder Enhanced SuperFin. That ought to deliver one other velocity enhance in 2021.

Higher graphics with Xe

An enormous a part of Tiger Lake’s velocity enhance comes from higher graphics delivered by Intel’s Xe design. For years, Intel constructed primary graphics talents into its chips, however severe avid gamers and others who wanted extra graphics energy relied on separate graphics chips from Nvidia or AMD.

For next-gen PCs, Xe shall be constructed into Tiger Lake, nevertheless it’s a lot sooner than earlier built-in graphics, judging by sport demos that ran at a lot increased body charges than on as we speak’s Ice Lake chips. Intel will supply a wide range of Xe graphics chips separate from Tiger Lake, together with the DG1 delivery this yr and a newly introduced high-performance variant for avid gamers due in 2021. That mannequin will embrace options like ray tracing that Nvidia pioneered for the gaming market.

“It is positively a severe competitor for AMD and Nvidia,” stated Tirias Research analyst Kevin Krewell.

Combine and Match

Making the tiny on-off switches known as transistors is vital to chipmaking, however there are many areas the place engineering will pay dividends. For instance, Intel credit enhancements within the metallic knowledge pathways instantly above the transistors for a few of Tiger Lake velocity enhancements.

Intel is moving toward a variety of chip packaging techniques designed to let it mix and match different components to rapidly tailor chips to particular uses.

Intel is shifting towards a wide range of chip packaging methods designed to let it combine and match totally different elements to quickly tailor chips to specific makes use of.


Intel additionally touted its talents in chip packaging, a fast-developing and really aggressive know-how that lets processor makers hyperlink two silicon chips aspect by aspect or on high of one another. Excessive-speed knowledge hyperlinks allow them to act as a single entity, and Intel’s bought new enhancements to these knowledge hyperlinks.

The corporate’s Lakefield chip embodies this know-how, letting Intel cram reminiscence, knowledge input-output, processing and different capabilities right into a single bundle. However Intel will unfold the concept to different chips because it improves. The Foveros technology used to stack Lakefield’s elements presently presents as much as 1,600 knowledge hyperlinks per sq. millimeter, a density that is anticipated to extend to 10,000, although Intel did not say when.

Intel’s manufacturing woes

Intel is switching up its manufacturing course of with merchandise past Tiger Lake. Intel reported $5 billion in revenue on $20 billion in income for its most recent quarter, nevertheless it’s been held again by inflexible growth and manufacturing.

Earlier than, chip designs had been married to the manufacturing course of, a “tick-tock” cycle that improved the chip’s structure one yr then shrunk its elements the subsequent. Now, Intel is shifting to a “transistor resilient design” that is now not tied to a specific manufacturing course of.

That can present extra flexibility, together with a greater potential to outsource manufacturing to rival chip foundries like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. (TSMC).

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Stephen Shankland