Intel’s all-new processors are finally here - paving the way for even more efficient laptops and 2-in-1s. As before, these will be known as Core i3, i5, i7 and i9.
There are 11 new mobile parts that you can expect to start appearing inside devices soon.
The new product line comes after numerous false starts and rumours that Intel had trashed its work on the redesigned processors altogether,
What's new about the 10th generation Core processors?
The microarchitecture the new Core chips are based on is codenamed Ice Lake. It promises around an 18 percent increase in performance alongside Wi-Fi 6 support and Thunderbolt 3 for fast data transfer. Indeed, Ice Lake will be the first processors to natively integrate Thunderbolt.
Coincidentally, Thunderbolt 3 will also be part of the new USB 4.0 standard.
Intel is introducing a new processor number naming structure with these chips. The Core i5 1030 G7, for example, is - left to right - a Core i5 from the 10th generation. The 30 refers to the processor model and the G7 to the level of graphics.
However, Intel likes to be confusing and the new names don't include a reference to whether the chip is from the U or Y series - U are the low power parts, while Y series chips are even lower-power chips for very slim and light devices.
The aforementioned Core i5 1030 G7 (Y-Series) chip is probably the sweet spot in terms of the highest U-Series performance without opting for the expensive Core i7. It also features the top-level G7 graphics.
There is also on-board Intel Iris Plus graphics based on Intel's brand new Gen11 graphics platform (more on that shortly). This offers a doubling in encoding speed and faster gaming using on-board graphics.
Intel says you'll get a doubling in frame rate at 1080p over a system using an 8th generation Core chip from last year.
Intel adds that the new chips have vastly improved performance for artificial intelligence applications of around 2.5 times. That's the speed at which the chip can process things such as images for facial recognition.
When will we get Ice Lake laptops and desktops?
We'd also expect Microsoft's new Surface devices - due in October - to be using the platform, too.
Dell's Sam Burd came on stage at CES 2019 with Intel and show off an Ice Lake-powered XPS prototype that looked very much like a Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 - this new revised model was formally announced at Computex 2019.
Also announced at Computex were other Project Athena devices like the HP Envy 13, Lenovo S940 and Acer Swift 5. Project Athena is basically Intel's attempt at making a new Ultrabook standard for thin and light PCs.
What's special about the new Gen11 graphics?
They're more powerful, in a couple of words. They promise up to a teraflop of GPU compute power at the high end, so they should enable easier content creation on laptops that don't have discrete graphics - thin-and-light laptops, in other words.
Gen11 also supports variable-rate shading - a first for integrated graphics. Again, this means that thinner devices will be better for gaming than previously. The proof, as always, is in the benchmarks.
What's the story behind Ice Lake?
The initial announcement of the new chips at Computex 2019 didn't take away from the fact these new chips are later than a pizza driver that stops off for a sleep; they were originally slated for 2015.
It seems Intel’s engineers have had to go back to the drawing board because of a problematic approach - we’re guessing that meant there was a high error rate or poor yield on chips produced using the 10nm process.
Speaking at an Intel Architecture Day conference in Silicon Valley in December 2018, Intel's Ronak Singhal previewed the Sunny Cove CPU core that will be the key part of the Ice Lake platform.
Why Ice Lake is so important for Intel
The new chips can’t come soon enough for Intel: AMD’s Ryzen processors are reportedly making inroads into the admittedly-small PC builder market.
Intel needs to double down on the PC market again since its latest foray into mobile ended in disaster.
After Apple hooked back up with Qualcomm, Intel decided to stop development work on producing 5G modems for smartphones – we had expected an Intel 5G modem to be a key component for the 5G iPhone in 2020 (probably known as the iPhone XI S if current naming conventions continue).
Indeed, Intel has now reached an agreement with Apple to sell its modem business to Apple in order for the latter to work on developing its own modems for smartphones.
It's a crucial time for Intel despite its deep expertise in transistor density – rivals TSMC and Samsung have both started producing 7nm mobile processors this year and will turn their attention to producing 7nm processors for bigger devices. AMD’s Zen 2 architecture - also announced at Computex - uses 7nm.
Last year Intel also talked about Foveros, a new tech to package processors that means more complex processor dies can be stacked upon one another rather than having to be placed side-by-side. This could enable totally new device designs that are even thinner and lighter.