Intel 10th-Gen Core Comet Lake Brings Six Cores To Ultrathin Laptops

The new processors provide up to 16 percent overall performance gains compared with last year's eighth-generation Intel Core i7-8565U mobile processor, says Intel executive Ran Senderovitz. For productivity applications and multitasking, they provide up to a 41 percent improvement.


After launching its Ice Lake mobile processors earlier this month, Intel is releasing another set of 10th-generation Core processors, code-named Comet Lake, which will target multithreaded and productivity workloads with up to six cores and 4.9GHz turbo speeds for ultrathin laptops.

The chipmaker's eight new processors are shipping in more than 90 designs for consumer laptops for the holiday season, Intel said Wednesday. But according to Ran Senderovitz, Intel's vice president of mobile platform marketing, the company will follow up with a commercial variant of Comet Lake for the company's vPro IT management platform in the first half of next year.

[Related: Forrester: Intel vPro Can Give Businesses 155 Percent ROI In 3 Years]

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Some of the new laptops running on Comet Lake will be part of Intel's Project Athena, an innovation program designed to help OEMs optimize ultrathin laptops for performance and other features.

In a recent briefing, Senderovitz said the processors provide up to 16 percent overall performance gains compared with last year's eighth-generation Intel Core i7-8565U mobile processor. For productivity applications and multitasking, they provide up to a 41 percent improvement.

"The fun part is we're doing it without compromising on battery life and the performance you get on battery life," he said.

When it comes to five-year-old laptops, the improvements are even more drastic, according to Senderovitz. Compared with the fifth-generation Intel Core i7-5550U, the new processors provide up to a twofold improvement in overall performance as well as productivity performance.

"There's no better time to refresh [laptops] due to huge performance gains," he said.

It's this focus on multithreaded and productivity workloads that differentiates Comet Lake from Ice Lake, Intel's other set of 10th-generation Core processors, which have been architected for next-generation artificial intelligence software and high-fidelity graphics, according to Senderovitz.

This means while the Ice Lake processors feature the company's new Intel Iris Plus Graphics technology, Comet Lake processors will not feature a major improvement in integrated graphics.

In addition, unlike Ice Lake, which is based on Intel's 10-nanometer process technology, Comet Lake is based on a highly optimized version of the semiconductor giant's 14-nanometer process that was first introduced with its Broadwell processors in 2014.

Senderovitz said customers ultimately care about performance, not transistor density, which is why it's important that Intel has been able to deliver major performance gains over the life of the company's 14-nanometer process. This is evidenced by Comet Lake's improvements over the Intel Core i7-5550U, which was among the first 14-nanometer processors released by the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company.

Comet Lake Specs: Up To Six Cores, 4.9GHz With 15w TDP

The new Comet Lake processors are split between the Y-Series, which denotes low-power CPUs designed for fanless laptops, and the U-Series, which denotes high-performance for ultrathin laptops. All of the Y-series processors come in a 7-watt power envelope, which OEMs can configure up to 9 watts and down to 4.5 or 5.5 watts. The U-Series comes in a 15-watt envelope, which can go up to 25 watts.

Comet Lake is headlined by the Intel Core i7 10710U, which comes with six cores, 12 threads, a 1.1GHz base frequency, a 4.7 single-core turbo frequency and a 3.9GHz all-core turbo frequency. Meanwhile, the next U-Series processor, the Core i7-10510U, provides higher clock speeds with a 1.8GHz base, a 4.9GHz single-core turbo and a 4.3GHz all-core turbo while only coming with four cores. The lowest U-series SKU comes with only two cores but a higher base frequency.

As for the Y-Series, the top SKU, the Intel Core i7-10510Y, comes with four cores, eight threads, a 1.2GHz base frequency, a 4.5 single-core turbo frequency and a 3.2GHz all-core turbo frequency. The three other processors come with four or two cores and lower frequencies, with the exception of the Intel Core i3-10110Y, which has a 3.7GHz all-core turbo frequency.

Like the Ice Lake processors, Comet Lake comes with support for Intel's Wi-Fi 6 and Thunderbolt 3 connectivity technologies. They are also optimized for the Intel Adaptix Technology, which allows OEMs to dynamically tune the performance and power of the processors.

The Comet Lake U-Series processors also support LPDDR4X 2933, LPDDR3 2133 and DDR4 2666 memory while the Y-Series only supports LPDDR3 2133 memory. In addition, the processors support the new Intel Optane memory H10 solid state storage product.

New Numbering Scheme For 10th-Generation Core Processors

With Intel's 10th-generation Core processors, the company is introducing two different sets of processors— Comet Lake and Ice Lake—based on two different architectures. As a result, consumers may have difficulty understanding the differences between the two, Senderovitz said.

"We know that may be confusing to the consumer," he said.

That's why Intel is hoping the company's new numbering scheme for the 10th-generation Core processors will help consumers sort out which products are right for them, Senderovitz said.

For instance, 10th-generation Core processors with a G suffix indicates that they are based on Intel's 10-nanometer Ice Lake architecture and feature next-generation Iris Graphics Plus. On the other hand, a U or Y suffix indicates that the products are based on the 14-nanometer Comet Lake architecture.

New Ultrathin Laptops Arriving As Employees Seek More Mobility

David Felton, founder of Canaan Technology, a Norwalk, Conn.-based solution provider, said he's seeing an uptick in laptop sales with his customers as their employees seek to become more mobile, working from home or working on the go.

"They only come into the office two or three days of the week, so we give them remote access," he said.

These customers are typically requesting thin and lightweight laptops with long battery life, according to Felton, but they don't necessarily care about the "speeds and feeds" of the processor. However, the executive said he provides the fastest laptops available by default.

"Our clients don’t think to ask for speed, but as a policy we do not sell the [Intel Core i3] so we always lead with an i7 and offer i5 as a slightly less expensive version," he said.

Whenever a new line of laptops come out, it can help accelerate or reopen conversations with customers who have been holding off on making a purchase, according to Felton.

"We reach out to clients we're talking with to tell them if it's typically worth waiting for next generation. We also reach out to clients who are on the fence, and we will use the new generation of laptops to open communication," Felton said.