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4 Big Changes Coming To Next-Gen Intel CPUs

From hybrid architectures to new design methodologies, the changes have already started to impact some Intel CPUs, and they will have an even greater effect in a few years.

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New Hybrid CPU Approach Employs Different Kinds Of Cores

Intel has started to design so-called hybrid processors that feature different kinds of cores to optimize performance and efficiency, a change from standard processors that feature only type of core.

This began with last year’s launch of Lakefield, a hybrid processor for foldable and dual-screen PCs and other ultra-light form factors. Lakefield consists of two variants—the Intel Core i5-L16G7 and Intel Core i3-L13G4—and each comes with one Sunny Cove core for high-performance applications and four Tremont cores for low-power background applications.

These two core types are made with different manufacturing processes. The Sunny Cove core, which also serves as the basis for Intel’s Ice Lake CPU for laptops and servers, is made using Intel’s 10-nanometer process. Tremont, on the other hand, is based on 14nm and also serves as the foundation for the company’s latest Atom, Celeron and Pentium CPUs.

Intel plans to continue this hybrid core approach with Alder Lake, the code name for the company’s 12th-generation Core processors for PCs that are set to come out in the second half of 2021.

Alder Lake will rely on the successors to the Sunny Cove and Tremont cores—Golden Cove for high performance and Gracemont for low power, respectively—to optimize performance-per-watt.

Raja Koduri, Intel’s chief architect and leader of the Architecture, Graphics and Software Group, said last year that Intel is working on a next-generation hardware-guided schedular that will optimize Alder Lake to squeeze every ounce of performance out of each core. Beyond delivering great performance, Alder Lake will also be Intel’s “best performance-per-watt architecture,” he added.

“While Lakefield was tuned for battery life, in Alder Lake, we have advanced the hybrid architectures significantly with a focus on performance,” he said.

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