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There is an old saying which stated imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. A few years ago when Apple launched its Apple Silicon, Intel responded by saying that Apple is a “lifestyle brand and we have to be that good.”. What difference 3 years has made. Apple introduced Intel Core Ultra, which is based on their latest architecture core codenamed Meteor Lake and from their presentation, it seems it was a major shift from Intel in how they do things. From an outsider’s point of view, Intel basically copied Apple’s homework and added some flair of its own. Read on to find out more.
Background: What’s in the name?
Back in September 2023, Intel updated its naming convention. From Intel Core Nth Generation i
Intel says that it investing $3.5 billion in New Mexico and $7 billion in Penang, Malaysia to ramp up capacity for Meteor Lake and other chips for the next 10 years.
The upcoming Intel processor is codenamed Meteor Lake which would be the 14th generation Core processor. But as the presentation goes, this is a very new processor in which Intel rewrote their playbook because they finally admitted what others have been saying: their competitors not only are catching up but in some ways, ahead of Intel.
Here are the first for this upcoming Intel processor:-
- First chiplet design: For the history of Intel, their processor comes with a single monolith block that does everything it needs to be done. This is the first Intel processor that they stitch together a few chiplets to form a bigger chip
- Tiles concept: There are 4 main “tiles” for the new processor: The graphics, IO (Input/Output), Compute, and Media Tiles. Just like the Apple Silicon, each tile has a specialized function.
- First Intel 4: The Compute tile is built on Intel’s latest manufacturing process, called Intel 4. Just like other industry players, Intel has abandoned naming its manufacturing process to the side of the transistor feature.
- Built by
competitorspartners: Intel usually spends billions of dollars to build fab factories around the world and build everything in-house. To show how things change, TSMC is building the Graphics, IO, and Media tiles. Not only that, each tile is built from different manufacturing processes and stitched together to make it work.
- First SOC Tile: The SOC Tile is basically how Apple and Qualcomm would design their chips: a combination of different engines in a single place. Intel has dedicated engines for different jobs.
- First NPU: Just as Apple would have Neural Engine on their phones and computers, Intel has their first NPU (Neural Processing Unit) that is designed to handle AI computing workloads.
- Three levels of CPUs: There is a low-power E-core CPU in the Media Tile. Apps are run here first and if it’s not contained there it will moved to the next level which are E-core CPUs in the Compute Tile. And finally, if the E-core is no match for the demand of the app it will go to the P-core. Of course, through Thread Director, programmers can direct the app to use the P-cores straight away for known heavy tasks like gaming.
- Ring fabric: Just like Apple Silicon design, there is a concept of shared memory between the tiles. This makes the processor do things more efficiently.
- 8 Xe graphic cores: After ignoring graphics for each to the chargin’ of Apple, Intel finally is focused more deeply than ever in the graphics department. Intel claimed that the new graphic cores are twice the performance of the 12th generation Intel Core. Will the Intel Xe graphic cores be good enough for casual users and light games alike? Time will tell.
Around 15 to 20 years ago, Intel was the king of the hill. It basically cornered the PC market, its competitor couldn’t produce a decent chip and was in danger of being bankrupt. Then the smartphone revolution happened and Intel missed the boat. Competitors like AMD and Apple come roaring back and Nvidia corners the graphics market. TSMC builds everything and Intel is trying to find it’s footing.
A crisis like this is not new for Intel, and if history teaches anything, crises like these are what make Intel thrive. Time and time again, when Intel seems to be left behind, Intel managed to reinvent itself and come out with new exciting products and be the king of the hill again. The real winners of these boom-bust cycles are us, the consumers, where we again witness the constant revolution of the computing age.
Meteor Lake is scheduled to be released on 14th December. Stay tuned for the latest news.
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