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Ice Lake

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

Ice Lake is the codename for an Intel central processing unit (CPU) product generation that is on a 10 nm process. Intel’s goal for Ice Lake is to replace microprocessors based on Skylake microprocessors. The processors were announced on December 2018 and made available on August 1st, 2019. Ice Lake will be used in consumer products on mobile and desktop platforms, specifically with i3, i5 and i7 processors.

Ice Lake is the 10th generation core Intel microprocessor architecture. The architecture is set to be used in desktop and mobile versions, replacing processors based on Coffee Lake, Kirby Lake and Cannon Lake. The new processors are based off a microarchitecture called Sunny Cove that was developed by one of Intel’s teams based out of Israel.

Ice Lake focuses on improving single-thread performance, scalability and with new instruction sets.

Ice lake improvements

Intel formally adopted a tick-tock development cycle, in which they would have one generation that improved the previous generation before having another that would be a more radical improvement. The Ice lake generation brings with it new instruction sets to optimize specific workloads. Ice Lake looks to improve performance with higher instructions per clock cycle (IPC) by as much as 18%. The CPUs include greater cache on L1 by 50% over Sky Lake. The new generation of processors has had security changes made to them, which will hopefully protect against the major Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities in previous generation processors. Security in both the hardware and software has been updated to mitigate these flaws; some of these changes include a BCB/SpectreV1 patch for software, a BTI/SpectreV2I patch for hardware and software as well as an RDCL/V3/Meltdown patch for hardware.

Along with core improvements, Ice Lake also boosts the performance of integrated graphics processing units (iGPU). With greater graphics cache, iGPU clock speeds are up to 1.1 ghz. The iGPU offers a teraflop of graphical/compute power. Overall, the integrated graphics is said to increase in performance twofold. Additionally, the iGPU includes support for adaptive sync to optimize performance. This makes for a smoother, tear-free video frame delivery.

Competition to Ice Lake

Ice Lake helps Intel compete with a resurgent AMD, whose Ryzen line up has stirred consumer interest. AMD’s third-generation Ryzen is using TSMCs 7 nm process for its own 18% IPC, as well as implementing instruction improvements and per core improvements. AMD has also upped core counts, with their top-end Threadripper, offering 64 cores on a single CPU package.

This was last updated in September 2019

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