Recap of Intel’s CPU announcements at CES 2019 – 10nm Cascade Lake, Ice Lake, and Nervana AI chip

At CES 2019, Intel returned to make a slew of announcements about – you guessed it – CPUs.

Intel’s marketing message these days is that it’s no longer a PC-centric firm, but a data-centric firm. But that doesn’t mean it’s giving up on its legacy of pushing the edge on processor technology. Far from it.

Intel announced six new ninth-generation processors for desktops PCs at the show. Intel says these are designed to meet a range of end-user needs, including those of serious content creators. The first chip in this group will be out this month. The rest will start shipping in the second quarter of this year.

When it comes to “mobile PCs” – that’s what Intel calls laptops and 2-in-1 devices – there’s a new platform coming and its code-named Ice Lake. It’s a 10-nanometer chip, and it features a new graphics architecture. It integrates Thunderbolt 3 and Wi-Fi 6 standards. It also features Intel’s DL Boost feature, meant to accelerate artificial intelligence workloads.

Intel also gave us a sneak peek at its Lakefield platform. This CPU takes different components that used to be separately packaged and fits them all onto one chip. It should help laptop makers create even thinner and lighter devices. Intel is saving on space by using a special new design approach called Foveros 3D packaging technology. Instead of needing to put everything on one flat board, it can now take advantage of vertical space and stack its design.

The Ice Lake platform will also play a role in the data centre. Intel previewed a 10 nanometer Xeon processor for servers. These are expected to enhance both performance and security, but won’t be shipped until next year. For this year, Intel is releasing Xeon processors on its 14 nanometer Cascade Lake platform. This includes a processor with 48 cores, and integrates Intel’s Optane memory, as well as its deep learning boost technology. Intel showed an on-stage demo showing that the chip’s performance on an AI workload was five times better than a previous generation Xeon processor assisted by a GPU.

Finally, Intel announced a totally new processor that’s purpose-built for inference AI workloads. The Nervana Neural Network Processor is expected to go into production this year. Intel will be partnering with Facebook on developing the chip, a company that might be interested in the image-recognition applications for this chip. Also look for a Neural Network Process specifically for training models, code-named Spring Crest, released late this year. By the way, Inference-based AI is a type of deep learning that works based on recognizing rewards. It’s one type of AI that doesn’t require a huge amount of data to be useful, so many firms are interested in advancing it.

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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