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Intel 10th Gen Core Chips: What to Expect from Ice Lake

Editors' Note: Updated with additional information about 10th Core Gen laptops.

Intel unveiled its next generation of processors on May 28, showing off the 10th Gen Core chips that will power many of the new laptops coming out later this year. Code-named Ice Lake, the processors are promising big improvements to graphics as well as performance gains driven by artificial intelligence.

The 10th Gen Core processors introduce a new architecture as well as a fast Wi-Fi 6 integration. Intel is also integrating Thunderbolt 3 into the 10th Gen processors after keeping the connectivity standard discrete in previous chipsets.

Intel first previewed its Ice Lake chips at the CES trade show in January. But this week's Computex event in Taiwan is giving us our first extended look at the 10th Gen Core chips, which aim to deliver improved gaming, snappier applications and laptops that are more responsive to what you're looking to do.

What to expect from Ice Lake

Intel's 10th Gen processors will come in Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 versions with thermal designs of 9W, 15W and 28W. Intel's first chips with a 10-nanometer design, Ice Lake will feature up to four cores and eight threads and a maximum turbo frequency of up to 4.1GHz. The number of cores and threads are actually unchanged from Intel's Whiskey Lake processors, which also offers a higher maximum turbo frequency at 4.6Ghz.

Intel's new chips will offer Iris Plus graphics, capable of up to 64 EUs (execution units) as well as Intel UHD graphics.

With these 10th Gen Core processors, Intel is introducing a new Sunny Cove core architecture that delivers an 18% improvement in instructions per cycle over the previous generation of processors. Ice Lake also features a new Gen11 graphics architecture that's capable of supporting 1080p gaming and optimized for power efficiency.

Improvements Intel is promising with its Ice Lake processors include:

Better AI: Intel says it focused on beefing up 10th Gen Core's artificial intelligence features so that machines powered by the processors can be more responsive. To that end, Intel's promising a 2.5x improvement in AI performance over the previous generation of chips thanks to Deep Learning (DL) Boost dynamic tuning that can predict workloads and maximize performance.

Integrated Thunderbolt 3: As noted above, Thunderbolt connectivity is now integrated into 10th Gen Core processors. As a result, Intel has been able to conserve space, which frees up laptop makers to put Thunderbolt ports on both sides of their devices. Integrated Thunderbolt also consumes less power than before.

Integrated Wi-Fi 6: Also on the connectivity front, Intel is integrating the new wireless standard into its latest processors. Intel says its implementation, which it bills as Wi-Fi 6 Gig+, should mean a 3x improvement in wireless speeds over 802.11ac.

Better Graphics Capabilities: Iris Plus graphics and the Gen11 graphics architecture should deliver a number of improvements in Ice Lake-powered machines. According to Intel, HEVC encodes will be roughly twice as fast as the new processors. You'll also be able to watch 4K HDR video in billions of colors and play games like Fortnite on your laptop in 1080p resolution.

How Ice Lake will improve your laptop experience

So what will all that mean in terms of everyday use when you find yourself on the business end of an Ice Lake-powered laptop? We'll have to wait to test Intel's new processors for a definitive verdict, but some of the demos we've seen courtesy of Intel point to some real-world improvements.

In one demo using Microsoft's Photos app, a laptop running a pre-production version of the CPU was able to capture the metadata for 250 images 1.7 to 1.8 times faster than it took a machine running on the previous generation of Intel's processors. Even more impressively, we could then search for photos using that metadata: typing in "Vodafone," for example, instantly called up a photo of a race car festooned with a Vodafone logo.

Another demo showed off Counter-Strike: Global Offensive running on an Ice Lake-powered laptop. With Intel's Adaptive Sync turned on, graphics looked smooth and fluid without any screen tearing. Intel's Iris Plus graphics should deliver a 1.8x improvement in frames per second over an 8th Gen Core chip relying on UHD 620 graphics.

Finally, Intel showed off improved HEVC encoding on a 10th Gen Core-powered machine, which seamlessly stitched together 1 minute of 4K video on CyberLink's Power Director much more quickly than a laptop running on an 8th Gen processor. The idea, Intel says, is that you'll spend less time waiting for tasks to be carried out, whether you're a professional creator or you just want to quickly share a video with friends and family.

When you'll see Ice Lake-powered laptops

Intel says its 10th Gen Core processors are shipping now and that laptops featuring Ice Lake chips will be available in time for 2019 holiday shopping. More than 30 design featuring Ice Lake processors are coming to the market, according to Intel. That includes the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, which is set to debut this summer.

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