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Gemini Lake Targets Tiny PCs

January 2, 2018

Author: Linley Gwennap

Just in time for the new year, Intel released new PC processors for 2-in-1s (devices that combine a tablet and a keyboard) and other small Windows-based systems. Code-named Gemini Lake, the new Atom-based chips replace the older Apollo Lake models, adding a faster CPU, faster memory, and a smaller package. The first systems using the new chips should begin shipping in late 1Q18.

Gemini Lake features the Goldmont+ CPU, upgrading Apollo Lake’s Goldmont microarchitecture. According to the company, the new design improves per-clock performance (IPC) by 10–15%. The processor employs the same 14nm manufacturing process as its predecessor, so the base clock speeds remain the same; Intel offers a 200MHz boost in the maximum turbo speed, however, benefiting applications that don’t use the GPU. Some software will see additional performance gains from the 4MB shared L2 cache, which doubles the size of Apollo Lake’s. In addition, the DRAM controller now supports DDR4-2400, a big jump from the previous DDR3L-1866. All of these improvements help boost the SysMark score by 30% between the older N4200 and the new N5200.

Gemini Lake changes the GPU model number to UHD 605, but the basic graphics unit is similar, having 18 EUs running at a maximum speed of 800MHz. The new GPU adds HEVC/VP9 video decoding at 4K resolution and support for Direct3D 12_1. The new part also integrates an 802.11ac Wi-Fi baseband, although it still requires a low-cost Intel RF module to complete the solution. The company also trimmed the package size 20% to 25mm x 24mm.

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