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Cannon Lake Misfires

June 12, 2018

Author: Linley Gwennap

Intel wanted to ship a 10nm product really badly, and that’s what it finally did. With no formal announcement, a single Cannon Lake processor appeared on the company’s website, and its specifications show just how badly the 10nm technology is performing. Despite the more advanced process, the new Core i3-8121U offers the same base clock as the 14nm Core i3-8130U (Kaby Lake) and a lower maximum speed. Worse yet, its integrated graphics unit is apparently nonfunctional, as the company has disabled it. The chip also missed its original TDP target.

The 8121U is a dual-core product, fitting into the bottom part of Intel’s laptop line; the Core i5 and Core i7 families have already moved to quad cores. The new chip is similar to the 8130U, offering a 2.2GHz base frequency and a 3.2GHz maximum turbo speed. The Kaby Lake part, however, peaks at 3.4GHz in Intel’s 14+ process. The company had warned that the initial 10nm transistors would be only slightly faster than 14+ transistors and slower than 14++, but the yield problems are apparently depressing clock speeds.

The missing GPU makes the new processor far inferior to the 8130U. The only known system using the 8121U is the Lenovo IdeaPad 330. This thin and light PC sells with various Intel processors, but one model with an 8121U was recently spotted for sale in Asia; this model includes an AMD Radeon chip alongside the Intel processor. Yet according to reports, the sole Cannon Lake PC is now “sold out” and no longer available.

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