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Intel’s Sunny Cove Sits on an Icy Lake

February 5, 2019

Author: David Kanter

The heart of Intel’s forthcoming 10nm Ice Lake family, the Sunny Cove CPU boasts nine specialized ISA extensions and greater per-core performance with up to 33% more cache bandwidth. The 10nm technology will also reduce power for the new microarchitecture.

The new ISA extensions round out AVX-512 by promoting various instructions and by adding several security-focused instructions. In addition, the company expanded the virtual and physical address space and enabled comprehensive memory encryption, a huge boon for server processors. The extra transistor budget from the 10nm process allows the CPU to implement a larger out-of-order window, additional integer and vector execution units, and a second store pipeline.

The multiyear 10nm delays mean Sunny Cove will be Intel’s first new big core with out-of-order capability in four years. The company has maintained its leadership without major microarchitecture changes largely thanks to heroic optimization of the 14nm node. But transistor optimizations in an existing process can only achieve so much. The perceived lack of innovation may be a problem for the PC market, even as Intel’s first major competition arrives in 2019 when AMD begins shipping CPUs on 7nm TSMC technology.

Against that backdrop, Sunny Cove can’t come soon enough. It will enable new processors that can reinvigorate PCs and satisfy demanding data-center customers, but Intel’s product groups and manufacturing must deliver on these promises. Although the first Sunny Cove–based chips are slated for production in 4Q19, rolling the new CPU into all of the company’s numerous products will last well into 2020.

Subscribers can view the full article in the Microprocessor Report.

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