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Comet Lake Walks Over Ice Lake

September 10, 2019

Author: Linley Gwennap

Intel has always been a tough competitor, but in an unusual twist, it now competes against itself. By introducing the first Comet Lake products only a few weeks after Ice Lake, the company now offers two overlapping sets of 10th Generation processors for its laptop customers. Comet Lake delivers a straightforward upgrade based on the same chip technologies, whereas Ice Lake combines new technologies to provide a different performance mix. Like Ice Lake, Comet Lake upgrades most of the Y-series, which targets hybrid tablet-PCs, from two to four CPUs. The new processor is Intel’s first to bring six CPU cores to the 15W U-series, which serves thin-and-light PCs; Intel already offers six and even eight cores in 45W processors for full-size laptops.

The greater core count is a boon to users who run many programs at once. For most PC users, however, fully loading six cores is difficult; Intel’s test scenario involved simultaneously exporting a PowerPoint file to video, exporting a large Word document to PDF, and updating a massive Excel spreadsheet. Realistically, most users will see a benefit only on highly threaded tasks such as photo and video editing.

Other users, or those who buy less expensive models, will see little gain over last year’s Whiskey Lake and Amber Lake. The new chip employs the same 14nm++ manufacturing technology, so clock speeds are nearly unchanged; in fact, some base frequencies drop slightly. Comet Lake features the same CPU and GPU design as the older parts and fits into the same thermal envelope. The new products add Wi-Fi 6 capability. Comet Lake PCs are already shipping from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and others.

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