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Intel Takes Desktop PCs to 10th Gen

May 19, 2020

Author: Linley Gwennap

For the 10th generation of its Core desktop processors, Intel extended the top of the line to 10 CPUs with a goal of delivering at least 10% better performance per year. To meet this goal across the rest of the lineup, the company unlocked HyperThreading and boosted peak clock speeds as high as 5.3GHz, although base speeds received minimal gains. These improvements better position these processors against AMD, which made a strong push into desktop PCs with its Ryzen line. But Intel remains fettered by its reliance on 14nm technology, even as AMD has shipped 7nm Ryzen chips for nearly a year.

The 31 new products represent the third tranche of products based on the Comet Lake design, following last year’s U- and Y-series low-power processors and the recent H-series for high-end notebooks. Intel will soon launch a few business-centric (VPro) models to close out the 10th generation. The company plans to launch the 11th generation later this year for notebook processors, with desktop products (based on the 14nm Rocket Lake) in 2021. The desktop market will finally move to 10nm when Alder Lake arrives, according to leaked roadmaps.

Comet Lake employs the same CPU and GPU microarchitectures as its predecessor, the aging Coffee Lake. The transistors are basically the same as well, although with another year’s experience in the fab, Intel managed to wring a bit more speed out of them. (The process is still called 14nm++, however.) These similarities left the company few options for improving performance. At the high end, moving from 8 to 10 cores fit the bill. For other models, Intel extended features such as multithreading (which it brands as HyperThreading) and higher turbo speeds across the entire lineup; the company had previously reserved multithreading only for customers willing to buy at the top of the lineup. The result is a solid upgrade, particularly for mainstream PC buyers.

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