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Tiger Lake Debuts 10nm SuperFin

September 8, 2020

Author: Linley Gwennap

After last year’s Ice Lake processors got a chilly reception, Intel’s new Tiger Lake design should heat up the laptop-PC market. The processor includes a new Xe GPU that delivers up to twice the performance of the previous generation, powering ahead of AMD’s integrated graphics. It also features larger caches, faster connections to DRAM, and support for up to four simultaneous displays. But what really makes Tiger Lake roar is a new version of the 10nm manufacturing process that Intel calls SuperFin.

Tiger Lake replaces two 10th Generation Core products: the 14nm Comet Lake and the 10nm Ice Lake. Although Comet Lake’s transistors are larger, they’re actually faster, allowing that design to match the clock speeds of the previous-generation laptop processors. By contrast, Ice Lake upgrades to the more powerful Sunny Cove core and Gen11 GPU, but its slow 10nm transistors limited the performance of these newer designs. Thus, most customers preferred Comet Lake unless they needed the Gen11 graphics.

Tiger Lake, marketed as the 11th Generation Core processor, offers a dramatic performance improvement over both prior-generation designs. The flagship Core i7-1185G7, for example, can clock its four cores at 3.0GHz while consuming 28W. In contrast, the fastest quad-core Comet Lake has a base clock of 2.3GHz at 25W, and Ice Lake achieves the same speed. This 30% gain relies on SuperFin’s increased power efficiency. The technology also boosts the GPU clock speed, which in combination with the new Xe architecture provides a big graphics-performance gain. Tiger Lake has already reached production in several Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 models, and the first PCs using it will ship next quarter.

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