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Elkhart Lake Has Industrial Aims

October 13, 2020

Author: Bob Wheeler

Under its edge-computing umbrella, Intel is getting more serious about the industrial market. It recently announced what it hails as its first “edge-native” products: Elkhart Lake and Tiger Lake-UP3. The latter, however, follows the company’s familiar recipe of selling embedded versions of its mainstream PC processors. Elkhart Lake finally breaks that mold, introducing embedded features that add no value in PCs. Elkhart Lake production is due in 1Q21, whereas the embedded Tiger Lake chips are already shipping.

Intel announced 12 Elkhart Lake models, including Atom, Celeron, and Pentium versions, and it classifies all for embedded applications. They’re intended for a wide variety of embedded designs that span compact fanless PCs, digital-signage systems, transportation systems, and medical equipment, as well as industrial-process control. Elkhart Lake replaces the four-year-old Atom-based Apollo Lake, delivering a big performance boost while remaining a quad-core design. The company didn’t announce PC versions that would replace the more recent Gemini Lake for entry-level notebooks and desktops.

The Atom x6000E adopts a multi­chip package, as Figure 1 shows,  com­bining a 10nm processor die and 14nm south-bridge die. Intel has copackaged the south bridge in U- and Y-series PC pro­cessors for several generations, adding some packaging cost relative to a mono­lithic design. The new Atom uses the Tremont CPU, which also appears in the Snow Ridge processor for 5G infrastructure and serves as the “little” CPU in Lakefield notebook processors. Elkhart Lake includes a Gen11 GPU but with fewer execution units (EUs) than the one in Lakefield. Compared with Apollo Lake, it implements faster DRAM and new reliability features.

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