Intel at CES 2020: 10nm++ Tiger Lake, Comet Lake-H, and an Upgradeable NUC on Tap


It’s CES 2020 and Intel is busy talking about its product lines for this year and beyond. We’ve got some updates for you on a variety of products. First up — Comet Lake-H, the high-end version of Comet Lake with support for CPUs drawing up to 45W.

According to John Burek at our sister site PCMag, Intel will offer a larger selection of 8C/16T CPUs with Comet Lake-H. Currently, Intel offers one CPU that hits a 5GHz boost clock with 8 CPU cores — the Core i9-9980HK. PCMag reports that the Core i7 H series will be capable of boosting to 5GHz, while the i9 variants will boost even higher. This is a bit of a surprise, given that no Intel desktop chip has pushed above 5GHz for boost clocks yet.

Intel didn’t give any details on what the CPU boost frequencies would be for multiple cores or which GPU solution would ship with the 45W CPUs. While we don’t expect to see Ice Lake’s GPU shipping on 14nm silicon, it’s possible that Intel has equipped these chips with Iris Plus graphics rather than the typical UHD 630 solution it shipped with 9th Gen.

NUC’s Go Upgradeable

Intel’s NUC’s have evolved from lightweight systems akin to a Mac Mini towards something considerably more flexible and powerful. The joint AMD – Intel effort for Hades Canyon produced a unique product: Intel CPU, AMD GPU, and the only integrated graphics solution that could ever claim to offer low-to-midrange dGPU performance with a straight face. With its new NUC, Ghost Canyon, Intel has made NUCs upgradeable for the first time. Ghost Canyon can be equipped with a 45W CPU peaking over 5GHz (likely one of the Comet Lake H chips we just discussed), contains its own power supply rather than relying on a separate unit like previous NUCs, and comes in a larger, 5L chassis:

Image by PCMag

The case is only large enough for a small graphics card, but this might not be a significant problem. Short GPUs like the Radeon Nano have become more popular, and multiple manufacturers now offer smaller card variants. Without knowing precise dimensions we can’t check to see how tight the requirements are, but we’d expect something along the lines of at least a 1650 Super and possibly a 1660 Ti to fit inside a case like this. More powerful cards aren’t out of the question depending on just how much room Intel provides within the chassis. This NUC is expected to be the first to support Intel’s Compute Element concept, which is intended to provide support for easier CPU upgrades by putting the CPU, chipset, and memory on the same module, which can then be upgraded.

Early Details on Tiger Lake

Intel-Investor-Roadmap

Finally, there’s Tiger Lake, Intel’s upcoming CPU built on the 10nm++ process and expected later in 2020. Intel has talked about Tiger Lake as a successor to Ice Lake in mobile and the CPU is believed to use the Willow Cove architecture. Intel has confirmed that TGL will use Xe graphics for its integrated GPU and that the platform will offer 3 “AI engines” for superior performance. More details on Tiger Lake are expected at CES this week. It’s not clear when we’ll see 10nm CPUs for desktop; the Tiger Lake parts we’ve heard about thus far are supposed to be quad cores, but Intel may simply be launching on mobile first before bringing the architecture into other segments.

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