It Just Got WORSE For Intel 10th Gen – Comet Lake Arrives
All right guys, here we are again with another Intel article. And if you thought things were going bad for Intel in the last one, hold onto that and try not to laugh too hard at what I’m about to show you now. I’ll remind you that a few weeks ago I published a quick article explaining Intel’s new Ice Lake notebook lineup and the downright confusing naming scheme that Intel gave these new CPUs. Today Intel is taking that naming scheme and doubling down on it by announcing Comet Lake, and no they’re not desktop parts but more thin and light notebook CPUs that directly compete against Ice Lake in many cases. Just let that sink in for a moment. Now even though they just announced the 10th Gen Ice Lake processors on the 10nm node, Intel is going to be launching more products that are still going to be under 10th Gen family, and get this these new CPUs are going to be using the old 14nm process.
Let’s approach this from a calmer perspective and explain what’s going on here. Now the new naming scheme might be absolutely downright ridiculous – and I’ll get to that in a little bit – but I think I might be more excited for Comet Lake than Ice Lake. It feels like Intel might be pushing the new Ice Lake processors into a niche, and that might sound weird, but I’ll get to that in just a bit. What Intel is doing here is basically using the same existing technology and creating a whole new lineup of products that are supposed to offer better performance for thin and light notebooks. So these new CPUs are going to be replacements for previous generation Whiskey Lake and Amber Lake processors, which means you’re going to be getting more cores and higher frequencies for about the same amount of power.
So what’s the difference between Comet Lake and Ice Lake? Check this out. Even though Ice Lake is based on 10nm, it actually consumes more power on average, comes with less cores, and operates at much lower frequencies. Seeing a 6-core/12-thread Comet Lake processor coming to thin and light notebooks is pretty cool, but the fact that a previous generation architecture is being brought in now seems like a bitter pill to swallow for Intel fans, doesn’t it? However, Ice Lake does come with integrated Gen11 Iris Plus graphics in some variants. While Comet Lake will still use the old Gen9 GPUs. Both natively support Wi-Fi 6 too. Ice Lake will also have integrated Thunderbolt 3.0, which is optional on Comet Lake and significantly higher speeds as well.
As for performance, it’s pretty incremental over the previous generation Whiskey Lake processors, but from what we’ve seen this is pretty much aligned with what Ice Lake will offer to when directly comparing 4-core/8-thread parts.
And that brings me to the real problem with this launch: The way how Intel is naming these new CPUs. I know that I might sound like a broken record from the last article, but if you take a look at the image above you’ll see what I’m saying. This is just freaking ridiculous. It’s like Intel needs flow charts to explain their names now, but I’ll try my best to explain it.
On both processor series the i7, i5, and i3 names will stick around. After that Ice Lake gets a four digit number showing it’s in the 10th Gen with a 10 before two numbers that show the SKU or relative performance. In this case, it’s a 65.
The final two characters show what type of 10th Gen graphics that CPU features. So in this case it will be G7, G4, and G1.
Comet Lake on the other hand is where things get a bit crazy since it has a five digit number that sort of follows current CPUs. Instead of a 7, 8, or 9, there’s a 10 in front of the product number. They are even keeping the U, N, and Y product lines. So the Comet Lake series actually makes sense, sort of.
The problem is that Comet Lake isn’t being launched into a vacuum. Remember both of these CPU families will be sold at the same time and are basically targeting the same market while having very similar product names.
Intel has given them identical branding. The only real difference is that some, but not all Ice Lake processors feature Intel Iris Plus graphics indication.
So here’s the full Comet Lake lineup. It’s pretty straight forward and there are some pretty exciting CPUs in it. You might notice all the U series lower TDP models have been increased to 15 watts from Whisky Lake’s 10 watts. I’m guessing that’s to compensate for the increased frequencies. But here’s my problem with all of this, Comet Lake is being sold as 10th Gen, but it clearly isn’t because as I mentioned earlier these are just updated Whiskey Lake notebook CPUs with more cores, higher frequencies, and Wi-Fi 6 slapped on them. They’re still on 14nm, they still use the Gen9 graphics cores, they still don’t have native Thunderbolt 3.0 support, and they’re on ancient Skylake architecture. I mean, come on.
So you might be asking why is an Intel selling these as 9000 U and Y Series since Whiskey Lake used the 8000 Series names? Wouldn’t that make more sense? Look, this isn’t about putting the well being of customers like you guys first. In fact, this whole branding BS is to help Intel’s partners sell as many notebooks as they can to make it look like they all have a brand new architecture. So yeah, I think we all should be pissed.
Now according to Intel, they’re focused on launching workload optimized platforms, which means they’ll use whatever architecture suits a product’s best case scenario and yes they’ll even reuse older designs like Comet Lake to make that happen. So what does that mean for Ice Lake? Well, it’s targeted buyers are likely the ones who want to leverage upcoming AI, deep learning algorithms, and increased graphics horsepower. That’s Intel story and they’re sticking to it. Meanwhile, the Comet Lake U and Y Series offer higher levels of productivity and multi-threaded workloads. I guess we’ll have to see how this all plays out, but I’m thinking there’s still gonna be a ton of overlap.
I’m going to wrap this up here with a bit of very honest speculation since I’m tired of these shenanigans and frustrated. I think I get what happened. It feels like Intel can’t get enough production from their 10nm process or Ice Lake isn’t performing up to their expectations. Maybe it’s a combination of both. I’m sure Intel would love a top to bottom Ice Lake lineup instead of re-launching 14nm, but that’s not what’s happening here. Instead, we get this weird transition where two different architectures are being marketed as 10th Gen. It sucks for us since we have to make sense of it for you guys and it sucks even more for buyers. Either way, this all feels like Intel’s throwing everything that they can at the wall to see what sticks.