June 22, 2024

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Intel is providing details on its new Lunar Lake CPUs that will compete with AMD, Qualcomm, and Apple

Intel is providing details on its new Lunar Lake CPUs that will compete with AMD, Qualcomm, and Apple
Zoom in / A high-level analysis of Intel’s next-generation Lunar Lake chips, which maintain some Meteor Lake changes while rolling back others.

Intel Corporation

Given recent manufacturing issues, AMD’s resurgence, Qualcomm’s incursion, and Apple’s shift from customer to competitor, it’s been a tough few years for Intel processors. PC buyers have more viable choices than they have in many years, and in many ways the company’s Meteor Lake architecture was more interesting as a technical achievement than it was as an upgrade to the previous generation of Raptor Lake processors.

But despite all that, Intel still supplies the vast majority of PC CPUs — nearly four-fifths of all PC CPUs sold are made by Intel, according to Latest analyst estimates from Canalys. The company still casts a long shadow, and what it does still helps set the pace for the rest of the industry.

Enter the next generation CPU architecture, codenamed Lunar Lake. We’ve known about Lunar Lake for a while, and Intel reminded everyone it was coming when Qualcomm teased it during Microsoft’s Copilot+ PC reveal, but this month at Computex the company will go into more detail before it’s available sometime in Q3 2024.

Lunar Lake will be the first Intel processor with a neural processing unit (NPU) that meets Microsoft Copilot+ PC requirements. But looking beyond the endless stream of AI news, it also includes upgraded architectures for the P-core and E-core cores, a next-generation GPU architecture, and some packaging changes that simultaneously build on many of the exciting changes Intel has made from Defer it and reflect it. Meteor Lake.

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Intel didn’t have more information to share about Arrow Lake, the architecture that will bring big Meteor Lake changes to desktop motherboards for the first time. But Intel says Arrow Lake is still on track for a Q4 2024 release, and it is It can be announced In Intel Annual innovation event In late September.

Based on Meteor Lake

Lunar Lake continues to use a mix of P cores and E cores, allowing the chip to handle a mix of low-intensity and high-performance workloads without using too much power.
Zoom in / Lunar Lake continues to use a mix of P cores and E cores, allowing the chip to handle a mix of low-intensity and high-performance workloads without using too much power.

Intel Corporation

Lunar Lake shares some things in common with Meteor Lake, including a microchip-based design that combines multiple silicon dies into one large die with Intel’s Foveros packaging technology. But in some ways, Lunar Lake is simpler and less exotic than Meteor Lake, with fewer small slides and a more traditional design.

Meteor Lake’s components are distributed across four boxes: a compute box dedicated primarily to the CPU cores, a graphics box made by TSMC for GPU display hardware, an IO box to handle things like PCI Express and Thunderbolt connectivity, and a Tile Grab “SoC” case with two cores. Additional CPU, media encoding and decoding engine, display connection, and NPU.

The Lunar Lake only has two functional pieces, plus a small “filler tile” that seems to exist only so that the Lunar Lake silicone mold can be a perfect rectangle once it’s put together. The computing board combines all the P-cores and E-cores of the processor, GPU, NPU, display outputs, and media encoding and decoding engine. The platform’s controller tiles handle wired and wireless connectivity, including PCIe, USB, Thunderbolt 4, Wi-Fi 7, and Bluetooth 5.4.

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This is basically the same dichotomy that Intel has used for laptop chipsets for years and years: one chipset dies and the CPU, GPU, and everything else dies. The point now is that these two chips are part of the same silicon die, rather than separate dies on the same processor package. Looking back, it seems that some of the most notable differences in Meteor Lake’s design — splitting up GPU-related functions between different tiles, and having additional CPU cores within the SoC chip — were things Intel had to do to get around the fact that another thing the company was making It actually manufactures most of the graphics processing units. Given the opportunity, Intel returned to a more recognizable set of components.

Intel is switching to integrated RAM in Meteor Lake, something Apple also uses in its M-series chips.
Zoom in / Intel is switching to integrated RAM in Meteor Lake, something Apple also uses in its M-series chips.

Intel Corporation

Another big change in packaging is that Intel is integrating RAM into the Lunar Lake CPU package, rather than installing it separately on the motherboard. Intel says this uses 40 percent less power, because it shortens the distance the data needs to travel. It also saves motherboard space, which can either be used for other components, to make systems smaller, or to provide more battery space. Apple also uses on-package memory for its M series chips.

Intel says Lunar Lake chips can include up to 32GB of LPDDR5x memory. The downside is that this on-package memory precludes the use of discrete compression-connected memory modules, which combine many of the benefits of traditional upgradable DIMMs and soldered laptop memory.

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