Intel has teased Lakefield since its Architecture Day back in 2018, where it showed off the SoC for the first time.
Intel has teased Lakefield since its Architecture Day back in 2018, where it showed off the SoC for the first time. Lakefield is a unique product for Intel, given that it pairs four “little” cores based on the Tremont (Atom) microarchitecture with a single “big” core based on Sunny Cove (the same CPU core used in Ice Lake).
Intel will launch Lakefield in two SKUs: Core i5-L16G7 and the Core i3-L13G4. The i5 CPU will run at a base clock of 1.4GHz and a turbo of 3GHz, though this applies only to the single Sunny Cove CPU — multi-core turbo is limited to 1.8GHz. The i5 has 64 EUs (the same width as Ice Lake), but a much lower GPU frequency of just 500MHz; the Core i3 has 48 EUs but the same 500MHz GPU frequency. Wide and slow, rather than small and speedy, is clearly the power-saving order of the day.
TDP on these chips is 7W, with support for LPDDR4-4267, which will keep the lower-clocked Ice Lake GPU fed. Mobile Ice Lake only runs up to LPDDR4-3733, making this a further 1.14x increase.
Both the single Sunny Cove and the quad-core Tremont have access to a 4MB last-level cache, though Intel hasn’t confirmed if that’s L2 or L3. Lakefield uses Foveros, Intel’s 3D interconnect technology, to tie the entire core together and connect the different CPU cores. According to Intel, workload shifting is handled by the OS but guided by data from the underlying hardware. Exact details on how this hand-off occurs or when the OS knows to spin up the Sunny Cove core versus the Tremont cores are still unknown. We do know that Lakefield is expected to rely mostly on its Tremont cores; the Sunny Cove CPU core is there for UI latency and user interactions.
AVX-512 does not appear to be supported in Sunny Cove, which may be a good thing in the context of attempting to keep to a 7W power consumption window. AI workloads are presumably run on either the CPU or GPU, but there’s no specialized co-processor to handle them.
It’s not clear yet what we should expect from Lakefield or how well it will distinguish itself from existing low-power Intel products. The company has struggled to differentiate on power consumption before; Core M didn’t create a very clear identity for itself before being largely subsumed back into Intel’s existing product lineup.
Lakefield uses something more akin to Nvidia’s old “Companion Core” idea for Tegra, only in reverse — rather than having a single low-power core for light workloads, Intel has a single high-power core to handle the heavy lifting. We’ll see if the different approach yields different results once hardware like the Samsung Galaxy Book S, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold, and Microsoft Surface Book Neo become available.