Intel reveals first scant details of future Ice Lake processors

Intel has spilled the first official (though admittedly scant) details on a future generation of processors that will be known as Ice Lake, and which will utilize a 10nm+ process in their manufacturing.

As you may be aware, Intel has the big reveal of its Coffee Lake CPUs – the eighth generation of the Core family, following on from Kaby Lake – planned for next Monday. This will be the fourth iteration of 14nm processors, and effectively a second optimization phase for this technology, with Intel promising chips which are between 15% to 30% faster than Kaby Lake.

Next in line will be Cannon Lake, which will be the first time Intel drops to 10nm, a smaller process meaning that more transistors can be packed into the compact square which is a CPU – and therefore more power (and indeed there are guaranteed to be power efficiency improvements, and that’s almost more important than outright performance in these days of increasingly mobile computing).

Then we’ll see Ice Lake, which Intel boasted will have "amazing performance and responsiveness", further noting that: "The Ice Lake processor family is a successor to the 8th generation Intel Core processor family. These processors utilize Intel’s industry-leading 10nm+ process technology."

Plus points

That mention of 10nm+ means this will be the first step on from Cannon Lake, with Intel working to refine the architecture to gain further improvements over the smaller 10nm process. (Intel works on what’s known as a process-architecture-optimization model, which means that it invents a new process, refines it with a new microarchitecture, and then implements further optimization on top – then rinses and repeats).

But what this will actually mean in practical terms when we arrive at Ice Lake is obviously far from clear at the moment. The CPUs are still well in the future, and quite possibly won’t arrive until 2019, as the Motley Fool reports (or possibly later next year if we’re lucky).

If we were going to indulge in a spot of wild speculation – and why not? – it did pop into our heads that maybe Ice Lake could be a reference to some seriously cool running for these chips, so perhaps they’ll boast beefy power-efficiency and thermal improvements.

Meanwhile, we might hear some further news regarding the future of Intel CPUs at next week’s Coffee Lake extravaganza, although the focus will naturally be on the new eighth-generation processors.