Intel Tiger Lake laptop CPUs will roar before 2020 is out – is this the turnaround needed to fight AMD Ryzen 4000?

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Intel has said that it will be shipping Tiger Lake chips for laptops around the middle of 2020, and that it expects these processors to be in more than 50 notebooks by the end of the year.

These fresh Tiger Lake details were revealed by Intel along with its surprisingly strong latest financial results, with profits up over 40% year-on-year.

Previously, we’d been expecting Tiger Lake – which are Intel’s 10nm+ mobile processors, the next step on from 10nm Ice Lake – to ship to laptop manufacturers in the summer.

Now, presumably the middle of the year means June or July, so it seems that earlier in the summer is a more likely prospect for shipping to happen. And that’s obviously good news for Intel, particularly given the coronavirus outbreak which evidently hasn’t been a delaying factor here (as it has in other spheres of the tech world).

Of course, this is also good news for consumers who want more options for powerful laptop CPUs.

However, Tiger Lake chips shipping to notebook makers is one thing, and them actually appearing in laptops which are on shelves is completely another – so when can we expect the latter to happen?

As Tom’s Hardware spotted, CEO Bob Swan boasted that his firm was already seeing early signs of rapid uptake of Tiger Lake mobile chips by laptop makers. Indeed, some 50 or more Tiger Lake-powered notebooks are already in the pipeline to launch by holiday 2020.

Intel made a further observation that compared to Ice Lake, its Tiger Lake line-up of incoming designs is 40% larger at the same point in their respective rollouts (although you would hope so, given that Ice Lake was a disappointing launch, all in all).

Intel clarified that it’s expecting a good deal of demand for Tiger Lake CPUs from laptop manufacturers, and that it has twice the number of pre-qualification chips in reserve compared to Ice Lake.

Claws for thought

In short, all signs point towards Tiger Lake making a lot more impact, which isn’t surprising as the processors make considerable strides forward from Ice Lake beyond simply refining the 10nm process.

Tiger Lake is also built using a new architecture – Willow Cove – which will in itself provide better performance, and on the graphics front, the chips will feature integrated Xe graphics, which again should be a big step forward (particularly for more budget-oriented laptops which eschew a discrete GPU, but are still looking to provide decent gaming frame-rates).

An early leak for 11th-gen Tiger Lake mobile CPUs looks promising, with the purported Intel Core i7-1185G7 having 3DMark results spilled which indicate that it could be around 5% faster than the AMD’s impressive Ryzen 4800U.

We have to take any such leaks with a good deal of caution, naturally – and this is an early Intel sample chip – but it seems like Tiger Lake could offer some major gains for Intel. Providing production can meet demand, of course, and doubtless providing assurance on that front is what the chip giant is trying to achieve with some of these statements.

While Tiger Lake being set to appear in some 50+ laptop designs at the end of the year may sound like a lot, remember that AMD’s Ryzen 4000 7nm mobile chips are expected to debut in something like 150 notebooks through 2020.

Or at least those are the numbers which are currently floating around, although equally, we have to bear in mind that Intel has Comet Lake-H mobile chips – expected to be present in something like 100 laptop designs this year – as well as Tiger Lake.

Intel CPUs may be dominant in the laptop world, but it still has a lot of work to do to keep that turf, and make sure that this arena doesn’t go the same way as the desktop has with Ryzen chips taking over.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).