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  1. Intel’s Tiger Lake CPUs are ready to take on Ryzen 4000 mobile Intel showed us something new at Architecture Day 2020: confidence. Enlarge / Joe Exotic was not given a pass to attend Architecture Day 2020. Aurich Lawson / Getty Images This Tuesday, Intel held an all-day virtual "Architecture Day" conference and took attendees on a deep dive into the architecture of upcoming products in all categories: CPUs, GPUs (dedicated and integrated), and FPGAs. We learned a lot about what Intel's been working on and why, with the most concrete details being about the most imminent release—next month's Tiger Lake laptop processors. Ditching the ticks, tocks, and plusses First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all images. Even for a conference called "Architecture Day," Intel took us unusually deep into its manufacturing and packaging processes. The day's presentations leaned as heavily on improvements in the individual transistors and capacitors on-die as they did on improvements in the processor designs themselves. Aside from the purely educational angle, Intel's focus on the lower levels of design appeared to serve two purposes. The lower-level focus made Intel's 10nm process sound worth the unexpectedly long wait—and it gave Intel a chance to ditch the ponderous "++" suffixes to its process size and dub the whole thing a more human-friendly "SuperFin." With the 14nm process having hit "++++" and the 10nm already on "++," even Intel's own engineers were starting to get confused when talking to one another. So the change is good for more than just marketing. The SuperFin name is a portmanteau of "SuperMIM capacitor design" and "redesigned FinFET transistors." From micro to macro First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all images. The problem with talking about the quality of individual transistors and capacitors in an overall package is that it's difficult to translate directly to performance. So now that we know Intel has been working hard at the lower levels, we move on to design principles that are a little more familiar to most—voltages, frequencies, and subprocessors. Tiger Lake is built upon Willow Cove, the microarchitecture which follows Ice Lake's Sunny Cove. Willow Cove is billed as a significant improvement to Sunny Cove all the way around, with added security features, higher cache, and significantly improved clock speeds. Willow Cove's added clock speed doesn't come with a power consumption handicap. Willow Cove processors have both a larger dynamic range and higher efficiency than Sunny Cove processors did—they can operate at both lower and higher voltages, and their frequencies (which scale with voltage) are higher at the same voltage as well. We're also looking forward to immensely improved integrated graphics. Ice Lake's Iris+ was a much-needed shot in the arm for Intel's traditionally wimpy iGPUs, but it still lagged significantly behind AMD's Vega 11 integrated laptop graphics. Tiger Lake does away with Iris+ and introduces the much beefier Xe LP instead. Intel describes its new line of Xe graphics, including Xe LP, as "industry leading"—and although the company isn't talking benchmarks publicly yet, we suspect it's not kidding. Leaked Time Spy benchmarks show a Tiger Lake i7-1165G7 beating AMD's Ryzen 7 4700U on GPUs by a significant margin—35 percent of the raw score. The same leaked benchmarks have the four-core / eight-thread i7-1165G7 and the 8c/8t Ryzen 7 4700U in a dead heat for CPU prowess, with effectively indistinguishable scores. It's worth noting here that Time Spy is notoriously thread-limited—despite which the Ryzen 7 4800U, with eight cores and 16 threads, does beat the leaked i7-1165G7's CPU score by 34 percent. Finally, Tiger Lake will be able to drive more displays at higher resolutions—and handle AI workloads on larger resolution pipelines—than Ice Lake could. Conclusions First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all images. We haven't actually gotten our hands on any Tiger Lake parts yet, and there's a world of difference between manufacturer claims and fully realized, independently tested systems. But Intel is practically oozing renewed confidence and making bold, if early, claims. It seems like a safe bet that Tiger Lake laptop CPUs will be serious competition for AMD's Ryzen 4000—which neither Ice Lake nor Comet Lake really were. The really interesting question—and one which Intel is still being cagey about—is how many Tiger Lake CPUs Intel will be able to supply to OEMs. The company's presenters said that the 10nm supply problems we saw in Ice Lake had been "overcome"—but they didn't give much definition of what that meant. When we pressed Intel executives further, we received confirmation that there won't be a repeat of Comet Lake—11th-generation mobile parts will be 10nm only, with no competing 14nm announcement. But that declaration came with some notably cautious hedges about what OEMs choose to buy and for how long. This could just be caution, or it could be an indication that Tiger Lake will only be seen in relatively low-volume, high-end systems in much the same way Ice Lake was. Intel’s Tiger Lake CPUs are ready to take on Ryzen 4000 mobile (To view the article's image galleries, please visit the above link)
  2. Intel could kill off traditional USB ports with USB 4 laptops Bye bye Type A (Image credit: Shutterstock) New documentation that supposedly sheds light on Intel’s USB 4 plans, with the USB 4.0 host controller coming in three versions: 0x9A1B, 0x9A1D, and 0x9A13, and it suggests that it will not be compatible with the larger Type A USB ports. According to the leak, which was shared on Twitter by @_rogame, a well known leaker, an internal document mentions how USB 4.0 comes with USB 3.2 support, yet does not mention USB 2.0 or USB 1.1 support. While we expect USB 4 to be backwards compatible to some extent, this new leak suggests that Intel won't be pushing for laptops that come with USB 4 to also have older Type A ports. Although the number and type of ports is down to manufacturers, it could mean most modern laptops will no longer come with those older ports. If you have peripherals that use those ports, you’re therefore likely to need an adaptor. Gone but not forgotten While the loss of Type A ports will be annoying for people who use legacy peripherals, many laptops don’t come with them anyway – MacBooks ditched them years ago. Also, most new peripherals come with the Type-C connection, and that will work with USB 4. The leaked specs also suggest Power Delivery 3.0 for charging devices, and confirm max USB 4 speeds of a huge 40Gbps. For reference, USB 2.0 had max speeds of 480Mbps. So, while many of us will mourn the loss of Type-A USB ports, the benefits USB 4 seems to be bringing will make that sacrifice a bit easier to swallow. Via TechPowerUp Intel could kill off traditional USB ports with USB 4 laptops
  3. Intel's 12th-generation desktop processors could support DDR5 RAM before AMD Leak reveals next-gen memory is coming to Alder Lake CPUs (Image credit: Future) Intel’s 12th-generation Alder Lake desktop processors will reportedly support DDR5 memory – which is twice as fast as the current DDR4 standard. That’s according to Videocardz, which was sent information about Intel’s Alder Lake desktop CPU lineup via an anonymous source – though it’s unclear if the details come via the massive 20GB data leak Intel suffered this week. The information appears to all-but-confirm earlier rumors that the Alder Lake series will be Intel’s first processor lineup to support DDR5 memory, which is expected to double the data rates of DDR4 memory from up to 3.2 gigabits per second to 6.4 Gb/s This latest leak doesn't tell us much else, but previous rumors claimed Intel's 12th-gen chips will support DDR5 at 4800MHz to begin with. This will be with one DIMM (memory stick) per channel, according to the rumor, with speeds topping out at a slower 4000MHz when using two DIMMs per channel speeds will top out at a slower 4000MHz. AMD is expected to bring in DDR5 support in 2022 alongside its Zen 4 processors, so the next couple of years look set to deliver a major memory upgrade in the PC arena. Intel’s Alder Lake desktop processors are expected to arrive in late 2021 or early 2022, and rumor suggests DDR5 support won’t be the only major change the CPUs introduce. It’ll also see Intel introduce a new LGA 1700 socket, which means the the chips won’t be compatible with the firm’s latest Z490 motherboards. The CPUs, which will follow on from Intel's next-generation Rocket Lake parts, will also make use of Intel's Hybrid Technology, as previously seen in Lakefield chips, which will see it combine high-powered processor cores with low-power ones for better performance and power efficiency. Intel's 12th-generation desktop processors could support DDR5 RAM before AMD
  4. More than 20GB of Intel source code and proprietary data dumped online "Exconfidential Lake" leak includes docs Intel provided under NDA as recently as May. Enlarge Tillie Kottman 71 with 59 posters participating, including story author Intel is investigating the purported leak of more than 20 gigabytes of its proprietary data and source code that a security researcher said came from a data breach earlier this year. The data—which at the time this post went live was publicly available on BitTorrent feeds—contains data Intel makes available to partners and customers under NDA, a company spokeswoman said. Speaking on background, she said Intel officials don’t believe the data came from a network breach. She also said the company is still trying to determine how current the material is and that, so far, there is no signs the data includes any customer or personal information. “We are investigating this situation,” company officials said in a statement. “The information appears to come from the Intel Resource and Design Center, which hosts information for use by our customers, partners and other external parties who have registered for access. We believe an individual with access downloaded and shared this data.” Exconfidential Lake The data was published by Tillie Kottmann, a Swiss software engineer who offered barebones details on Twitter. Kottmann has dubbed the leak “exconfidential Lake,” with Lake being a reference to the Intel insider name for its 10 nanometer chip platform. They said they obtained the data from a source who breached Intel earlier this year and that today's installment would be followed by others in the future. “Most of the things here have NOT been published ANYWHERE before and are classified as confidential, under NDA or Intel Restricted Secret,” Kottmann wrote. They said some of the contents included: Intel ME Bringup guides + (flash) tooling + samples for various platforms Kabylake (Purley Platform) BIOS Reference Code and Sample Code + Initialization code (some of it as exported git repos with full history) Intel CEFDK (Consumer Electronics Firmware Development Kit (Bootloader stuff)) SOURCES Silicon / FSP source code packages for various platforms Various Intel Development and Debugging Tools Simics Simulation for Rocket Lake S and potentially other platforms Various roadmaps and other documents Binaries for Camera drivers Intel made for SpaceX Schematics, Docs, Tools + Firmware for the unreleased Tiger Lake platform (very horrible) Kabylake FDK training videos Intel Trace Hub + decoder files for various Intel ME versions Elkhart Lake Silicon Reference and Platform Sample Code Some Verilog stuff for various Xeon Platforms, unsure what it is exactly. Debug BIOS/TXE builds for various Platforms Bootguard SDK (encrypted zip) Intel Snowridge / Snowfish Process Simulator ADK Various schematics Intel Marketing Material Templates (InDesign) Lots of other things Material as recent as May A quick review of the leaked material shows that it consists of confidential materials that Intel customers need to design motherboards, BIOS, or other things that work with CPUs and other chips Intel makes. Although we’re still analyzing the contents, we’re seeing design and test documents, source code, and presentations ranging from as early to Q4 2018 to just a couple of months ago. Most of these documents and source code packages apply to Intel CPU platforms, like Kaby Lake or the upcoming Tiger Lake, although there is a smattering of other documents relating to other products, such as a sensor package Intel developed for SpaceX. There is also a folder dedicated to the Intel Management Engine, but its contents, too, aren’t anything Intel integrators don’t already know. They’re test code and recommendations for when and how often to run those automated tests while designing systems that include an Intel CPU with the Intel ME. One of the dump’s newer bits included “Whitley/Cedar Island Platform Message of the Week,” dated May 5. Cedar Island is the motherboard architecture that lies beneath both Cooper Lake and Ice Lake Xeon CPUs. Some of those chips were released earlier this year, while some have yet to become generally available. Whitley is the dual-socket architecture for both Cooper Lake (14nm) and Ice Lake (10nm) Xeons. Cedar Island is for Cooper Lake only The contents include plenty of diagrams and graphics like the one below: Enlarge Some contents provide a cryptic reference to voltage failures in some Ice Lake samples. It’s not clear if the failures apply to actual hardware delivered to customers or if they’re happening on reference boards Intel provided to OEMs for use in designing their own boards. How done it? While Intel said it doesn’t believe the documents were obtained through a network breach, a screenshot of the conversation Kottmann had with the source provided an alternate explanation. The source said that the documents were hosted on an unsecured server hosted on Akamai’s content delivery network. The source claimed to have identified the server using the nmap port-scanning tool and from there, used a python script to guess default passwords. Here’s the conversation: source: They have a server hosted online by Akami CDN that wasn't properly secure. After an internet wide nmap scan I found my target port open and went through a list of 370 possible servers based on details that nmap provided with an NSE script. source: I used a python script I made to probe different aspects of the server including username defaults and unsecure file/folder access. source: The folders were just lying open if you could guess the name of one. Then when you were in the folder you could go back to root and just click into the other folders that you didn't know the name of. deletescape: holy shit that's incredibly funny source: Best of all, due to another misconfiguration, I could masqurade as any of their employees or make my own user. deletescape: LOL source: Another funny thing is that on the zip files you may find password protected. Most of them use the password Intel123 or a lowercase intel123 source: Security at it's finest. Kottmann said they didn’t know the source well but based on the apparent authenticity of the material, there's no reason to doubt the source's account of how it was obtained. The Intel spokeswoman didn’t immediately provide a response to the claim. Many onlookers have expressed alarm that the source code has comments containing the word “backdoor.” Kottmann told Ars that the word appeared two times in the source code associated with Intel’s Purely Refresh chipset for Xeon CPUs. So far, there are no known analyses of the source code that have found any covert methods for bypassing authentication, encryption, or other security protections. Besides, the term backdoor in coding can sometimes refer to debugging functions or have other benign meanings. People are also lampooning the use of the passwords Intel123 and intel123. These are no doubt weak passwords, but it’s unlikely their purpose was to secure the contents of the archive files from unauthorized people. More than 20GB of Intel source code and proprietary data dumped online
  5. Intel’s own website leaks Tiger Lake CPU event happening in early September With a possible GPU briefing next week Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge A few weeks ago, Intel teased that “something big” is happening on September 2nd. Now, thanks to the event calendar on the company’s own investor relations site (and eagle-eyed Twitter user @SteakisGood for spotting it), we have confirmation that this is when Intel plans to talk more about its 10nm 11th Gen Tiger Lake CPUs, the ones featuring its anticipated Xe graphics. Acer has already promised machines that feature the new processor, so perhaps we’ll hear more about OEM support. Mark your calendar. Intel has already marked its own (and forgot to hide it) Another notable date on the calendar is even sooner. Next week, on August 13th, Intel is hosting an event called “Updates from our Chief Architect, Raja Koduri.” We suspect the company will be providing more details about its first discrete GPU, the DG1, which it announced back at CES 2020. Intel didn’t have much to share at CES about when we can expect to see the DG1 arrive in devices, but apparently this could now happen very soon. Intel’s own website leaks Tiger Lake CPU event happening in early September
  6. The next Intel processors could adopt one of AMD Ryzen's most important features Rocket Lake may finally support PCIe 4.0 (Image credit: Future) When Intel launched its 10th-generation Comet Lake-S processors, one of the biggest things that held us back from recommending them was the lack of PCIe 4.0 support – but that could be changing. Some leaked SiSoftware Sandra benchmark results have appeared via VideoCardz, with 11th-generation Rocket Lake-S processors paired with PCIe 4.0 SSDs. If the leaks are real – a pretty big if – it would mean that Rocket Lake would be the first Intel desktop lineup to support the new PCIe standard. With the PS5 and Xbox Series X both using PCIe 4.0 SSDs, the standard is going to incredibly important for PC gaming going forward, which means Intel really needs to implement support going forward on its premium desktop processors. It's competitor AMD has been offering the technology since July 2019 with the release of the Ryzen 3000 lineup, led by the Ryzen 9 3900X. Only time will tell when 11th-generation Intel Rocket Lake processors will actually hit the market at this point, but we've seen previous speculation that it'll be pretty soon. Either way, we'll hear more about Rocket Lake when Intel is ready to share some specific information. Who knows, we may even hear something at Intel's 'big' event on September 2 – though we suspect that will mainly be Tiger Lake. PCIe 4.0 is the future One of the biggest things stopping the Intel Core i9-10900K from getting our recommendation is the lack of PCIe 4.0 support. As we mentioned earlier, this technology is going to be key to the next generation of games, as even Epic Games' Tim Sweeney has claimed that PC gamers are going to need to adopt a PCIe SSD if they want next-generation performance out of their games. And it's not like it's some frivolous upgrade either. The difference in speed that the bump up to PCIe 4.0 offers is incredible. Way back when we reviewed the AMD Ryzen 9 3900X, we were blown away by the 29% boost in sequential read speeds over something like the Samsung 970 Pro. When you compare that against the speed of SATA-based hard drives and SSDs, we're talking about a whole other world of performance. Plus, with its new DGX A100 deep learning system, Nvidia teamed up with AMD because of the lack of PCIe 4.0 support with Team Blue's processors. And, if Ampere is apparently getting a boost from the standard at the high level, it's a pretty safe bet that will trickle down to the consumer-facing GeForce RTX 3080 when that supposedly releases later this year – if it releases this year. If Intel doesn't want to get completely left behind, the inclusion of PCIe 4.0 compatibility across both its mainstream desktop lineup and its HEDT X-series lineups is necessary. Luckily, all the rumors are pointing to 11th-generation desktop silicon supporting it, and many Z490 motherboards are ready for the technology, simply waiting for the greenlight from Intel. The next Intel processors could adopt one of AMD Ryzen's most important features
  7. Intel’s hardware chief is leaving the company Dr. Venkata (Murthy) Renduchintala’s last day will be August 3rd Image: Intel The executive in charge of almost all of Intel’s hardware, chief engineering officer Dr. Venkata (Murthy) Renduchintala, is leaving the company on August 3rd, Intel announced on Monday. His departure comes on the heels of Intel’s announcement that its next-gen 7nm chips are delayed until at least 2022, and after years of delays for the company’s 10nm processors as well, which bottlenecked advancements for much of the laptop industry. Intel did not cite a specific reason for Renduchintala’s departure. Intel poached Renduchintala from Qualcomm in February 2016, and put him in charge of everything from the design to engineering to manufacturing of Intel’s chips — and other hardware bets — under one group, the Technology, Systems Architecture and Client Group. That division will now be split up into five different teams, divvying up responsibilities in technology development, manufacturing, design engineering, architecture, and supply chain management, and the leaders of each of those groups will report directly to Intel CEO Bob Swan. On Thursday, Swan spent part of the company’s earnings call discussing the possibility of Intel abandoning the practice of manufacturing its own chips, something it had long done and touted as a strength even after competitors like AMD outsourced actual chip production. Intel is rumored to be in talks with TSMC, where it might have to compete with Apple, Qualcomm, AMD and Nvidia for the Taiwanese semiconductor giant’s attentions, among other customers. Intel’s hardware chief is leaving the company
  8. Intel's next desktop processors could keep single-core crown from AMD after all Intel Rocket Lake might have some major IPC improvements (Image credit: Shutterstock.com / Alexander Tolstykh) Intel Comet Lake-S processors have only been out for a couple of months at this point, but the next-generation Rocket Lake leaks and rumors just keep piling up. The latest of which comes courtesy of known hardware leaker @_rogame, who reiterates the 5GHz boost clocks we reported on earlier, but the bigger story is the IPC performance. According to @_rogame, we're going to see a 10% IPC (instructions per clock) increase over Skylake, which when combined with the high clock speeds, may be enough to hold off AMD. However, while we have heard rumors that the 11th-generation Intel Rocket Lake processors will be out in the near future, it's important to note that AMD Zen 3 chips will be out this year, as Team Red has reiterated again and again. The shrink down from 12nm Zen+ to 7nm Zen 2 brought an IPC uplift somewhere in the ballpark of 15% in 2019. And, it'd be foolish to expect that AMD has been sitting around not improving IPC performance for Zen 3 – as even with the new 3000XT chips, AMD is still behind on the single-core battle. If Intel wants to maintain its hold on the "best gaming processor" title that it loves to parade around whenever the company releases a new desktop lineup, then this rumored IPC increase is necessary. We somehow doubt that the AMD Ryzen 4000 processors are going to boost up to 5GHz, but if AMD has stronger IPC, then Team Red could do more with less clock speed, which would be a nightmare for Intel. Only time will tell either way. According to that @_rogame tweet, the next generation desktop lineup will be based on a new Cypress Cove architecture, still based on the 14nm manufacturing node. This basically has to be the case if these IPC improvements are ever going to be true. Either way, if Intel is getting ready to follow up Comet Lake-S with Rocket Lake this soon, the CPU battleground is going to heat up immensely in the near future. Intel's next desktop processors could keep single-core crown from AMD after all
  9. As 7nm schedule continues slipping, Intel contemplates 3rd-party fabs Intel's 7nm parts are now projected to arrive alongside TSMC's 3nm, in 2022/23. Enlarge / Intel's continuing setbacks when developing newer, denser manufacturing processes raise questions about how it will compete with AMD—let alone emerging ARM-based rivals like Amazon, Apple, or Ampere. MaximumPC / Getty Images 138 with 83 posters participating, including story author Yesterday, Intel's Q2 2020 earnings report brought more grim news for the company's advanced manufacturing processes. Its next-generation 7nm manufacturing process is now a full year behind schedule, with those parts now scheduled to see the light of day no earlier than late 2022. Intel’s 14nm barrier Intel's struggles with 7nm development and manufacturing follow what can generously be described as a less-than-successful transition to 10nm. In March of this year, Intel CFO George Davis described the company's 10nm process (used in its current Ice Lake line of laptop CPUs) as "[not] the best node that Intel has ever had," going on to say that 10nm Intel would be "less productive than 14nm, less productive than 22nm... it isn't going to be as strong a node as people would expect from 14nm or what they'll see in 7nm." These struggles to get higher clock speeds and better yield rates out of 10nm has forced Intel to continue relying on its aging 14nm process, now so elderly and frequently revised it's often referred to as "14nm++++." The Ice Lake 10nm laptop CPUs are a long way from worthless—due to their higher integrated GPU performance and power efficiency, they're a premium choice for battery-constrained devices. But even in laptops, Intel Ice Lake 10nm competes directly against Intel Comet Lake 14nm, with the highest-performance Intel parts coming from the older process. When Davis admitted these setbacks with 10nm in March, he held out 7nm as Intel's chance to regain parity with other manufacturers—so this week's news that 7nm has slipped six months further behind is particularly grim. Assuming no further setbacks, this puts Intel's eventual 7nm debut on roughly the same schedule as rival foundry TSMC's projected 3nm parts. (TSMC is one of the world's largest foundries; Intel rival AMD is one of TSMC's customers.) Intel's nomenclature for process size is a little different from TSMC's—an Intel 7nm process is roughly the same actual transistor density as a TSMC 5nm process. But that distinction, while important, doesn't nullify the projections of Intel being a full process size behind its competition for another entire architectural cycle. Scrambling for alternatives With its internal manufacturing so far behind, Intel is beginning to look at "more aggressive" outsourcing strategies. As one of the historically largest and most successful chip foundries in the world, Intel has in the past used third-party fabs for very little of its production. Typically, it's only relied on third-party fabs for cheap, non-CPU products build on older processes. Given its ongoing struggles with 10nm and now 7nm, CEO Bob Swain says the company is looking at a more "pragmatic" approach to the use of third-party foundries. This might mean more critical components such as GPUs or even CPUs coming from outside Intel itself, with the company's advanced multichip-packaging technologies used to aggregate dissimilar dies into a single package. Relying on third-party sources for mission-critical parts exposes Intel to a lot of pressures it has previously avoided by keeping things in-house—externally sourcing components may mean shrinking margins and even supply-assurance struggles, with Intel forced to compete with competitors like AMD and Nvidia for production capacity at the same third-party fabricators. In March, Intel planned to cut short the 10nm production cycle, relying on a rapid deployment of 7nm to regain parity with its competition. But with this week's 7nm setback announcement, it's falling back to making 10nm work—the company now says it will increase its shipment of 10nm CPUs by 20 percent and gain another "full node of performance" from the 10nm process. That means we'll be looking for a 10nm+ before we see a 7nm debut. Intel's first 10nm desktop CPU architecture, Alder Lake, is expected to come to market sometime in the second half of 2021. As 7nm schedule continues slipping, Intel contemplates 3rd-party fabs
  10. Intel 11th-gen processors may top out at just 8 cores But Rocket Lake CPUs could boost to a mighty 5GHz (Image credit: Future) It’s not all bad news out of Intel, as it looks like the chipmaker’s 11th-generation Rocket Lake processors could boost to an impressive 5GHz. That’s according to a Geekbench submission shared by Leakbench, which shows what is likely Intel's next-generation Core i7 or Core i9 flagship. The chip in question carries 8 cores with hyper threading, features a base clock of 3.4GHz, and boasts a mighty boost clock of 5GHz. In Geekbench 5, the as-yet-unidentified CPU racked up a single-core score of 1,507 points, and 7,603 in the multi-core test. Compare that the the Intel Core i9-10900K and the results are somewhat underwhelming; the Comet Lake chip scored 1,416 and 10,989 in single and multi-core tests, respectively. However, this is likely far from the final performance we can expect from Rocket Lake-S, as the 11th-gen CPUs probably won't launch any time soon – unless they make a surprise appearance at Intel's big reveal on September 2. Rocket Lake-S may be a way off, but we’ve already heard plenty about Intel’s next-generation CPU lineup. The chips, which will succeed Intel’s just-launched Comet Lake-S parts, will continue to be manufactured on the 14nm process; Intel confirmed this week that its first 10nm desktop CPUs are still over a year away, with its 7nm CPUs delayed beyond 2022. 11th-generation processors are also expected to drop back down to a maximum offering of 8 cores and 16 threads due to the fact because Rocket Lake-S will be based on Intel's all-new Willow Cove architecture. However, this is also expected to deliver IPC (instructions per clock) improvements – as evidenced by the leaked 5GHz boost clock. The incoming Rocket Lake CPUs, which will unlikely debut until 2021, are also rumored to work with the chipmaker's new Z490 motherboards, with rumors claiming the CPUs will even be supported on lower-tier 400-series motherboards, according to Wccftech. Intel 11th-gen processors may top out at just 8 cores
  11. Intel is already delaying its 7nm processors Intel reported its quarterly earnings today, and it offered some bad news on its upcoming products. Its 7nm processors are already delayed six months beyond its targeted release, and this is due to the yield being a full year behind the company's target, as noted in the press release. This isn't particularly surprising, given that its 10nm chips were delayed for years. We finally started to see 10nm last year with Ice Lake, but Intel struggled to make enough of them to the point where it had to also make a 14nm line of U- and Y-series processors. Moreover, aside from the U- and Y-series, the entire 10th-gen lineup is built on a 14nm node. The firm should be expanding on that soon, although not completely. With 11th-gen processors, at least the entire lineup of U- and Y-series chips should be on a 10nm node, and it has plans for Ice Lake server chips this year. Desktop processors will still be 14nm in the next generation, but in 2021 H2, the company will release its 10nm Alder Lake S processors. Of course, the real issue is that the rest of the market is already looking beyond 7nm nodes. Qualcomm introduced the first 7nm mobile PC chip with the Snapdragon 8cx in December 2018. And in January 2020, AMD, Intel's chief competitor in the x86 space, actually introduced 7nm x86 processors. The mobile market is the same, with 7nm being the current standard for Apple, Samsung, TSMC, and more. Intel, unfortunately for it, is stuck in a place where it's still just getting into 10nm nodes for the foreseeable future. Intel is already delaying its 7nm processors
  12. Intel Alder Lake CPUs could be something very special for laptops, leak suggests Different flavors of Intel’s 12th-gen chips have been leaked, including mobile and desktop (Image credit: Shutterstock) Intel’s Alder Lake 12th-gen processors will come in three different flavors – Alder Lake-S for desktop, as well as ‘M’ (mobile, or laptops) and ‘P’ (server) variants – according to a fresh rumor which details the various configurations these chips might arrive in. This speculation was flagged up by regular hardware leaker @momomo_us on Twitter, and comes from Sharkbay on the PTT forums (as spotted by Videocardz). So, liberal amounts of condiments should be showered about here, but Alder Lake-S desktop processors could come in two main configurations: This is the same as the previous chatter we’ve heard, which does add some weight in terms of the likelihood of the leak being on the money. However, this is still just a rumor of course, and note that there will obviously be other variations too, fleshing out the range with cut-down versions of the above. The flagship will seemingly be 8 large plus 8 small, though. These processors will use Intel’s Hybrid Technology (as previously seen in Lakefield chips), a similar concept to ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture – meaning it combines high-powered (big) processor cores with low-power (small) ones, the latter of which can be tapped for light work. TDPs will apparently be pitched the same as Comet Lake, running up to 125W. Mobile magic The Alder Lake-M – mobile chips aimed at laptops – potential configuration the leak highlights is: 2 Big Cores + 8 Small Cores + GT2 GPU This does, of course, look very different to the desktop spins, and the idea would be that the small cores take on a lot of the work in terms of light duties. That means when you’re out and about on battery power just doing basic bits and pieces like web surfing, longevity should be very impressive (because the CPU is only sipping power when running on those small cores). Alder Lake’s design definitely makes sense for the likes of laptops, and holds the promise of an exciting leap forward in terms of working (or indeed playing) with your portable away from a power socket. But exactly what this hybrid configuration of big and small cores will do for a traditional desktop PC – where power consumption is hardly such a pressing matter – is where things get a bit stickier. Intel has decided that 8-cores is enough for next-gen Rocket Lake chips, or at least that has been the insistence for some time on the CPU grapevine, so perhaps with the follow-on Alder Lake, the thinking is to stick with this philosophy – but provide extra power via those smaller cores pitching in on top. The concern, perhaps, is how this will stack up against the sort of Ryzen 16-core processor (16 full cores) AMD will be offering by the time Alder Lake emerges, possibly early in 2022 (there are whispers about late 2021 – but this is all very much guesswork at this point, of course). Alder Lake-P is the third different variation highlighted, which will likely be the Atom Server series, allegedly having the following configurations: 2 Big Cores + 8 Small Cores + GT2 GPU 6 Big Cores + 8 Small Cores + GT2 GPU It’s unclear what integrated graphics 12th-gen Alder Lake will use exactly, but the rumor mill contends that it could stick with the same Gen12 (Xe Graphics) that will be employed with 11th-gen Rocket Lake. Going by some info that surfaced on Reddit, the GPU will allegedly be a 14nm affair (although as previously rumored, the CPU is 10nm). There’s a lot that’s uncertain at the moment, then, but what’s abundantly clear is that Alder Lake will be a very big change for Intel. Intel Alder Lake CPUs could be something very special for laptops, leak suggests
  13. Intel has something big coming on September 2 – but what could it be? Intel teaser hints that 11th-generation CPUs are coming (Image credit: Shutterstock.com / Alexander Tolstykh) Intel is teasing "something big" for a virtual event its holding on September 2nd, hinting that it's preparing to launch its long-awaited Tiger Lake CPU lineup. The teaser, which landed in TechRadar's inbox today, all but confirms that Intel is gearing up to launch its 11th-generation processor lineup, with the company promising to showcase how it’s "pushing the boundaries of how we work and keep connected." (Image credit: Intel) What's more, previous rumors had suggested that Intel would launch its Tiger Lake lineup at Computex in September, but the show was cancelled last month due to the coronavirus crisis. The Tiger Lake lineup was first shown off at CES 2020. At the time, the chipmaker boasted that the new processors will deliver "double digit performance games", improved AI performance and better graphics, no doubt due to the processors' Intel Xe-based GPU. As well as a new GPU architecture, the Tiger Lake processors - which are expected to arrive in dual-core and quad-core configurations – will also be built on Intel’s new 10nm+ Willow Cove architecture. A mobile battle to watch Once official, Tiger Lake will face off against AMD Ryzen 4000 mobile processors. Leaked benchmarks show the as-yet-unannounced Intel Core i7-1165G7, a quad-core, eight-thread CPU, falling short of AMD’s Ryzen 7 4800U in performance tests. However, the Intel CPU managed to outperform AMD's Ryzen 7 4800U in the graphics tests, with Team Red's Vega iGPU falling short of Intel's Iris Xe graphics. This suggests that even though it’s still in its early stages, Intel’s Xe architecture will give AMD a run for its money – at least until Big Navi shows up. Intel’s September 2 virtual event could also see the arrival of the chipmaker’s Rocket Lake-S desktop processors. These are expected to be built on the same Willow Cove architecture that Tiger Lake will be, but still manufactured on a 14nm node. These CPUs will also have AMD to contend with, as Team Red will launch its 7nm Ryzen 4000 desktop CPUs later this year. Intel has something big coming on September 2 – but what could it be?
  14. Intel's 12th-gen Alder Lake CPUs might have big and little cores A month ago, Intel detailed its Lakefield processors, which are designed for dual-screen and foldable PCs. Lakefield uses what Intel calls its Hybrid Technology, combining big and small cores (Intel actually calls it Big-Bigger), just like ARM processors have been doing for ages. According to a new report from VideoCardz, the firm is set to bring this technology to desktop processors as well. The report shows three SKUs, two of which are 8+8, and one of which is 6+0. It would seem as though higher end SKUs such as the Core i7 and Core i9 would have 16 cores, with eight big cores and eight little ones, while lower end SKUs would just have big cores. These small cores are usually designed for mobile devices to preserve battery life, so we'll have to wait and see what advantages Intel plans to deliver on desktops. The leak includes other information about Alder Lake as well. It's likely to be Intel's 12th-gen desktop CPU lineup, following Rocket Lake, and that means that the earliest we could see it is the end of next year. It's also set to be the first S-series product from the company to be made on a 10nm process, and it's going to require a new socket. Yes, the LGA1200 socket is only lasting two generations before we head to LGA1700. According to the report, LGA1700 could last three generations, although it could get PCIe 5.0 support at some point. Intel's chips will finally support PCIe 4.0 starting with its 11th-generation 'Rocket Lake' processors. It also seems that while the K-series TDP is remaining at 125W, something that we first got with 10th-gen 'Comet Lake', the standard S-series processors might get a boost to 80W. However, that boost could end up coming with Rocket Lake as well. The big cores included in the new chips will be Golden Cove, while the small cores will be Gracemont, which is the successor to Tremont. Intel's 12th-gen Alder Lake CPUs might have big and little cores
  15. Linux founder chastises Intel for using 'power virus' tech Linux creator Torvalds thinks Intel’s AVX-512 instructions are a waste of transistors (Image credit: Future) Intel’s 512-bit AVX-512 SIMD extensions for x86 instruction set architecture are used for various compute-intensive workloads on workstations and servers, but AVX-512 hardware execution units are power hungry and that causes some headaches for developers. Software icon Linus Torvalds recently condemned AVX-512 and called the company to develop a better solution for complex HPC problems. The creator of Linux went as far as called AVX-512 a ‘power virus’ and wished it to ‘die a painful death.’ Intel’s Advanced Vector Extensions are meant to radically improve performance in workloads that rely on floating point computations. HPC programs and various FP benchmarks that use AVX-512-optimized code offer tangibly better performance than applications which rely purely on FPUs. However, AVX-512 units lower CPU clocks because of significant power draw. “I hope AVX512 dies a painful death, and that Intel starts fixing real problems instead of trying to create magic instructions to then create benchmarks that they can look good on,” Torvalds said. “I hope Intel gets back to basics: gets their process working again, and concentrate more on regular code that isn't HPC or some other pointless special case.” Linux Intel Torvalds added that he believed Intel should spend CPU transistor budget on regular FPUs or on GPUs rather than on AVX-512 units because the former can benefit everyone, whereas only select applications can take advantage of AVX-512. “I want my power limits to be reached with regular integer code, not with some AVX-512 power virus that takes away top frequency (because people ended up using it for memcpy!) and takes away cores (because those useless garbage units take up space),” Mr. Torvalds exclaimed. Intel does not support all AVX-512 instructions across all of its processors. Server CPUs support the extensions broadly as many HPC workloads use Intel’s latest extensions, but client processors until recently supported only select AVX-512 instructions. Meanwhile, Intel’s latest Ice Lake chips and upcoming Tiger Lake CPUs support AVX-512 rather extensively as the chipmaker hopes that developers of client software will also take advantage of the technology. It is necessary to note that Linus Torvalds is not against extensions for x86 instruction set architecture per se, but he says that AVX2 is more than enough. “I absolutely detest FP benchmarks, and I realize other people care deeply,” said Mr. Torvalds. “I just think AVX-512 is exactly the wrong thing to do. […] It's a prime example of something Intel has done wrong, partly by just increasing the fragmentation of the market. Stop with the special-case garbage, and make all the core common stuff that everybody cares about run as well as you humanly can. Then do an FPU that is barely good enough on the side, and people will be happy. AVX2 is much more than enough.” Linux founder chastises Intel for using 'power virus' tech
  16. New Core i9-10850K 10-core Comet Lake-S CPU could be launching soon Intel appears to be preparing another ten core processor to add to its recently launched Comet Lake-S desktop lineup. This new CPU labeled the Core i9-10850K has been spotted by prolific leakster APISAK on Geekbench v4.3.3. Since this is a slightly older version of Geekbench, its best not to look too much into the scores of the CPU, however, the specifications of this new, yet to be announced processor is definitely worth noting. The Core i9-10850K appears similarly spec'd to the already available 10-core, 20-threaded i9-10900K in terms of cores, threads, and cache memory. The base and boost clocks, though, are both being reported 100MHz lower than the 10900K, at 3.6GHz and 5.2Ghz, respectively. So in terms of the overall performance, there really shouldn't be much of a difference between the two, and the new i9-10850K could end up offering a far better value depending on how much lower Intel prices this part. Since this is seemingly an unlocked (K) part, it should allow overclocking on a Z390 chipset LGA 1200 socket motherboard. Additionally, it also means the TDP of the processor will be 125W and it most likely won't come with a boxed cooler. New Core i9-10850K 10-core Comet Lake-S CPU could be launching soon
  17. iMac 2020 may still be rocking an intel processor after all Leak suggests all-in-one will pack a mysterious Intel Core-10910 CPU (Image credit: Future) Though Apple didn't show off a new iMac at this year's WWDC, it looks like the company is still gearing up to launch a new Intel-powered all-in-one PC. Details of Apple's incoming desktop machine have appeared on Geekbench, and seems to confirm that iMacs won’t be switching to switching to an ARM-based CPU just yet. The leak, spotted by tipster @_rogame, lists the 2020 iMac’s processor as an Intel Core-10910 CPU with 10-cores, 20-threads, a base clock speed of 3.6GHz and a boost clock of 4.7GHz, which suggests that the Core i9-10910 is essentially a higher clocked version of the Core i9-10900. No such part is listed on Intel’s website, so it's likely this is a "special" 95W part designed exclusively for Apple, especially given Intel doesn’t currently have a 95W Core i9 processor in its Comet Lake-S lineup. The listing also details an unannounced AMD Radeon Pro 5300 graphics card, which appears to be a desktop variant of the Radeon Pro 5300M that sits inside the 16-inch MacBook Pro. According to the Geekbench listing, the so-called Radeon Pro 5300 packs 4GB of VRAM, 20 compute units and a clock speed of 1.65GHz. There's no details about the GPU's memory, but it's likely the Radeon Pro 5300 will offer the same 12Gbps GDDR6 memory as its mobile counterpart. Return of the iMac Beyond its exclusive internals, the 2020 iMac is also expected to boast a major redesign. Rumors claim the desktop machine, which hasn’t been updated since March 2019, will sport Pro Display-like bezels and an all-new 23-inch screen that Apple will squeeze into the same size chassis as the existing 21.5-inch mode. The 2020 iMac will also signal the death of the Fusion drive, according to rumors, with Apple set to abandon spinning hard drives in favor of an all-SSD lineup. iMac 2020 may still be rocking an intel processor after all
  18. Intel 11th-generation Rocket Lake-S CPU spotted on Geekbench Listing points to an 8-core, 16-thread processor with a 4.3GHz boost clock (Image credit: Future) An Intel Rocket Lake-S processor with 8-cores and 16-threads has appeared on Geekbench ahead of its rumoured launch in 2021. Though Intel’s 11th-generation CPU lineup is unlikely to arrive any time soon, this is the second time we've seen a top-end 8-core, 16-thread Rocket Lake-S CPU appear in Geekbench, adding yet more weight to the rumours that the lineup will top-out at a maximum of eight cores compared to Comet Lake's 10. The processor, which is expected to bring an architecture change from Skylake for the first time in five years, is listed as having a base clock of 3.2GHz and boost clock of 4.3GHz, which suggests this is the same chip that showed up earlier this month. In addition, this latest leak details the processor’s built-in iGPU, which reportedly sports 32 Compute Units, with a core clock frequency of 1.15GHz and 6.33GB of VRAM. However, although the iGPU is expected to be using the Intel Xe graphics architecture, early benchmarking scores don’t look promising. As reported by Notebookcheck, the Xe graphics scored just 6,266 In the OpenCL benchmark test, almost 40 percent slower than the Vega 10 integrated graphics found in AMD’s 15W, ultra-low voltage Ryzen 7 3700U APU. What’s more, this is also slightly lower than the 6,360 points racked up by the Intel UHD 630 graphics found in the Intel Core i7-10700K. However, that’s likely because the CPU benchmarked is an early engineering sample – performance numbers are likely far from final. And though Rocket Lake will continue to be based on 14nm, it's expected that Intel's upcoming Willow Cave architecture – which will also be used for Tiger Lake CPUs – will deliver decent IPC gains, with early rumors suggesting a boost of up to 25%. Though not mentioned in this latest leak, it’s also widely expected that Intel’s Rocket Lake-S processors are also rumored to work with the chipmaker's new Z490 motherboards, and will boast PCIe 4.0 support. Intel is expected to launch its Rocket Lake-S processors in the first half of 2021. Intel 11th-generation Rocket Lake-S CPU spotted on Geekbench
  19. Next-gen Intel Alder Lake-S desktop processors to use LGA 1700 socket Intel's next-gen Alder Lake-S desktop CPUs will require a new LGA 1700 socket according to a leak from the company's official development resource website which lists the various projects that the firm is working on. Good ol' leakster momomo_us was able to grab a snap of the information there about the future Alder Lake platform(s). via momomo_us (Twitter) The leak confirms that Intel is testing, or close to testing, power delivery and voltage regulation (VR) of the new LGA 1700 socket using the Gen5 VR Test Tool kit. Intel only recently debuted LGA 1200 socket and Z490 chipset motherboards with Comet Lake-S and so it'll likely be a while before we see Alder Lake-S and socket LGA 1700 in action. Rocket Lake-S, the immediate successor to Comet Lake-S, could be the first Intel platform to debut PCIe 4.0 support according to a leaked features slide (via Videocardz). Hence, the recent inclusion of PCIe 4.0 support on Gigabyte Z490 motherboards makes sense as it could be in anticipation of Rocket Lake-S and sort of confirms the existence of PCIe 4.0 compatibility on the next-gen Intel desktop lineup. So, Alder Lake-S might be when PCIe 4.0 support matures and expands to more affordable motherboard options. There is also the mention of Alder Lake P but currently, no concrete information exists about it. Source: momomo_us (Twitter) | Image(2): Videocardz Next-gen Intel Alder Lake-S desktop processors to use LGA 1700 socket
  20. This is Intel’s not-so-secret weapon against AMD, but will it be too late? Nanowire/nanoribbon is the way to go, Intel head says During a recent presentation, Intel CTO and GM of Technology Development Dr. Mike Mayberry shed some light on what’s in the pipeline for the company - and it's got a lot to do with nanoribbon/nanowire. The full presentation on 'The Future of Compute' can be found above. It's quite technical, but a deeper analysis led AnandTech’s Dr. Ian Cutress to the conclusion Intel will mass produce Nanowire/Nanoribbon components by 2025. Certainly, the evolution from so-called FinFET to Nanoribbon/Nanowire is a logical way for the company to cram more performance into even smaller volumes to keep up with Moore’s Law. Nanowire technology, which is known across the semiconductor industry as Gate-All-Around or GAA, can be scaled laterally into sheets (Samsung calls it MBCFET). Other rivals such as TSMC are likely to be working on nanowire projects as well, which means the likes of Nvidia, Apple, Qualcomm and AMD will benefit as well. Samsung’s first 3nm GAAFET prototypes were announced earlier this year, while TSMC’s plans to introduce the new technology seems to have been delayed by the current pandemic, with mass production of 3nm GAAFET silicon likely to be pushed till 2022. This means as many as three years will pass before Intel ramps up production. We know AMD’s Zen 5 and Zen 4 architectures are already in development and could well be the first ones to use this new node, along with the successor to Nvidia’s Ampere. Via AnandTech This is Intel’s not-so-secret weapon against AMD, but will it be too late?
  21. Intel will soon bake anti-malware defenses directly into its CPUs Control-Flow Enforcement Technology will debut in Tiger Lake microarchitecture. Enlarge / A mobile PC processor code-named Tiger Lake. It will be the first CPU to offer a security capability known as Control-Flow Enforcement Technology. Intel 78 with 53 posters participating The history of hacking has largely been a back-and-forth game, with attackers devising a technique to breach a system, defenders constructing a countermeasure that prevents the technique, and hackers devising a new way to bypass system security. On Monday, Intel is announcing its plans to bake a new parry directly into its CPUs that’s designed to thwart software exploits that execute malicious code on vulnerable computers. Control-Flow Enforcement Technology, or CET, represents a fundamental change in the way processors execute instructions from applications such as Web browsers, email clients, or PDF readers. Jointly developed by Intel and Microsoft, CET is designed to thwart a technique known as return-oriented programming, which hackers use to bypass anti-exploit measures software developers introduced about a decade ago. While Intel first published its implementation of CET in 2016, the company on Monday is saying that its Tiger Lake CPU microarchitecture will be the first to include it. ROP, as return-oriented programming is usually called, was software exploiters’ response to protections such as Executable Space Protection and address space layout randomization, which made their way into Windows, macOS, and Linux a little less than two decades ago. These defenses were designed to significantly lessen the damage software exploits could inflict by introducing changes to system memory that prevented the execution of malicious code. Even when successfully targeting a buffer overflow or other vulnerability, the exploit resulted only in a system or application crash, rather than a fatal system compromise. ROP allowed attackers to regain the high ground. Rather than using malicious code written by the attacker, ROP attacks repurpose functions that benign applications or OS routines have already placed into a region of memory known as the stack. The “return” in ROP refers to use of the RET instruction that’s central to reordering the code flow. Very effective Alex Ionescu, a veteran Windows security expert and VP of engineering at security firm CrowdStrike, likes to say that if a benign program is like a building made of Lego bricks that were built in a specific sequence, ROP uses the same Lego pieces but in a different order. In so doing, ROP converts the building into a spaceship. The technique is able to bypass the anti-malware defenses because it uses memory-resident code that’s already permitted to be executed. CET introduces changes in the CPU that create a new stack called the control stack. This stack can’t be modified by attackers and doesn’t store any data. It stores the return addresses of the Lego bricks that are already in the stack. Because of this, even if an attacker has corrupted a return address in the data stack, the control stack retains the correct return address. The processor can detect this and halt execution. “Because there is no effective software mitigation against ROP, CET will be very effective at detecting and stopping this class of vulnerability,” Ionescu told me. “Previously, operating systems and security solutions had to guess or infer that ROP had happened, or perform forensic analysis, or detect the second stage payloads/effect of the exploit.” Not that CET is limited to defenses against ROP. CET provides a host of additional protections, some of which thwart exploitation techniques known as jump-oriented programming and call-oriented programming, to name just two. ROP, however, is among the most interesting aspects of CET. Those who do not remember the past Intel has built other security functions into its CPUs with less-than-stellar results. One is Intel’s SGX, short for Software Guard eXtension, which is supposed to carve out impenetrable chunks of protected memory for security-sensitive functions such as the creation of cryptographic keys. Another security add-on from Intel is known as the Converged Security and Management Engine, or simply the Management Engine. It’s a subsystem inside Intel CPUs and chipsets that implements a host of sensitive functions, among them the firmware-based Trusted Platform Module used for silicon-based encryption, authentication of UEFI BIOS firmware, and the Microsoft System Guard and BitLocker. A steady stream of security flaws discovered in both CPU-resident features, however, has made them vulnerable to a variety of attacks over the years. The most recent SGX vulnerabilities were disclosed just last week. It’s tempting to think that CET will be similarly easy to defeat, or worse, will expose users to hacks that wouldn’t be possible if the protection hadn’t been added. But Joseph Fitzpatrick, a hardware hacker and a researcher at SecuringHardware.com, says he’s optimistic CET will perform better. He explained: One distinct difference that makes me less skeptical of this type of feature versus something like SGX or ME is that both of those are “adding on” security features, as opposed to hardening existing features. ME basically added a management layer outside the operating system. SGX adds operating modes that theoretically shouldn't be able to be manipulated by a malicious or compromised operating system. CET merely adds mechanisms to prevent normal operation—returning to addresses off the stack and jumping in and out of the wrong places in code—from completing successfully. Failure of CET to do its job only allows normal operation. It doesn't grant the attacker access to more capabilities. Once CET-capable CPUs are available, the protection will work only when the processor is running an operating system with the necessary support. Windows 10 Version 2004 released last month provides that support. Intel still isn’t saying when Tiger Lake CPUs will be released. While the protection could give defenders an important new tool, Ionescu and fellow researcher Yarden Shafir have already devised bypasses for it. Expect them to end up in real-world attacks within the decade. Intel will soon bake anti-malware defenses directly into its CPUs
  22. New Intel chip hides something revolutionary that barely anyone noticed So many pixels driven by such a tiny chip (Image credit: Intel) Intel’s first Lakefield processors, two of which were launched on Wednesday, feel like the start of a new era. Never in the past decade have so many new technologies been packed into a new processor aimed at end-clients (businesses and consumers). In fact, the Core i3 variant is a first in many respects. It's the first x86 processor with five cores, the first to have heterogeneous cores (similar to ARM’s big.LITTLE), the first to use the 3D stacking technology known as Foveros and the first to integrate an 4G/LTE modem. It also has the second lowest per core TDP (average of 1.4W per core) and one of the highest base-to-turbo frequencies in its category, meaning this is one of Intel’s most frugal processors ever. Two other features took a backseat when the processor was announced, but are critical to some of the most fundamental form factor shifts we'll see in personal computers arriving in the next decade. First, this chip can drive up to four 4K displays at 60Hx (i.e. 35.4 megapixels in all) - that’s equivalent to an 8K resolution, which is jaw-droppingly high. An Intel spokesperson confirmed there will be two internal and two external displays, but specific support will depend on the OEM implementation. In other words, the vendors will decide. The second is its support for six cameras in total, with four able to operate at the same time (totalling 48 megapixels). That’s neither an add-on nor an afterthought, but rather an intrinsic part of the fabric of this processor. So, what does that mean in practice? The beginning of a new era Well, a flurry of form factors. Microsoft could fancy having a look at it for a cheaper version of Hololens and plenty of vendors are considering it for ultra light laptops with very long battery lives. We could also see the rise of plug computers - x86 devices that fit in a plug and connect to monitors wirelessly. Assuming laptop vendors follow the same trend as smartphone vendors, we could see the end of low-resolution front facing cameras. Even mid-range smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy A51 or the Huawei P30 Lite have front facing cameras that are far more capable than anything found on laptops. A 32-megapixel selfie camera is perhaps a bit of a stretch, but the new Lakefield processors will deliver significantly better pictures, enhanced by onboard imaging capabilities like HDR. Multiple cameras could also mean the ability to generate virtual, 3D avatars in real time and better facial recognition. The products based on Lakefield processors are likely to be high-end, premium models and it will be interesting to see how they perform, compared to other less expensive but equally frugal processors like the latest 10th generation Ice-Lake processors. New Intel chip hides something revolutionary that barely anyone noticed
  23. Plundering of crypto keys from ultrasecure SGX sends Intel scrambling again Intel's speculative execution flaws go deeper and are harder to fix than we thought. Enlarge Aurich Lawson / Getty 17 with 17 posters participating, including story author For the past two years, modern CPUs—particularly those made by Intel—have been under siege by an unending series of attacks that make it possible for highly skilled attackers to pluck passwords, encryption keys, and other secrets out of silicon-resident memory. On Tuesday, two separate academic teams disclosed two new and distinctive exploits that pierce Intel’s Software Guard eXtension, by far the most sensitive region of the company’s processors. Abbreviated as SGX, the protection is designed to provide a Fort Knox of sorts for the safekeeping of encryption keys and other sensitive data even when the operating system or a virtual machine running on top is badly and maliciously compromised. SGX works by creating trusted execution environments that protect sensitive code and the data it works with from monitoring or tampering by anything else on the system. Key to the security and authenticity assurances of SGX is its creation of what are called enclaves, or blocks of secure memory. Enclave contents are encrypted before they leave the processor and are written in RAM. They are decrypted only after they return. The job of SGX is to safeguard the enclave memory and block access to its contents by anything other than the trusted part of the CPU. Raiding Fort Knox Tuesday’s attacks aren’t the first to defeat SGX. In 2018, a different team of researchers broke into the fortified Intel region after building on an attack known as Meltdown, which, along with a similar attack known as Spectre, ushered in the flurry of processor exploits. A different team of researchers broke SGX earlier this year. Intel mitigated the earlier SGX vulnerability by introducing microcode updates. However, these mitigations did not last, as two new attacks have sent Intel scrambling anew to devise new defenses. Intel released the new updates on Tuesday and expects them to be available to end users in the coming weeks. Depending on the computer, the fix will either be installed automatically or will require manual intervention. Users, particularly those who rely on the SGX, should check with the manufacturer of their machine and ensure that the update is installed as soon as practical. The new SGX attacks are known as SGAxe and CrossTalk. Both break into the fortified CPU region using separate side-channel attacks, a class of hack that infers sensitive data by measuring timing differences, power consumption, electromagnetic radiation, sound, or other information from the systems that store it. The assumptions for both attacks are roughly the same. An attacker has already broken the security of the target machine through a software exploit or a malicious virtual machine that compromises the integrity of the system. While that’s a tall bar, it’s precisely the scenario that SGX is supposed to defend against. Stealing attacker-chosen secrets SGAxe is able to steal large chunks of SGX-protected data of an attacker’s choice. One class of sensitive data is that belonging to the target user—for instance, wallet addresses or other secrets used in financial transactions involving blockchains. The picture on the left immediately below this paragraph shows an image file that was stored in a secure enclave. The one on the right shows the same image after it was extracted using SGAxe. Enlarge van Schaik et al. The attack can just as easily steal cryptographic keys that SGX uses for “attestation,” or the process of proving to a remote server that the hardware is a genuine Intel processor and not a malicious simulation of one. A remote server can require connecting devices to provide these attestation keys before it will carry out financial transactions, play protected videos, or perform other restricted functions. In a paper titled SGAxe: How SGX Fails in Practice, researchers from the University of Michigan and the University of Adelaide in Australia wrote: With the machine’s production attestation keys compromised, any secrets provided by [the] server are immediately readable by the client’s untrusted host application while all outputs allegedly produced by enclaves running on the client cannot be trusted for correctness. This effectively renders SGX-based DRM applications useless, as any provisioned secret can be trivially recovered. Finally, our ability to fully pass remote attestation also precludes the ability to trust any SGX-based secure remote computation protocols. Unfixed for five months SGAxe has its genesis in an earlier attack, called CacheOut, that the same research team (with one additional participant) revealed in January. CacheOut, in turn, is a variation of an attack, disclosed in May 2019, variously known as RIDL, Fallout, ZombieLoad, and Microarchitectural Data Sampling, with each moniker coming from a separate research team that independently discovered underlying flaws. Both CacheOut and SGAxe exploit CVE-2020-0549, a vulnerability that the researchers behind the RIDL attack disclosed as an addendum on January 27, the same date the CacheOut paper was published. RIDL and the other related exploits generally allowed an attacker to read data packets processed by a CPU that they shared with a target. In essence, RIDL is analogous to a glass placed on a wall that allows one apartment dweller to hear what was happening in an adjacent unit. The apartment in this metaphor would be the Intel CPU, while the wall would be the line fill buffer, or a region on the silicon that stores recently accessed data. Just as the wall leaks sound, the buffer leaks timing data that allows attackers to infer the data it contains. Intel never fixed the underlying vulnerability in the silicon. Instead, company engineers issued a microcode update that caused CPUs to overwrite buffer contents with garbage every time the processor began a new security-sensitive operation. CacheOut figured out a way to bypass this mitigation. More potent Besides bypassing the mitigation Intel put in place in 2018, CacheOut introduced a way to make exploits more potent. A limitation of the original RIDL attack is that it allowed attackers to monitor only conversations actively taking place in the adjacent apartment, i.e., access to only the data that was being processed in the hyperthread. There was nothing an attacker could do to access data if it wasn’t being processed in the hyperthread shared by the same CPU core. Using CacheOut, however, an attacker can overcome this constraint. More specifically, in CacheOut the attacker first evicts data of her choice from the cache, a process that on Intel machines sends the data to the line fill buffer, where it can be extracted using RIDL. If RIDL was like using a glass on the wall to listen to a conversation in an adjacent unit, CacheOut was the way the attacker could force the participants to discuss any topic the attacker wanted. SGAxe, in turn, describes a new, more potent use for CacheOut. It uses a memory management scheme known as paging to move enclave data into the L1 cache, where the contents are decrypted. From there, CacheOut moves the data into the buffer, where it’s extracted using the RIDL technique. The Intel spokeswoman said that, once the microcode fix is installed on end-user machines, it will reassign the attestation security keys to account for the possibility of the old ones having leaked. The spokeswoman also said that the severity of any attestation-key exposure can be mitigated when attestation services use the Intel-recommended linkable signature mode to detect fraudulent use of platform keys. She also said that SGAxe and CacheOut have “little to no impact in virtual environments that have applied” a mitigation released in 2018 to protect a different speculative execution flaw known as L1 Terminal Fault. Daniel Genkin, a University of Michigan researcher and one of the co-authors of the SGAxe and CacheOut papers, said linkable signature mode isn’t always practical to use and doesn’t mitigate the threat of leaked attestation keys in all instances. He also disagreed that the L1 Terminal Fault mitigation prevents CacheOut and SGAxe attacks, although he said it made the attacks harder. But wait... there’s also CrossTalk The second SGX attack is notable because it’s based on a previously unknown side channel created by an undocumented buffer that all Intel CPU cores use. This “staging buffer,” as researchers from Vrije University in Amsterdam and ETH Zurich call it, retains the results of previously executed offcore instructions across all CPU cores. Here’s a diagram of how this intercore buffer works: Enlarge Ragab et al. The discovery is highly significant for a couple of reasons. First, the staging buffer retains output from RDRAND and RDSEED, which are among the most sensitive instructions an Intel CPU can carry out because they provide the random numbers needed when generating crypto keys. The diagram below shows how the leak works: Enlarge Ragab et al. Attackers who obtain the random numbers can use them to deduce the key. That finding allowed the researchers to devise a speculative execution attack that extracts a key based on the ECDSA cryptography algorithm as it is generated in an SGX enclave. The first cross-core attack Equally important, the side channel provided by this newly discovered staging buffer allowed the attackers to create the world’s first-known speculative execution attack that works across CPU cores. All previous attacks have worked only when an attacker and a target used the same core. Many defenders took that to mean that allocating trusted and untrusted code to different cores provided meaningful protection against speculative execution attacks, which are also known as transient execution attacks. CrossTalk, as the new exploit has been named, will force researchers and engineers to revisit that assumption. “As an example,” researchers wrote in an email, “many believed disabling Intel SMT (hyperthreading) was sufficient to stop the majority of known/future attacks. Moreover, all attacks so far could be mitigated by simply running mutually non-trusting code on separate cores. We show that the problem goes even deeper and core-based isolation may not be sufficient." In a research paper, the researchers summarized their findings this way: The cryptographically-secure RDRAND and RDSEED instructions turn out to leak their output to attackers via this buffer on many Intel CPUs, and we have demonstrated that this is a realistic attack. We have also seen that, yet again, it is almost trivial to apply these attacks to break code running in Intel’s secure SGX enclaves. Worse, mitigations against existing transient execution attacks are largely ineffective. The majority of current mitigations rely on spatial isolation on boundaries which are no longer applicable due to the cross-core nature of these attacks. New microcode updates which lock the entire memory bus for these instructions can mitigate these attacks—but only if there are no similar problems which have yet to be found. The researchers tested Intel CPUs released from 2015 to 2019 and found evidence that the majority of regular client CPUs, including Xeon E3 series processors, are vulnerable to CrossTalk. Intel said that the server-microarchitecture in the Xeon E5/E7 aren’t vulnerable. The researchers haven’t tested any 10th-generation Core CPUs released this year, but based on information they received from Intel, they believe that some are. Intel’s name for CrossTalk is Special Register Buffer Data Sampling, or SRBDS. In a statement, an Intel spokesman wrote: Special Register Buffer Data Sampling (SRBDS) is similar to previously disclosed transient execution vulnerabilities and does not impact many of our most recently released products, including Intel Atom processors, Intel Xeon Scalable Processor Family and 10th Generation Intel Core processors. For those processors that may be affected, we coordinated with industry partners to release microcode updates that address these vulnerabilities. For more information, please see our developer resources. Intel heal thy CPUs The microcode update fixing this bug locks the entire memory bus before updating the staging buffer and unlocks it only after clearing its content. The strategy behind this change is to ensure no information is exposed to offcore requests made by other CPU cores. Intel is applying the changes only to a select number of security-critical instructions, including RDRAND, RDSEED, and EGETKEY. The researchers say the fix means that output from any other instruction, such as WRMSR, can still be leaked across CPU cores. The takeaway for most users of Intel CPUs is that the vulnerabilities being fixed in the coming weeks could be serious in coming years, but they don’t represent an immediate threat. Risks could be higher in cloud environments that share the same CPU among unrelated customers, but even in these environments there are things skilled engineers can do to mitigate attacks. The larger conclusion from this latest volley of attacks is that the exploits besieging Intel aren’t likely to abate any time soon. With a disproportionate number of vulnerabilities being reported in Intel CPUs, relative to AMD and ARM processors, it’s incumbent on the world’s largest chipmaker to devise a secure development lifecycle that will guide its long-term path. Plundering of crypto keys from ultrasecure SGX sends Intel scrambling again
  24. Intel Lakefield is here, powering the future of computing Intel Lakefield may be the future of portable computing (Image credit: Intel) At CES 2020 it seemed like every laptop manufacturer wanted to show off foldable devices, but wouldn't reveal what was powering them. However, Intel Lakefield processors have now been launched, and will be powering a whole slew of inventive computers. Intel Lakefield will only be behind two announced laptops at first: the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold and the Intel version of the Samsung Galaxy Book S. The former doesn't have an official release date at the time of writing, but Samsung's Lakefield-powered device should be hitting the street this month. It's important to note that these aren't just another processor refresh – this is a completely new chip design. Intel has clearly taken some inspiration from ARM's big.LITTLE architecture: one 10nm Sunny Cove CPU core will be paired with four lower-power Tremont cores. The bigger Sunny Cove core will tackle heavy workloads that need a lot of power, while the Tremont cores will more efficiently tackle background tasks. What's even more impressive is the new Foveros 3D stacking technology, which will essentially stack the entire SoC and memory into one tiny package that measures just 12 x 12 x 1mm, which is basically the size of a dime. This will eliminate the need for RAM to be built into motherboards externally, and will lead to much smaller devices. Coupled with the included Intel LTE solution built into the die, Intel Lakefield is going to be behind the most portable devices we've seen, and we can't wait to get our hands on it. Don't expect a powerhouse The two processors announced as part of Intel Lakefield are the Intel Core i5-L16G7 and the Intel Core i3-L13G4. Both of these processors are 5-core chips with no Hyper Threading, and even the Core i5 has a max single-core speed of 3.0 GHz. Needless to say, hardcore productivity isn't the aim of these processors. In terms of raw performance, these CPUs are almost certainly going to be slower than Intel's Ice Lake processors, and are instead aimed at long battery life and portability. We obviously haven't had a chance to test any device with one of these processors quite yet, but we imagine that these chips will be ideal for folks who need an always-connected device that they can take with them wherever they go, and who only need something powerful enough to do light office work like checking email and loading up some spreadsheets. And, because of the smaller board size that will be enabled by these Intel Lakefield processors, this architecture will be the default for foldable devices, where there is less space available. For instance, when we reviewed the Samsung Galaxy S with the Qualcomm Kryo 495, that laptop weighed in at just 2.12 pounds (0.96kg) and was less than half an inch thick. The obvious benefit with the Intel Lakefield version will be that it will be able to run all Windows apps, as it will support all x64 and x32 programs. So before you go out and preorder a Lakefield-powered device because it is the future of mobile computing, you should seriously consider if it's right for you. If you're a traveling businessperson, it might just be for you. Intel Lakefield is here, powering the future of computing
  25. AMD dominates Intel in CPU sales - at least according to one retailer AMD claimed 83% of sales at Mindfactory (Image credit: Future) Intel's newly-released Comet Lake processors are failing to make a dent in sales of AMD CPUs, according to Mindfactory. New sales data released by the German retailer and spotted by Hexus shows that in the week of June 1 to June 7, it sold 5,270 AMD processors, compared to just 770 Intel CPUs. That sees Team Red outselling its biggest rival by 82% to just 13%, and taking home the lion's share of the revenue; AMD revenues at the Mindfactory came in at €1,106,065 (about $1,248,970, £983,950, AU$1,785,630) (81%), compared to just €246,605 (about $278,490, £219,400, AU$398,120) (18%) from Intel. The best-selling CPU was the AMD Ryzen 5 3600 with some 1,710 units shifted, followed by the AMD Ryzen 7 3700X and two-year-old Ryzen 5 2600, with some 970 and 700 sold, respectively. Though Intel’s newly-released Comet Lake CPUs appear in Mindfactory’s data for the first time, the processors are doing little to challenge AMD's dominance. The Intel Core i7-10700K, for example, sold just 50 units during the seven-day period, while the Intel Core i5-10600K sold a mere 40 units. Team Blue's most popular processor was the Intel Core i7-9700K, which racked up a slightly more respectful sales tally of 170 units. We reached out to Intel for comment about these sales figures, and will update this article if we hear back. Future gazing While these figures are to be taken with a pinch of salt, they suggest that Intel's 10th-generation Comet Lake series has failed to make much of an impact on the market, particularly among PC enthusiasts. Intel will no doubt be hoping that its upcoming 11th-generation Rocket Lake series, which will be based on its upcoming Willow Lake architecture, will do more to shake AMD's dominance, at least in the German market. However, AMD is also gearing up to release its Ryzen 4000 desktop CPUs, which will reportedly be headed up by 16-core successor to the Ryzen 9 3950X. While Willow Cave will continue to be based on 14nm, AMD's Zen 3-based Ryzen 4000 CPUs will use TSMC’s 7nm process and are expected to offer a major performance boost compared to the current Zen 2-based Ryzen 3000 processors. AMD dominates Intel in CPU sales - at least according to one retailer
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