On Monday, August 21, Intel plans to unveil its 8th-generation Core processors. But it may have also unveiled one member of its 9th – generation Core family: Ice Lake.
A terse note on the company’s website describes the new technology: “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.”
For years, Intel moved on what it called a “tick-tock” cadence, launching a chip on a new process technology, then redesigning it for faster performance around a new architecture. Intel’s Broadwell chips introduced the 14nm generation in 2014 and 2015, followed by the Skylake generation in 2015 and 2016. But then Intel unexpectedly added a third 14nm chip, Kaby Lake , and made plans to launch a fourth 14nm chip, believed to be called “Coffee Lake , ” on August 21.
Intel’s disclosure, though, skips ahead in its roadmap. Following Coffee Lake, Intel is expected to launch “Cannon Lake,” another member of the 8th-generation Core family, and the first 10nm chip on its roadmap. Ice Lake’s more advanced position is indicated by the “+” sign in the “10nm+” description: With Skylake and Kaby Lake, Intel began to use the “+” sign as an indicator that the process technology had been slightly tweaked to improve it.
Will Ice Lake be the first member of Intel’s 9th-generation Core family? Possibly, or possibly not. Now that Intel has apparently discarded its tick-tock model and started combining processor redesigns with some small tweaks to the process itself, what Intel’s next-next chip is called becomes slightly irrelevant.
What this means for you: With Intel’s formal disclosure of its Ice Lake chip, we now have three official points of reference for what’s next: Coffee Lake , the 14nm, 8th-generation Core chip that will be announced next week; Cannon Lake , the 10nm Core chip that Intel showed off at CES, and now Ice Lake, a 10nm+ chip that will debut sometime later. Have we seen all the chips Intel has up its sleeve? Maybe not, but we now have more to talk about.