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Intel CES 2021 highlights: New laptop processors, desktop CPUs, and more

This year at CES, Intel kicked off the 2021 trade show with not one but two press conferences. The company started the day off by showing off its latest advancements in autonomous driving made by its Mobileye division.

The second presentation later in the day was focused on Intel’s latest processors. Intel unveiled a number of new processors for business, education, and gaming, and the star of the show is the company’s H-series CPU for mobile gaming.

Below is everything Intel has announced at CES 2021 so far. You can also see how Intel and AMDs announcement compare.

Intel’s processor announcements

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Intel’s afternoon keynote was dedicated entirely to the company’s processors.

“We live in a world where computing is now pervasive,” Bryant said in kicking off Intel’s processor presentation at CES this year. “Computers are no longer just a PC or a server. They’re the network, the hospital, the city, or even the car and computing is at the heart of everything we do at Intel.”

Since the launch of 11th-Gen, Intel announced that it has more than 120 mobile designs and more than 50 Intel Evo-certified laptops that meet the company’s rigorous standards for battery life, performance, and reliability from partners like Dell, HP, and Lenovo.

“Only Intel has the breadth of products spanning multiple architectures,” Bryant added to highlight the company’s uniqueness against rising challenges from competitors, including AMD, Apple, Qualcomm, and others. The company also announced it has started shipments of its 10nm Ice Lake processors for servers.

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In response to business needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, Intel launched its new business-specific processors with the company’s vPro platform that builds upon the strengths of its 11th-Gen mobile processors. To date, there are more than 200 million vPro systems deployed worldwide that focus on security, manageability, and business-class performance — even in remote work environments.

Intel announced that its next-gen business processors are powered by the 11th-Gen platform with vPro. The new vPro systems provide the best productivity experience, with up to 23% faster productivity with Office 365 and 50% faster productivity with video conferencing, according to Intel executives. It also delivers 1.8x faster video editing. Intel also demonstrated its Control Enforcement Technology or CET as a strength of its system that can help block a control flow attack, something that a competing notebook from rival AMD was unable to do.

“Only the Intel vPro platform delivers the world’s most comprehensive hardware-based security,” the company stated.

The second business platform is the Intel Evo vPro platform, combining the thin and light form factors of Evo with the security and productivity of vPro, Intel claimed.

“Simply put, Intel Evo vPro is built for what companies need and what employees want,” Intel said.

The company showed off laptops from Dell, HP, and Lenovo. Intel highlighted the Latitude 9420 as a result of its Dell partnership for Evo vPro.

“We’ve built these new experiences with our customers’ needs in mind,” Intel stated.

Intel highlighted vPro’s hardware-based security as part of its announcement, noting that security extends beyond just software.

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In education, Intel announced new Intel Pentium Silver and Celeron processors that are designed for the first time on 10nm nodes. The processors, according to the company, deliver up to 35% faster gen-on-gen performance. This means faster rendering and productivity for the education market. The chips will be headed to Chrome, Windows, and Linux laptops this year, Intel executives stated. Along with integrated graphics, faster Wi-Fi 6 support will also be part of Intel’s education experience.

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The company also highlighted its $1 billion investment the past 15 years as well as showcasing a new partnership with Grammy Award-winning musician Chance the Rapper and its collaboration with the Social Works Foundation.

Beyond work and education, Intel also wants to help people stay entertained and connected.

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Intel announced its latest chipset with up to 4.8GHz frequencies, support for A.I., and Thunderbolt 4 support. Compared to an AMD R7 processor, Intel claimed that its four-core CPU coupled with A.I. can speed through workloads 1.3 times faster than the competitor’s eight-core system.

Intel announced new 11th-Gen core processors for Chromebooks, with options for the Intel Evo platform. It claimed 2.5x faster performance than last year’s 10th-Gen core on Chrome OS. The company also showed off a new Chromebook powered by 11th-Gen from Acer. Intel is also bringing Evo certification to Chromebooks for thin-and-light Chrome OS laptops. The company showed off a Chromebook powered by 11th-Gen from Acer.

Intel also talked about its new desktop S-Series processors with new core architecture that supports new A.I. capabilities, 20 PCIe 4 lanes.

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“We continue to see our gaming community grow and strengthen,” Intel said. “In the last year alone, we’ve seen an incredible increase in gaming hours upwards of 60%. We’re going to continue to fuel that growth with exciting new 11th Gen Intel Core processors across desktops and laptops that elevate gaming performance.”

The company previewed its S series desktop processor last year, and the CPU delivered IPC gains of 14% gen-on-gen.

Intel also announced a new ultra-portable gaming processor — the four-core H-series processors. With Nvidia GPUs, you’ll get a laptop as thin as 16mm, Intel stated.

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Speeds up to 5.0GHz, PCIe 4 support off the GPU, and 4K gaming are possible with this combination, the company said, while highlighting Wi-Fi 6 and Thunderbolt 4 technologies. Acer, Asus, MSI, and more will launch devices with Intel’s mobile gaming platform.

Intel showed off Destiny 2 at 4K on laptops at 4K resolution running at high settings. The company claimed the game played buttery-smooth but did not provide specifics about frame rates at this time.

“This level of performance is simply unheard of on an extremely thin and ultra-portable solution,” Intel boasted.

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Intel also announced an eight-core H-series mobile processor that’s clocked at 5GHz for what it calls desktop-caliber gameplay in a laptop. The processor is coming later this year, Intel’s Chris Walker said.

“This is unique in the industry because it’s optimized for the true mobile enthusiast, with features that you normally only find in high-end desktop systems coding reaching speeds up to 5 GHz across multiple cores,” Walker added. “It includes support for PCIe Gen 4 architecture with 20 lanes to the CPU. This is going to give you the flexibility and powers of the fastest storage and graphics available today, providing close to 40 gigabytes a second, which is five times more CPU-attached bandwidth than any other laptop platform outside of our own 10th-Gen core family.”

The processor is codenamed Tiger Lake H.

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Intel also previewed its new Alder Lake desktop and mobile processors, which use a hybrid architecture combining high-performance and high-efficiency cores. It’s built on 10nm SuperFIN, Bryant said, with faster transistors and improved capacitors.

Alder Lake is coming to market in the second half of 2021.

“What we show today is our vision, coming to life through execution,” Bryant proudly proclaimed of the company’s latest processors. “Today we announced four new families of processors from entry to premium, including 27 new CPUs built specifically for business, six new CPUs for education, 12 high-end performance mobile CPUs, and eight high-end desktop CPUs for consumers. These results in more than 500 new designs for mobile and desktop PCs, coming to market in 2021. ”

In addition to all the latest news from Intel, be sure to also follow Digital Trends’ CES 2021 hub, where we will have all the latest tech news and announcements from the show, along with hands-on sessions with products and in-depth analysis.

Mobileye announcements

Mobileye autonomous car testing in Munich
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Intel’s morning CES session was purely dedicated to its autonomous driving endeavors through the company’s Mobileye unit. The news conference was headlined by Mobileye‘s CEO and Intel SVP Amnon Shashua.

“Mobileye is a growth engine for the company, and Intel is fully committed to the business,” Shashua said of the unit giving Intel’s press conference this year.

Mobileye is boosting its scale of testing. Shashua talked about driving policy algorithms and building out high definition maps as factors that affect scalability. The company believes that its driving policy is now transferrable, so it can enter new markets for testing. Now, after five years, the company feels that it can build production maps at scale.

With COVID -19 ravaging the planet, the company said it had adapted its business model to scale in order to enter new markets. Rather than building an entirely new facility, Shashua said that Mobileye was able to ship a vehicle — in two weeks with two field employees — set it up, and start demonstrating to OEM partners in Munich, Germany.

“This gave us the feeling that now we can scale,” he said. The company wants to expand to Shanghai, Tokyo, New York, and Detroit, among other places globally.

Mobileye said that it measures failure rates in terms of hours of driving. In the U.S., you get a crash about every 500,000 miles. This is about one out of about 50,000 hours of driving.

With 50,000 cars, this means that every hour, on average, we’ll have an accident that is our fault based on human driving. But with autonomous driving, this isn’t acceptable — it has to be better. So Mobileye developed a redundancy system to help mitigate crashes for a level four system.

Cameras, radars, and lidar help to create that redundant system for autonomous driving, Shashua said.

“From a technological point of view, it’s so crucial to do the hard work,” he said. It’s not about just the radars and lidars. The company approaches autonomous driving by building an end-to-end camera system first, and then by adding the radar and lidar as redundant systems.

Mobileye is also building a level two system for Chinese markets. Since it’s a camera-based system, it would be affordable for consumers, the company stated. And that’s the path that Mobileye is taking to monetize its efforts before reaching level four reliability.

The company believes that consumer autonomous vehicles will take some time, so it wants to tackle robo taxis first. The robo taxi will be built with Luminar Lidars and no cameras, but the cameras will be added before launch.

Come 2025, Mobileye is looking at the next-generation of lidars called FMCW. Intel has an advantage in this area, Shashua said, with photonics with active and passive layers on chips.

On the radar side, the company is targeting imaging radar, which has higher resolution and is software-defined rather than analog-defined.

And as technologies mature, Shashua believes that we’ll have affordable level four consumer autonomous vehicles by 2025.

Shashua claimed that its Responsibility Sensitivity Safety (RSS) framework is one of the company’s top achievements because society will not accept any lapse of judgment with a computer. With autonomous vehicles, it has to behave with human judgment because it will interact with humans. And the idea of being careful — yielding when you don’t have the right of way — isn’t mathematically defined. With RSS, it defines mathematically what it means to “be careful” when driving. The framework takes the worst-case scenario based on the assumptions that have been defined with regulators. It’s a rule-based kind of thinking to define what is reckless and what is careful, Shashua said. The theory has to be fully transparent.

“RSS is one of our crown jewels of achievement, and we deliberately made it transparent,” Shashua said. In essence, RSS gave Mobileye a calculus of human behavior while driving, which extends beyond red lights and speed limits.

In building a perception system, the bottleneck is understanding all the risks and the semantics of the road, not identifying people or objects on the road. It’s about understanding priorities on the path to determine who needs to yield, Shashua said. “It’s so detailed that the probability of not making a mistake in a single path is almost unachievable.”

By piecing information from multiple cars, the company realized that it can do better than any data collected from a single car. This is called building a map — not the navigational map from Google Maps, but data from cars. This is what Mobileye defined as its REM technology, or Road Experience Management. The company wants to collect low data bandwidth and do the hard work, as detailed high bandwidth data would be costly to upload, and OEM partners may not want to invest in that bandwidth. Data collection isn’t about event recording, he said. This is about limiting the complexities.

The company has nearly 1 million vehicles from six car OEMs collecting and sending data to the cloud today with worldwide coverage that’s global and scalable.

Intel completed its acquisition of the company in 2017 at an estimated enterprise value of $14.7 billion.

“The acquisition couples the best-in-class technologies from both companies, including Intel’s high-performance computing and connectivity expertise and Mobileye’s leading computer vision expertise to create automated driving solutions from the cloud through the network to the car,” the companies said at the time.

The acquisition has allowed Intel to make a serious pitch as a self-driving platform and expand beyond just computing. In this space, it will have to compete against technologies developed by Google’s Waymo and Nvidia Drive platforms.

Intel and Nvidia are finding themselves competing against each other in more ways in recent years — Intel’s entry into the graphics processor space is also encroaching on an area dominated by Nvidia’s GeForce RTX graphics cards. Most recently, and ahead of CES 2021, automaker Nio announced that it is working with Nvidia on that company’s Drive platform to bring advanced autonomous driving capabilities to the market.

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