Intel Foveros is a ‘hybrid x86 architecture’ that pairs Core with Atom

Intel answers Qualcomm's new PC processors by pairing Core and Atom in 'Foveros'

Intel Raja Koduri
Raja Koduri, Senior Vice President of Intel Architecture and Graphics Solutions

Intel has confirmed that it’s working on a discrete graphics solution for “client PCs,” which will arrive in 2020. That, however, is far from all Intel is working on.

The company laid out its long-term architecture plans at an ‘Architecture Day’ event attended by Digital Trends. There, Raja Koduri, senior vice president of Intel architecture and graphics solutions, explained Intel’s new goal. “10 petaflops of data, 10 petabytes of compute, less than 10 milliseconds away.”

That’s an ambitious goal, and Intel believes it can only be achieved by moving into an era of hardware design that Intel calls the “architecture era.” Koduri went so far as to say “the next 10 years will see more architecture advancement than the last 50 years.”

To help achieve this, Intel has announced a new packaging design called Foveros, coming next year.

Intel says the first Foveros package is 12 millimeters by 12 millimeters in size – smaller than a dime – built on a 10-nanometer production process. It will offer performance in league with existing Core hardware but have a standby power draw of only two milliwatts. These traits make it suitable for a very broad range of tablets and laptops (no, it doesn’t appear Intel intends to target smartphones).

Foveros is a “hybrid x86 architecture” that will use both Core and Atom architectures in tandem. In other words, it takes a “big core, little core” strategy like that used by many chip designs targeting smartphones. Here, the “big core” hardware is based on the Core architecture, which offers best performance, while the “little core” uses Atom hardware, offering optimal power efficiency in low-demand and idle use. The goal is to offer all-day battery life (up to 25 hours, in fact), with one month of standby power, without sacrificing performance.

If those battery life claims sound familiar, it might be because they’re in line with what Qualcomm’s Snapdragon promises for Windows 10 laptops. Intel’s not promising LTE connectivity, as Qualcomm does, but the aim to drastically improve endurance, both active and standby, seems a clear response to potential Qualcomm competition.

It’s important to note that Intel is calling Foveros a “packaging technology.” In other words, it’s not a specific architecture, and it’s not a specific product line. It’s instead a way of building a “system-on-a-package” that Intel might use for a wide variety of hardware in the future. In fact, we don’t yet have any retail product names for the products that will be built using the technology, and we don’t know exactly what devices they might appear in – though Intel did show unbranded images of laptops and tablets as part of its demonstration.

That means Foveros isn’t a new branch of architecture. Intel’s roadmap for CPU architecture still focuses on advancement of both Core and Atom over the next five years. Foveros is not a change to those plans, but instead a new way to implement them. While Intel made no specific announcements about branding, what we saw heavily suggested the company will continue to use the Core and Atom slogans on products.

Still, it represents a shift in strategy for Intel. With Foveros, the most important element is not necessarily the speed of each individual chip on the package, but instead the speed of all elements working together in each specific use case. Jim Keller, Intel’s senior vice president and general manager of the silicon engineering group, said it shifts the question Intel must answer. “Instead of compute and transistors being key pillars,” he said, “What if it was memory and security?”

You might have questions about what this will mean in practice, and while Foveros is slated for 2019, specific answers are few. We don’t yet know any devices this technology might appear in, or a final name for the shipping product. We expect to hear answers to these questions next month at CES 2019.


Laptop displays are notorious for draining batteries. Intel may have a solution

Intel has leveraged smartphone display technology and a handful of other innovations to create Low Power Display Technology (LPDT) panels that cut display power use in half.

Intel Command Center lays foundation for next year’s ‘Arctic Sound’ GPU

Intel revealed its new Command Center driver software at GDC 2019. The updated interface will control current Intel integrated graphics and also lays the groundwork for next year's Intel video card.

Intel teases mobile 9th-generation Core i9 mobile processors at GDC 2019

Intel teased its new 9th-generation Intel Core i9 processors at GDC 2019. The company offered few specifics about the hardware, but a leak from late February provides insight into what the new processors might offer.

Intel’s next-gen Comet Lake processors will reportedly arrive with 10 cores

Intel may give its next-generation desktop processor, known by its Comet Lake code name, a maximum of 10 cores, according to code found within the company's Linux drivers. Laptop CPUs will reportedly top out with six cores.

Changing a PDF into an EPUB file is easier than you might think

If you like to read on a tablet or ebook reader, you'll find that ePUB files offer a number of advantages over PDFs. With this guide, we'll show you how to convert a PDF to EPUB in a few quick steps.

Confused about RSS? Don't be. Here's what it is and how to use it

What is an RSS feed, anyway? This traditional method of following online news is still plenty useful. Let's take a look at what RSS means, and what advantages it has in today's busy world.

This limited-time Dell deal cuts $330 off the price of the XPS 15

Dell is currently running a limited-time sale that is cutting the pricing on the XPS 15 down by $330, but only through Thursday, March 21, and with the use of a special coupon code. 

Here are the best affordable monitors for your budget desktop

Looking for the best budget monitors? These monitors are affordable, but still provide the features you need for gaming, work, home or other plans! Take a look at the displays and your wallet will thank you.

Google hit with another fine by the EU, this time for $1.7 billion

Google has been fined for the third time by the EU, this time for breaching antitrust laws by requiring third-party websites using its search function to prioritize its ads over competitors.

If you have $5,200, Apple has 256GB of RAM for your iMac Pro

Professionals looking to run intensive applications will be able to push their work a bit further with Apple's latest iMac Pro, which holds 256GB of DD4 ECC RAM for $5,200. Here's why it costs so much to upgrade your iMac Pro to the top.

Don’t be fooled! Study exposes most popular phishing email subject lines

Phishing emails are on the rise and a new study out by the cybersecurity company Barracuda has exposed some of the most common phishing email subject lines used to exploit businesses. 

From Air to Pro, here are the best MacBook deals for March 2019

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.
Product Review

The Lenovo Legion Y740 brings RTX 2080 graphics power for under $2,500

Coming with the Intel Core i7-8750H processor, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD, the Legion Y740 one big beast. But priced at under $2,500 how does Lenovo’s Legion stand up against the crowd?

Oculus shows off the Rift S, plans to phase out its original VR headset

Oculus plans to phase out its flagship Rift VR headset for its newly created Rift S. The Rift S made its debut this week at the 2019 Game Developers Conference and is expected to be released in spring 2019.