The new ‘Ice Lake’ flowing from Intel is filled with 9th-generation processors

Ice Lake

The lakes keep flowing from Intel. The company is introducing its eighth-generation “Coffee Lake” desktop processors on Monday as the solar eclipse blazes across the United States. They will follow Intel’s seventh-generation “Kaby Lake” and its sixth-generation “Skylake” processors. After that, Intel’s “Cannonlake” chips will be compacted versions of its coffee-charged eighth-generation chips hitting the market during the next nine months. Now another lake has bubbled to the surface: Ice Lake.

For starters, these are all code names for processor designs. They make individual CPU designs easy to remember, and Intel evidently understands this by sticking to lake-based names as of late. Its unannounced CPU design, “Ice Lake,” is officially listed on the company’s website, and is apparently Intel’s upcoming ninth-generation processor design based on 10nm+ process technology. According to Intel, it is the successor to its eighth-generation design.

We already know the processors making their debut will be based on the Coffee Lake-S design, which targets mainstream performance desktops using the Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 branding. This family will finally introduce a six-core processor to the mainstream market along with a handful of upgrades from the previous generation.

After that, the company will continue to roll out Coffee Lake until the end of the year, and throughout the first quarter of 2018. Coffee Lake-H chips will target notebooks with high-end graphics (like gaming notebooks), Coffee Lake-U chips will appear in thin-and-light notebooks, and Coffee Lake-Y chips will be installed in tablets and 2-in-1 detachables. Coffee Lake-X will likely surface this time in 2018 for the enthusiast desktop crowd.

All of these coffee-injected chips will be based on a revision/optimization of 14nm process technology, which is a method of shrinking transistors and shoving them into a small package. But Intel is shrinking its Coffee Lake architecture even more by using 10nm process technology and calling the resulting design Cannonlake. Chips based on this CPU are not expected to arrive until the end of 2017 or early 2018 and will begin a new stage of Intel’s “Processor Architecture Optimization” model. That essentially means Intel will release three generations of processors using the same manufacturing process.

That brings us to Ice Lake. Because Cannonlake will be the first 10nm processor and a reduced version of Coffee Lake, Intel’s ninth-generation Ice Lake chips will be the second release and based on a refined version of the 10nm process technology.

Are all of Intel’s lakes confusing? Here is a chart to help:

Code-name Generation Process Node Release Date
Skylake 6th 14nm August 2015
Kaby Lake 7th 14nm August 2016
Coffee Lake 8th 14nm+ August 2017
Cannonlake 8th 10nm Early 2018
Ice Lake 9th 10nm+ August 2018

In the case of Cannonlake, Intel did something similar in the past. Intel shrunk its 22nm fourth-generation Haswell processor design (2013) using 14nm process technology. Ultimately called Broadwell (2014), the resulting processors did not completely replace the fourth-generation products, but merely provided additional powerful options for the performance desktop space. The Core i3/i5/i7 models were marketed as fifth-generation chips while the Celeron, Pentium, and Xeon chips were not.