Skip to main content

Intel’s 10nm CPU finally makes it to retail in a refreshed Lenovo IdeaPad laptop

Image used with permission by copyright holder

A laptop now listed in Asia is one of the first to sport Intel’s 10nm “Cannon Lake” processor. More specifically, it’s the unannounced Intel Core i3-8121U that just appeared in the company’s database sporting two cores with a base speed of 2.20GHz and a maximum speed of 3.20GHz. Both listings reveal that Intel’s 10nm processors are finally beginning to emerge on the market. 

Intel first teased its 10nm processor at the beginning of 2017, packing it into a superthin 2-in-1 device. Products were scheduled to roll out later that year, but the launch never happened. Intel instead pushed back its Cannon Lake rollout until 2018 due to manufacturing difficulties stemming from the 10nm process. The smaller the processor components, the more problematic the manufacturing process becomes, producing a higher number of defective chips. 

Don’t expect a massive flood of Cannon Lake-based devices in 2018. Production is low volume for now until Intel gets a handle on the 10nm process to produce “acceptable” yields. According to the company’s first-quarter financial results for 2018, Intel shifted its “volume” production of 10nm chips to 2019. Meanwhile, the company will continue to make optimizations to its 14nm process technology. 

Technically, Intel’s Cannon Lake processor is a reduced version (aka, die shrink) of its optimized seventh-generation “Kaby Lake” design but falls within the company’s eighth-generation family of CPUs. Surprisingly, there’s no onboard graphics component, thus laptops will need a discrete graphics chip. The laptop listed in Asia relies on AMD’s Radeon RX 540 GPU with 2GB of GDDR5 memory dedicated to graphics. 

The notebook in question is a refreshed Lenovo IdeaPad 330-15 sporting a 15.6-inch TN screen with a 1,366 x 768 resolution. Backing Intel’s CPU is 4GB of system memory (1x slot supporting up to 8GB), a 500GB hard drive spinning at 5,400RPM, and an optical drive. 

As for other ingredients, the laptop’s port complement includes HDMI, two USB-A ports, one USB-C port, a gigabit Ethernet port, a headphone/microphone combo jack, and an SD card reader. Connectivity consists of Wireless AC networking and a Bluetooth component. All of this relies on a battery promising a mere two to five hours. 

The Cannon Lake-powered device measures 0.90 inches thick and weighs around 5.5 pounds, which isn’t quite the thin-and-light form factor we were expecting. It’s currently listed for around $449 in Asia, but there’s no ship date for the device just yet. 

Intel started 2018 with its third wave of eighth-generation Coffee Lake processors, adding new desktop and laptop variants in April, including Intel’s first six-core Core i9 mobile chip. The next processor launch will still remain under the eighth-generation banner code-named Whiskey Lake. These four-core chips replace the first wave of eighth-generation processors launched in August 2017 and will be followed by desktop CPUs for enthusiasts code-named Cascade Lake-X before the end of the year. 

Given the Core i3-8121U is an eighth-generation chip, the Cannon Lake family should be the last of Intel’s eighth-generation lineup in 2019. They will be succeeded by Intel’s ninth-generation “Ice Lake” 10nm processor lineup. 

Editors' Recommendations

Kevin Parrish
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kevin started taking PCs apart in the 90s when Quake was on the way and his PC lacked the required components. Since then…
Intel’s first 35-watt gaming processors are built on 10nm Tiger Lake
everything intel announced at ces 2021 gregory bryant 1

Intel has announced a new line of gaming processors, which it calls Tiger Lake H35, at CES 2021. The reason for the name? They are part of its H-series of more powerful laptop chips, but only at a 35-watt power envelope.

These are Intel's first 10nm gaming parts, which shows that the company can scale up its 10nm process for more powerful computers. Until today, the 10nm architecture has been used exclusively by U-series, 15-watt thin-and-light laptops -- though technically, those chips can scale up to 28 watts.

Read more
Intel: Alder Lake chips to launch later in 2021 with ‘enhanced 10nm SuperFin’
Former Intel CEO Bob Swan at a presentation.

Intel has a new generation of desktop chips launching at CES 2021, also known as Rocket Lake-S. However, the company is already talking about its replacement, which is set to come as early as the second half of 2021. It's possible that Rocket Lake will only be in circulation for a few months before attention will shift toward Alder Lake-S, its successor.

Why the quick turnaround? Well, Alder Lake is an incredibly important launch for Intel. The company's transition to 10nm has been a long and arduous roll-out. It started in 2019 with the launch of Ice Lake, the company's first 10nm chips. The release was limited to thin-and-light laptops with 15-watt TDPs. Only now are we seeing the 10nm node being used in 35-watt H-series gaming laptops, with 45-watt chips on the near horizon.

Read more
Lenovo takes on M1-powered MacBooks with its own ARM-based IdeaPad 5G
lenovo ideapad 5g qualcomm snapdragon 8cx ces 2021

After being an early adopter of Qualcomm's Snapdragon chipsets on its Windows notebooks, Lenovo is upping the ante at CES 2021. While Lenovo is continuing to support Microsoft's Windows on ARM efforts, it's also now embracing 5G mobile coverage on the new IdeaPad 5G -- one of the best new laptops at CES this year.

Like Lenovo's previous Yoga C630 Snapdragon-powered clamshell, the IdeaPad 5G features strong battery life -- this notebook is rated for 20 hours of continuous video playback -- and a fan-less design with a thin-and-light form factor. The IdeaPad 5G this year will be powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 8cx 5G compute platform and feature Adreno 680 integrated graphics, a Snapdragon X55 modem, and 4G LTE support in areas where 5G signals aren't yet available. Where 5G is present, Lenovo claims that large files can download up to 10 times faster than over LTE.

Read more