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Intel’s first 10nm Cannon Lake processor debuts after years of delays

CHIPMAKER Intel’s long-delayed 10nm Cannon Lake processors have finally made an official appearance, in the, er, mid-range Lenovo IdeaPad 330. 

Intel’s first 10nm silicon was originally slated for release in late 2016, but technical challenges encountered in shrinking transistors to ever smaller scales led to the launch being delayed until 2017. In its latest Q1 earnings report, the firm confessed that the company was pushing back volume production from the second half of 2018 to some point in 2019 after suffering “yield issues”. 

The firm’s first 10nm chip, the Core i3-8121U was first spotted by  AnandTech in Lenovo Ideapad 330 laptops at Chinese retailers, and Intel has since published details about the processor on its ARK catalogue

This listing confirms that the Core i3-8121U a Cannon Lake 10nm process chip, while the use of “i3” and “8” in the name confirms it’s a low-specification, 8th-generation chip (just like Intel’s Kaby Lake-R, Kaby Lake-G, and Coffee Lake processors), destined for use in mid-range notebook devices.

The i3-821U’s specs add further weight to this. It’s a dual-core processor with four threads, a base clock speed of 2.2GHz, (rising to 3.2GHz under Turbo Boost), 4MB of cache, a TDP of 15W, and support for up to 32GB memory. 

The Cannon Lake chip also supports two new kinds of memory: LPDDR4 and LPDDR4X, both low-power variants of DDR4. 

Intel’s listing doesn’t include a description of the chip’s integrated graphics, suggesting that, er, there aren’t any. Lenovo’s Ideapad 330 for China, the first device to come powered by the entry-level CPU, is listed to include a discrete AMD graphics chip. 

While the i3-8121U isn’t the most exciting of chips, Intel will no doubt be relieved that it’s finally got a 10nm product to market after years of delays. 

Still, the firm remains a long way behind its rivals. AMD has already confirmed that it plans to run its second and third generation Zen architecture x86 microprocessors on 7nm, while TSMC has already started production of its first 7nm silicon. µ

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