In This Article
What is Ice Lake Processor?
The term Ice Lake signifies the codename of the 3rd generation Xeon and 10th generation server Intel mobile processors. These processors are typically built on the Sunny Cove microarchitecture.
Technically, the Ice Lake CPUs refer to the Process Architecture Optimization, or PAO model, which is produced on the 2nd generation 10 nm manufacturing process of Intel.
- The Ice Lake CPUs are considered to be the second microarchitecture manufactured by Intel on the 10 nm process after the Cannon Lake limited edition launched in 2018.
- Intel released the specifications for Ice Lake U and Ice Lake Y processors on August 1, 2019.
- The Sunny Cove based Xeon Scalable processors were launched on April 6, 2021 and there are no high-performance Ice Lake mobile CPUs or desktop processors.
- The PCIe, or Peripheral Component Interconnect Express, Gen 4 offers double the bandwidth speed in comparison to the previous generations.
- The Intel Optane Persistent Memory 200 Series, along with Intel Optane SSD support, helps in leveraging memory and storage systems.
Understanding Ice Lake Processor
The Ice Lake processors are designed by the Intel design team in Haifa, Israel, and are based on the Sunny Cove microarchitecture.
These processors typically focus on scalability and single-thread performance improvements using new instructions.
As said earlier, the Intel Ice Lake processors come in different variants, such as the Intel Ice Lake U and Y series, or the client variant, and the Ice Lake SP and X series, or the server class CPUs.
The CPU or Central Processing Unit of the Intel Ice Lake processors comes with Sunny Cove cores that offer the following:
- Increased Instructions Per Cycle (IPC) running at the same memory and frequency configuration
- Dynamic Tuning 2.0 to stay longer at Turbo frequencies
- Hardware acceleration allows for better Secure Hash Algorithms (SHA) operations
- Intel Deep Learning Boost allow AI/ML inference acceleration
- PCI Express 4.0 support on Ice Lake SP
The Intel Ice Lake processor is a package that is complete with the following:
- 10 nm transistors
- Memory controller with LPDDR4X 3733 and DDR4 3200 support
- Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) integrated support
- Thunderbolt 3 support
On the Ice Lake SP processors, the features allow higher performance with reference to the Gen 1 processors with improvements in AI inference, which helps in image classification.
Some of the notable features of this specific processor are as follows:
- Built-in AI acceleration and Intel Deep Learning Boost that helps in its performance, even with flexible configurations
- Intel Speed Select Technology (SST) that offers more flexibility, efficiency, and agility to meet performance goals and cost optimization with better total cost of ownership
- Intel Resource Director Technology (RDT) that allows better monitoring and control of shared resources to offer better Quality of Service
- Intel Software Guard Extensions (SGX) that offer better and more advanced security to reduce the attack surface and prevent snooping, theft of sensitive data, and offer protection in trusted enclaves and confidence in edge server implementations
- Intel Total Memory Encryption (TME) that protects data with complete physical encryption of memory
The Intel Ice Lake server processors can be considered as next-generation processors designed to support next-generation projects.
It offers improved expandability since it allows attaching more peripherals. This eventually helps in optimizing performance and the total cost of ownership as well.
A few other specifications of the top-line SP processors worth noting are summarized as follows:
- Up to 28 cores per socket in the in the Internet of Things or IoT SKUs
- Multi-socket support
- Up to 3 Ultra Path Interconnect or UPI channels in each CPU
- Intel 3D NAND SSDs and Intel Optane SSDs validation
- PCI Express 4 support with up to 64 lanes per socket with a transfer speed of 16 GT/s
- DIMM or Dual Inline Memory Module support for up to 3200 MT/s
- Double Data Rate Dual Inline Memory Module (DDR4 DIMM) support of 16 GB and up to 256 GB
- Maximum memory capacity of up to 6 TB per socket in select SKUs
- Thermal Design Power (TDP) ranging between 105 watts and 205 watts
A notable aspect of the Ice Lake client processors includes the implementation of Intel Gen11 graphics.
There is an increased number of execution units, up to 64 from 24, which is up to 48 in the case of the Gen 9.5 graphics.
This helps in attaining an excess of 1 TFLOPS or Tera Floating Point Operations Per Second of computing performance.
Each of these execution units supports seven threads, which means that it offers up to 512 parallel pipelines.
There is a 3 MB L3 cache that feeds these execution units, which is four times more in comparison to the previous generation.
It also has an improved memory bandwidth, which is enabled by Low-Power Double Data Rate Extended (LPDDR4X) on low-power mobile platforms.
In addition to that, the Gen 11 graphics also incorporates some other useful features that add to its performance such as:
- Tile-based rendering
- Coarse Pixel Shading (CPS)
- Variable Rate Shading (VRS)
- High Efficiency Video Coding with two 10-bit encoding pipelines
- Two 4K 60 Hz RGB/Y′CBCR 4:4:4 streams at the same time
- One 8K 30 Hz Y′CBCR 4:2:2
- 4K at 120 Hz support
- 5K and 8K display output
- DisplayPort 1.4a support, along with Display Stream Compression (DSC)
- HDMI 2.0b
- Integer and nearest neighbor image scaling
- Intel Quick Sync Video with VP9 8-bit and 10-bit hardware encoding for every supported platform
- 4th generation Intelligence Processing Unit (IPU) to process data for specially designed Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning
Therefore, there are some variations in some of the design aspects of the Ice Lake server and client class processors.
If you are confused, here are the basic physical and technical differences between the two summarized for your better understanding.
- Launched – In April 2021
- Maximum CPU clock rate – Up to 3.7 GHz
- Level 1 cache size – 80 KB per core, split into 32 for instructions and 48 for data
- Level 2 cache – Shared and measures up to 50 MB
- Level 3 cache – Also shared and measures up to 60 MB
- Technology node – Intel 10 nm with Tri Gate transistors
- Architecture and Instructions – x86-64
- Microarchitecture – Sunny Cove
- Cores – Up to 40
- Socket – Land Grid Array or LGA 4189
- Brand names – Intel Xeon Gold, Intel Xeon Silver, Intel Xeon Platinum, and Intel Xeon W
- Predecessor – 14 nm Cascade Lake
- Successor – 14 nm Cooper Lake for 4S/8S systems of the same generation and Sapphire Rapids of the next generation
- Launched – September 2019
- Maximum CPU clock rate – Up to 4.1 GHz
- Level 1 cache – 80 KB per core, used as 32 for instructions and 48 for data
- Level 2 cache – 512 KB per core
- Level 3 cache – Shared and measures up to 8 MB
- Technology node – Intel 10 nm with Tri Gate transistors
- Architecture and instructions – x86-64
- Microarchitecture – Sunny Cove
- Cores – 2, 4
- GPU – Gen11
- Socket – Ball Grid Array or BGA 1526
- Brand names – Intel Core i3, Core i5, and Intel Core i7
- Predecessor – 10 nm Cannon Lake and 14 nm Whiskey Lake
- Successor – 14 nm Comet Lake of the same generation and 10 nm Tiger Lake of the next generation.
Ice Lake vs Comet Lake
- The cores of the Intel Ice Lake processors can attain a maximum clock speed to 4.1 GHz. On the other hand, the maximum clock speed that can be attained by the cores of the Intel Comet Lake processors is up to 5.3 GHz.
- The Level 1 cache size of the Intel Ice Lake processors is 80 KB per core, where 32 is for instructions and 48 for data in both client and server class variants, but in comparison, the Level 1 cache size of the Comet Lake processors is 64 KB per core.
- The Level 2 cache size of the Intel Ice Lake processors is 512 KB per core and shared up to 50 MB in the server class variant. On the other hand, in comparison, the Level 2 cache size of the Comet Lake processors is 256 KB per core.
- The Level 3 cache size of the Intel Ice Lake processors is shared up to 8 MB and up to 60 MB in the client and server class variants, respectively. On the other hand, the Level 3 cache size of the Comet Lake processors is shared up to 20 MB.
- The technology node of the Ice Lake processors is Intel’s 10 nm Tri Gate, but in comparison, the technology node of the Intel Comet Lake processors is 14 nm FinFET.
- The microarchitecture of the Intel Ice Lake processors is Sunny Cove, but in comparison, the microarchitecture of the Intel Comet Lake processors is Skylake.
- The client class Ice Lake processors usually come with 2 to 4 cores and the server class processors can have 8 to 40 cores. On the other hand, the Intel Comet Lake processors usually come with 2 to 10 cores.
- The Intel Ice Lake processors come with BGA 1526 sockets in the client class CPUs and LGA 4189 sockets in the server class CPUs, but in comparison, the Intel Comet Lake mobile processors come with BGA 1528 and BGA 1440 socket types and the desktop CPUs feature an LGA 1200 socket type.
- The brand names of the Intel Ice Lake client class CPUs are Intel Core i3, i5, and i7 and those of the server class are Intel Xeon Silver, Xeon Gold, Xeon Platinum, and Xeon W. On the other hand, the brand names of the Intel Comet Lake processors are Intel Xeon W, Intel Core i3, i5, i7, i9, and Intel Pentium and Celeron.
- The predecessors of the Intel Ice Lake client class processor are the 10 nm Cannon Lake and the 14 nm Whiskey Lake, and 14 nm Cascade Lake for the server class CPUs. On the other hand, the predecessors of the Intel Comet Lake processors are Amber Lake and the 3rd optimization of Whiskey Lake for the mobile CPUs and Coffee Lake for the desktop variants.
- The successors of the Intel Ice Lake client class processor are the 14 nm Comet Lake of the same generation and the 10 nm Tiger Lake of the next generation, and the 14 nm Cooper Lake of the same generation and the Sapphire Rapids of the next generation for the server class CPUs. However, the successors of the Intel Comet Lake processors are the 10 nm Ice Lake of the same generation and Tiger Lake of the next generation for mobile CPUs, and Rocket Lake from the next generation for desktop CPUs.
Questions & Answers:
What Generation is Intel Ice Lake?
The Intel Ice lake processors typically belong to the 3rd generation of Xeon Scalable processors. However, it also refers to the 10th generation of the Intel Core mobile processors.
Is the Ice Lake Processor Good?
Yes, the Ice Lake processors from Intel are quite good at delivering relatively higher performance.
Its Sunny Cove microarchitecture and PAO or Process Architecture Optimization model offer higher security and efficiency.
Its built-in features allow it to handle IoT workloads and accelerate more powerful AI jobs.
How Many Cores Does Ice Lake Have?
The core count of the Ice Lake processor varies according to the type of it.
For example, the regular Ice Lake or client variant belonging to the Ice Lake Y and U series comes with a core configuration of 2 to 4, while, on the other hand, the server class CPUs such as those belonging to the Ice Lake SP and X series usually come with a core configuration ranging between 8 and 40.
The Intel Ice Lake processor comes with quite a few significant changes from its predecessors, which improve its functionality and performance.