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Intel makes its first 10nm Cannon Lake chips official


Lenovo IdeaPad 330

Intel’s transition to building processors on a 10nm manufacturing process has been delayed repeatedly. Once upon a time the company said that it’d go into mass production at the end of 2015; with its most recent financial results the company pushed that back, again, to 2019. But the company has also said that, although the yields aren’t good enough for large-scale production, it has been shipping 10nm processors, codename Cannon Lake, to an unspecified customer.

That customer is Lenovo: the IdeaPad 330 has been listed by Chinese retailers, and it includes a mysterious processor, the Core i3-8121U. The name tells us the market positioning—it’s an i3, so it’s low-end—the power envelope—the “U” at the end means that it’s a 15W chip—and the branding—the number starts with an 8, so it’s going to be another “8th generation” chip, just like the Kaby Lake-R, Kaby Lake-G, and Coffee Lake processors. This means that “8th generation” is a rather vague label that describes several different processor variants, built on several different manufacturing processes (two 14nm variants and now 10nm).

We didn’t know much more about the chip until Intel published it on its Ark site. The Ark listing confirms that it is indeed a 15W Cannon Lake chip, built on a 10nm process. It has two cores, four threads, a base clock speed of 2.2GHz with turbo boost of 3.2GHz, and 4MB of level 3 cache.

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