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Intel joins the AI PC party with Lunar Lake laptop CPUs

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Intel has launched its new Lunar Lake laptop CPU lineup with bold promises. Fighting off threats from the ARM architecture and Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon X chip lineup, Team Blue has moved to a system-on-chip design that promises up to 14 percent faster CPU performance on the same clock speeds, 50 percent more graphics performance, and 60 percent better battery life.

The new SoC design also helped Intel increase the NPU size to about three times while simultaneously quadrupling the performance of its AI accelerator. The Verge reports that Rob Hallock, Intel’s technical marketer, claims that Lunar Lake CPUs can also beat the Snapdragon X lineup.

Lunar Lake offers 48 TOPs from the NPU alone, and the GPU can be pulled in for an additional 67 TOPs of computing power—far ahead of Microsoft’s CoPilot+ PC requirements or Snapdragon’s highest numbers, which come in at 40 and 45 TOPs, respectively. The CPU giant might even label some systems to go as high as 120 TOPS.

Lunar Lake makes a lot of bold claims. | Source: Intel

That said, not all the new Lunar Lake changes might appeal to you. The new CPU lineup comes with RAM baked into the processor itself, meaning you get to pick between either 16 or 32GB of LPDDR5x memory at the time of buying, with no way of adding any more. On the bright side, every Lunar Lake laptop is guaranteed to have a minimum of two Thunderbolt 4 ports. WiFi 7 and Bluetooth 5.4 are also baked into the chip, although they require a PCIe module for physical radios and antennas.

Lunar Lake also comes with a new core structure. After just one year, Intel has dropped the Low Power Efficiency (LP-E) cores we saw in Meteor Lake. The company is now going with a new 4 x 4 core system with four “Lion Cove” P-cores and four “Skymount” E-cores. There’s also a new thread director, which aims to keep as many tasks as possible on these new E-cores, which run as fast as an LP-E core but with one-third the power to achieve the battery life numbers Intel is claiming.

Alternatively, the four E-cores can scale up twice or even quadruple the performance in single-threaded vs multi-threaded performance tests. Last but not least, Hallock also claims that the E-cores are so compact and capable now that Hyper-Threading no longer makes sense, meaning it’s been axed in this lineup.

This is how the Lunar Lake CPUs look. | Source: Intel

Regarding performance, Intel claims that the E-cores are more powerful and efficient than last year’s P-cores at typical laptop clock speeds, offering up to 20 per cent more single-threaded performance. The P-cores also provide a 14 percent performance raise at the same clock speed, but Intel hasn’t given any numbers for real-world comparisons yet.

Not to be left behind, the GPU is already quite a unit with its 67 TOPs of compute power, eight second-generation Xe-cores, eight enhanced ray tracking units, support for new XMX engines, and an overall 1.5-time improvement in graphics performance over Meteor Lake GPUs.

To wrap things up, a wave of Lunar Lake laptops is coming in 2024. These include 80 different designs across 20 hardware partners at launch. Microsoft, however, is missing from the partners’ list, with Redmond placing its eggs in Qualcomm’s basket instead. Regardless, Intel promises that all 80 designs should hit the markets by Q3 2024, just in time for the holiday season.

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Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here: yadullahabidi@pm.me.

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