A year-and-a-half ago, I revealed the code-name of the third processor family that chip giant Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) plans to build using its upcoming 10-nanometer chip manufacturing technology -- Tiger Lake.
Back then, all that was really known about the chip was the name and that it was in the works (something that Intel's then-CFO confirmed), but there was little else in the way of details about what Intel was planning to deliver with that chip.
Thanks to some poking around on LinkedIn, though, I can now share with you another detail about Intel's Tiger Lake processor family.
Tiger Lake brings new Gen. 12 graphics architecture
Per a LinkedIn profile of a current Intel employee, the company's Tiger Lake family of processors will include the company's Gen. 12 graphics architecture. That same profile also reiterates some more commonly known information that the company's Ice Lake architecture -- which is the company's second-generation processor family built on its 10-nanometer technology -- will use its Gen. 11 graphics architecture.
Intel's current seventh-generation Core processors (code-named Kaby Lake) and its upcoming eighth-generation Core processors (code-named Kaby Lake-Refresh and Coffee Lake, depending on the market segment) use the company's Gen. 9 graphics paired with what the company refers to as a Gen. 9.5 media engine.
It's clear, then, that during the 10-nanometer generation, Intel plans to deliver annual architectural updates to the graphics capabilities to its processors.
Why this is significant
It's clear that Intel was caught off-guard with the troubles it has faced (and seemingly continues to face) in ramping its 10-nanometer technology into mass production. That's why the company's seventh-generation and eighth-generation Core processors amounted to little more than speed-boosted versions of the company's sixth-generation Core processor family.
However, it seems that for the 10-nanometer generation, Intel is planning for multiple generations of products on the technology ahead of time, which should ultimately mean more compelling annual updates than what the company delivered in 2016, and plans to deliver in 2017 and 2018.
Also, since Intel seemingly plans to introduce new graphics architectures on an annual clip, it may be the case that the company plans to update the architectures of the other key technologies of its 10-nanometer chips at an annual cadence, too.
Indeed, if Intel can deliver annual improvements in the CPU, graphics, image processing, and other key areas, that should make for a much more vibrant and compelling product roadmap than what the company has been delivering lately and is planning to deliver in the near term.
At the end of the day, Intel's bungled transition to the 10-nanometer technology generation led to the company delivering products that, while competent, were far less capable than they could have been had they been planned for years in advance.
For the 10-nanometer generation, the initial evidence seems to suggest that Intel's product teams have a more realistic view of what Intel's chip manufacturing division can deliver, which may allow those product teams to define and build impressive products.