Soon, chip giant Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) is expected to release a new family of processors, known as Gemini Lake, for the low-cost personal-computer market. The Gemini Lake chips are expected to offer better performance and increased technology integration relative to the company's current-generation Apollo Lake processors that currently serve this segment.
According to a new tweet from FanlessTech, which has posted accurate information about Intel's future processors in the past, the successor to this year's Gemini Lake is a processor known as Gemini Lake Plus.
The tweet doesn't include much in the way of details, but the naming of the chip might clue us in to what the company is planning for this next-generation product.
A better Gemini Lake
The fact that the new chip will reportedly be called Gemini Lake Plus tells us that what Intel is planning is a processor that's like the upcoming Gemini Lake, but with some important enhancements.
I believe the current-generation Apollo Lake processors are manufactured using Intel's first-generation 14nm technology and that Gemini Lake will be built on the company's 14nm+ technology -- a performance-enhanced version of the company's original 14nm technology.
FanlessTech indicated in another tweet that Gemini Lake Plus could be built on the company's upcoming 10nm technology rather than on a derivative of the company's 14nm technology. I disagree. Since Gemini Lake Plus will be a cost-effective product targeting cost-sensitive devices, Intel will opt to use its highly mature 14nm technology for Gemini Lake Plus to keep its manufacturing costs as low as possible.
It stands to reason, then, that Gemini Lake Plus will be manufactured on the company's third-generation 14nm derivative, known as 14nm++. This technology, according to Intel, delivers about a 10% boost in performance over 14nm+.
I don't think Intel will settle for migrating the original Gemini Lake to an updated manufacturing technology and the performance boost that such a migration would provide. Instead, I expect Intel to make other design and integration enhancements to further boost the value proposition of the products.
More integration, better graphics, and more
One technology that Intel needs to integrate into its future low-cost PC processors is LTE data capability. Gemini Lake doesn't integrate such technology, but I think the odds are reasonable that Gemini Lake Plus will feature an integrated LTE modem.
In addition, one area where Gemini Lake is likely to be particularly weak is in graphics. The graphics capabilities of Gemini Lake don't appear to have improved much from Apollo Lake; both include 18 cores of Intel's dated Gen. 9 graphics architecture.
For Gemini Lake Plus, I'd expect Intel to either add more of the Gen. 9 graphics cores in a bid to improve performance or to migrate to a newer graphics architecture -- i.e., Gen. 10 graphics cores. Either way, Intel's low-cost PC processors certainly need a graphics boost, and I expect the company to deliver.
Beyond such improvements, I wouldn't be surprised to see modest changes to the CPU cores inside the Gemini Lake Plus chip for more performance as well as enhancements to the memory controller to support faster memory speeds.
None of the enhancements discussed here would, alone, be enough to carry a new processor generation, but in aggregate they could make for a very compelling upgrade to Intel's increasingly capable low-cost PC processor offerings.