Intel on Tuesday unveiled its ‘Meteor Lake’ processors that will make their way to computers by the end of the year. The new Intel Core Ultra chips are built using the company’s 7nm “Intel 4” technology and are the first processors from Intel to be equipped with a dedicated neural processing unit (NPU) for improved on-device AI performance. Like rivals AMD and Qualcomm, Intel’s upcoming chips use chiplets — or tiles for different components on the same chip. Intel has also touted the ability of its chip to run generative AI tools more efficiently on a laptop.
Launching on December 14, the upcoming Meteor Lake processors from Intel will succeed the firm’s Raptor Lake CPUs that were announced last year. The chipmaker says that Meteor Lake represents the biggest architectural shift in the company’s processor design in four decades, and the top-of-the-line chip is called the Intel Core Ultra — Intel appears to have switched to a new moniker for its high-end PC chip.
Thanks to Intel’s use of chiplets, the new Meteor Lake processors will use less power and offer better performance, according to Intel. This suggests that the Meteor Lake CPUs might actually be aimed at laptop users. The “Compute Tile” has performance and efficiency cores that are claimed to offer much better battery efficiency, as well as the company’s first integrated NPU AI engine.
The processor also has dedicated tiles for Media and Graphics, that are independently attached to the SoC. They can also be turned on and off independently, according to Intel. The “Graphics” tile on the processor is an “Xe LPG” GPU that is equipped with 8 Xe cores and offers support for ray tracing and XeSS — Intel’s technology to ‘upscale’ content.
Connectivity options on the “I/O Tile” Meteor Lake processors include Wi-Fi 7, Bluetooth 5.4, native HDMI 2.1, DisplayPort 2.1, PCIe Gen 5, and Thunderbolt 4. it appears that customers will have to wait a few more months before Intel introduces the first chips with support for the recently announced Thunderbolt 5 standard.
Intel has also touted the ability of its Meteor Lake ‘Intel Core Ultra’ chips to run AI tasks using the built-in NPU. The chips are expected to be able to run generative AI tools similar to ChatGPT on their computer without sending data to a cloud service. The dedicated NPU should also offer improved performance when using AI features that are expected to make their way to Windows in the future.
Pricing for Intel’s Meteor Lake processors haven’t been announced, but we can expect to hear more about these processors closer to the December 14 launch date, including which OEMs will be the first to bring the new chips to consumers and whether they will feature in both laptops and desktop computers.