2022 was a big year for Intel. Although all its processors were not on the top of every stack in performance, it has made huge long-term progress in every product line. And we have to recognize still it still has commanding market share in PCs.
The most notable PC product milestones for Intel in 2023 include the following:
- Intel Core processor's new asymmetric architecture with P-cores and E-cores
- Intel's End-to-End Foundry and IDM 2.0
- Intel's jump back into discrete GPUs with Intel Arc
I believe these moves by Intel contribute to its continued design wins and likely headaches for its competitors.
Intel's announcements at CES 2023 appears to contribute to the company's increased competitiveness of its mobile and desktop processors. Let's dive in.
Newly announced 13th Gen processors
Intel announced its 13th Gen Core processors, codenamed Intel Raptop Lake, at its annual IntelON event in 2022, specifically its higher-end desktop K-series. It is building on the momentum of its K-series with a 40% increase in Gen-over-Gen performance.
Intel announced 15 new desktop processors at CES 2023 including 65W (Watt) and 35W SKUs. These new SKUs offer better power efficiency without sacrificing performance in demanding tasks like gaming, content creation, and productivity.
I postulated in my coverage of Intel's 12th Gen Core processors last year that segmenting the number of E-cores and P-cores optimally could be critical to the efficiency and success of Intel's hybrid architecture.
Intel achieved these performance gains by optimizing its performance cores for speed, its efficiency cores for scalability and thread density, and Thread Director for handling low-quality service tasks between both core types. I believe these optimization gains and getting the right number of core counts per SKU allow Intel to increase its value significantly compared to the last generation.
An example of this value would be the 13th Gen Intel's Core i5 processor, which has an increase in E-Cores and a 40% increase in multi-threaded performance compared to Alder Lake at significantly less power.
Intel's new mobile processors
Intel also announced at CES its entire mobile 13th Gen Core processors, including its HX-series. The 12th Gen Intel Core HX processors were released later than the rest of the 12th Gen Intel Core mobile family at CES 2022 and targeted demanding mobile workstations. This go around, Intel has announced it with the rest of the mobile 13thGen family, making its way into gaming devices alongside mobile workstations.
Intel largely sticks with the same naming schema it introduced last year with HX-series, H-series, P-series, and U-series processors. Like its desktop processors, Intel has added more cores to its mobile family with up to 24 (8 P-cores and 16 E-cores) for the HX-series and up to 14 (6 P-cores and 8 E-cores) for the H-Series, P-series, and U-series. Although we do not see a 9W version of the U-series, I am more confident in Intel's lineup and how it has distributed its performance-per-watt offerings. I think Intel has the most potential to reach a better PPW (performance per watt) with its higher E-core counts and optimization of Thread Director.
Thread Director manages the system's threads so that each task is taken care of effectively and efficiently. Intel has partnered with Microsoft to enhance thread director so that tasks in the background are handled better and differentiated more effectively from user flow tasks. With more E-cores and enhancements to Thread Director, 13thGen Mobile processors should have better power efficiency coming into the year 2023.
These Thread Director capabilities takes years as we saw with Arm's big.LITTLE architecture. Intel has done an excellent job so far, but I will bet 14th Gen will be even better.
Intel Xe graphics with some Arc upgrades
It is also good to see Intel pulling from its new Intel Arc graphics platform to influence and add new features to its integrated Iris Xe graphics. Although it is no surprise, as Intel said it was in the works, Intel has brought XeSS to Intel Iris Xe graphics and not just 13th Gen mobile processors. XeSS is Intel's AI-enhanced super sampling technology which Intel says should add 30% more frames per second compared to native rendering.
Intel is adding Intel Arc Control, an overlay for games that allows gamers to tune graphics performance and stream with built-in audio. Although I have not tried Intel Arc Control myself, it is good to see Intel has a similar overlay to what NVIDIA and AMD offer with NVIDIA Performance Overlay and Radeon Overlay.
Another significant feature that Intel brought to its Iris Xe graphics is Endurance Gaming. Endurance Gaming, when turned on, optimizes the battery life and performance of games so that users can play for longer periods without compromising the game's performance. Endurance Gaming dynamically lowers the CPU's power draw and limits the game's framerate to 30 fps. Intel claims 4.5 hours of unplugged gameplay for games like League of Legends and Rocket League with Endurance Gaming. I am more than impressed if Intel's numbers are true and consistent across devices.
According to Intel's test, 4.5 hours was achieved on an Intel i7-1280P with a 72Wh battery size, set at 1080p. It tested games like Rocket League (Medium Quality), Dota 2 (Low Quality), World of Warcraft (Low Quality), GTA V (Low Quality), and League of Legends (Medium Quality). That makes the testing system slightly larger than a Dell XPS 13, which puts more AAA titles like those tested above on more thin and light machines. I am interested in testing these games and how well Endurance Gaming works across the board.
Along the same lines, Intel introduced its Movidius visual processing unit (VPU), which should work with Microsoft's Visual Studio effects in Windows 11. Intel says it should free the CPU and GPU from professional-grade collaboration and streaming workloads. I believe 2023 should be the year AI on the PC gets real, and Movidius's capability will help. I'm really interested to see how it stacks up with the new Ryzen AI.
Intel Evo Platform
One of Intel's most competitive mobile offerings is its Intel Evo Platform. The Intel Evo Platform, in process for half a decade, is designed to cultivate a thin and light mobile experience and a responsive and intelligent experience that can adapt to the user. In today's world of hybrid work and versatile working environments, the experience of a device requires much of what the Intel Evo Platform is offering.
Intel has included Bluetooth low energy (LE) Audio so that audio devices that are connected to Intel Evo devices suck less energy. Intel has also introduced a new Advanced Connection Manager, which uses all networking technologies—WiFi, cellular, and ethernet to give the user the best connection per application.
Intel's Thunderbolt 4 connectivity also supports DP2.1 for dual 4K 60Hz or 240Hz full HD connections and USB3.2 for 20Gb/s transfer speeds. On top of these new connectivity features, Intel is continuing to partner with industry OEMs to offer: Thunderbolt docks, monitors, and storage; Bluetooth headsets, mice, and keyboards; access points. These partnerships extend the Evo Platform from simply a device experience to desktop environments and hybrid work experiences.
Intel is also bringing Intel Unison to the Evo Platform for better-connected experiences between Android and iOS devices and Intel Evo devices. While there have been many platforms that attempt to link the smartphone to the PC, I believe Intel Unison is unique. It offers many connection types like 5G, Bluetooth, or WiFi and then chooses the best one. I used Unison for iOS and while imperfect, delivered some very basic messaging and photo capabilities. The Android version is much more robust.
Someone in the industry needs to bring this capability to the masses, and it may as well be Intel. Or Microsoft.
Intel is delivering on much of what it promised in previous years at its Architecturedays, Investor days, and at IntelON. Scale and ecosystem investment are keeping Intel on top in market share while the company is working hard to catch up on the foundry side.
Its 13th Gen Core line is a good step forward. The rest of the 13th Gen desktop family introduces value with more cores across the entire desktop processor family. With mobile, Intel continues to lean into the Intel Evo Platform showing that, while raw performance is an important measurement, it is not the most significant measuring stick in the long run.
Going into 2023, we have to keep one thing in mind—the world is still settling into its new hybrid normal. Versatility, adaptability, and reliability are three value propositions that mobile devices should lean into. I believe Intel is heading in the right direction with its 13th Gen mobile and desktop processors and its Intel Evo Platform.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy co-op Jacob Freyman contributed to this article.