Intel's CES livestream included plenty of new chips to chew over, including new Rocket Lake and Tiger Lake models, but the company held out one teaser for the end - a quick demo of an Alder Lake-S system. During the keynote, Intel also announced that its 10nm Ice Lake processors, which have experienced a seemingly-unending string of delays, are finally in production.
Intel's Alder Lake-S demo wasn't much – the company simply showed the system running an air-cooled processor as it played a video. We can also see two DRAM sticks in the system, which according to the latest information on the chips, should be the first chips to support DDR5.
The system was clearly running the Windows operating system, which is an important step in the development process: Alder Lake-S is the first x86 hybrid architecture, which merges both larger and smaller cores, for the mainstream desktop. That presents both software and operating system challenges that require dedicated support for hybrid architectures.
Intel's Alder Lake-S architecture features a design reminiscent of ARM's big.LITTLE, with the larger Golden Cove cores used primarily for high-priority work, while the smaller Atom Gracemont cores execute less-intensive tasks and background workloads.
Aside from mentioning that the chips come with the 10nm SuperFin process, Intel didn't share any new details about the design. Intel says these chips will come to market in the second half of the year.
Intel also announced that its 10nm third-gen Xeon Scalable Ice Lake server processors have finally entered production, and that the chips are being ramped for volume production. This announcement comes after a long string of delays; the chips were originally pegged for launch in 2020, signaling problems with Intel's 10nm process.
Intel CEO Bob Swan commented on Ice Lake server products during a recent roundtable with Tom's Hardware:
"The last thing I'd say about the execution as we exit the year – we launched the Ice Lake server product, qualified it at the end of the year, and started production of the Third-Gen Xeon Scalable processors. We are ramping [production] in the first quarter."
Swan's comments on Ice Lake's launch probably refer to early shipments to members of the Super Seven (hyperscalers), like Amazon, Google, and Facebook, which traditionally occurs before official launch announcements. Intel recently detailed the Ice Lake architecture during the recent Hot Chips event and will formally announce the lineup in the coming months.