Today, Intel is launching a new series of 14nm notebook processors codenamed Comet Lake. Going by the numbers of Intel, Comet Lake looks like a competent upgrade to its predecessor Whiskey Lake. The interesting question – and one largely left unanswered by Intel – is why the company decided to launch a new line of 14nm laptop processors less than a month after the launch of Ice Lake, its first 10nm laptop processor.
Both Comet Lake and the Ice Lake Notebook Processor lineup this month consist of a full suite of i3, i5 and i7 mobile processors in high-power (U-series) and low-power (Y-series) variants. . This adds a total of 19 Intel laptop models released in August, and we expect to see a lot of confusion in the follow-up. During the briefing, Intel executives did not want to answer the question of distinguishing between Comet Lake and Ice Lake lines based on performance or price, but the technical specifications led us to believe that Ice Lake was probably a far more attractive product line for most users.
Intel U Series processors for both Comet Lake and Ice Lake operate at a nominal 15 W TDP. Both lines support Config Up 25W TDP, which can be activated by OEMs who choose to provide the necessary cooling and battery resources to maintain it.
Things get more interesting for the lower-powered Y series – Ice Lake offers a 9W / 12W configurable TDP, but Comet Lake undercuts that to 7W / 9W. This is already a significant drop in power budget, which Comet Lake takes even further by offering a new TDP Config Down that is either 4.5W or 5.5W, depending on the model you are looking for.  Comet Lake's largest and softest i7, the i7-10710U, sports 6 cores and 12 threads with a slightly higher Ice Lake 4C / 8T i7-1068G7 clock speed. However, parts of Comet Lake still use the older UHD graphics chip – they don't get access to Ice Lake's sleek new Iris +, which offers up to triple the onboard graphics performance. This sharply limits the attractiveness of Comet Lake i7 processors in any OEM design that does not include a separate Nvidia or Radeon GPU – which in turn would significantly destroy the power consumption and heat production of such a system.
The Comet Lake Y-Series makes a similar compromise. Although Comet Lake's Y-Series offers significantly lower power consumption than that of Ice Lake, it does make a lot of sacrifices to get there. Its core turbo frequencies are typically around 400 MHz from Ice Lake, RAM shrinking from LPDDR4x-3733 to LPDDR3-2133 and (of course) without Iris + graphics. We expect all this to add to the Ice Lake Y-Series, which performs much better than the Comet Lake, at a very obvious pants seat level in otherwise similarly configured systems.
Finally, Comet Lake does not support Intel Deep Learning Boost, a limited extended instruction set that accelerates AI loads based on vector neural networks. This advanced instruction set was originally available on Cascade Lake's Xeon Scalable processors before moving to the Ice Lake laptop.
We are ready to give Comet Lake a pass for this one. Personal Assistant technology may begin to take advantage of INT8's manuals in the near future, but for now, we don't think most users will likely miss it.
One focus shared by the two product lines is the enthusiasm for integrated support for Thunderbolt 3 and Wi-Fi 6. This is probably because neither is built into the current AMD lineup. Support for Wi-Fi 6 is perforated particularly strongly, with an entire slide dedicated to the illuminating claims of Netgear, TP-Link and Comcast.
It's probably a mistake to get too excited about this Wi-Fi 6 support; Independent tests of the current culture of Wi-Fi 6 routers do not support the fierce claims of 300% bandwidth improvements and delays made on this slide. More importantly, the true promise of Wi-Fi 6 has never been the omission of one device in the first place – the true promise of Wi-Fi 6 lies in improving the efficiency of the entire network. These increases come with OFDMA, which Netgear itself has described as the biggest benefit of Wi-Fi 6. Also, according to Netgear, the benefits do not start until you have at least four Wi-Fi 6 clients running concurrently. Conclusions
In a world that has passed straight from Whiskey Lake to Comet Lake, this composition will look pretty good. But we're having trouble seeing the true value of Comet Lake in a market where Ice Lake has just been launched. The low-energy Comet Lake Y-series is interesting, but the 6C / 12T i7-0710U is the only really tempting part of its U-series – in both cases we expect most users to be better served by Ice higher graphics performance and Lake memory.
This is not the first time that Intel has launched a confusing combination of portable processors on the market almost simultaneously. Some new eighth generation Coffee Lake products, for example, launched after the completion of the entire ninth generation Coffee Lake and Whiskey Lake cycle. It is tempting to speculate that Intel needs this late Comet Lake 14nm refresh due to the constraints of Ice Lake production, but it is just as likely that it is just business as usual in the Intel world.
Assuming the prices are similar, we see the ice The Lake product line is clearly better than Comet Lake's for most consumers. The confusion between the two lines could also be a field that Intel has left ripe for its rival AMD to overcome. Maybe AMD will even finish the hat trick, which started with Ryzen 3000 on the desktop and Epyc Rome in the server room.