Intel's first 10nm 'Cannon Lake' processor with 32GB LPDDR4 RAM support ships

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Details about the capabilities of Intel's "Cannon Lake" processors have finally surfaced, and the chip family will ultimately allow Apple to add a 32-gigabyte RAM option to its MacBook and MacBook Pro lines.

Intel Processor


Chinese retailer listings for the Lenovo IdeaPad 330 notebook reveal it uses a new processor, identified as the Core i3-8121U, reports Ars Technica. The related listing in Intel's Ark site confirms it to have been produced under a 10-nanometer process, and was launched in the second quarter of 2018.

A dual-core processor with four threads, the Core i3-8121U has a base clock speed of 2.2GHz, rising to 3.2GHz under Turbo Boost, and 4MB of cache. The use of i3 in the name means it is one of the lower-specification chips in the 8th-generation range, and the 15-watt thermal design point (TDP) indicates it would be best suited for use in notebooks.

Importantly, the Core i3-8121U is noted as having support for DDR4-2400 and LPDDR4/x-2400, and a maximum supported memory of 32 gigabytes from a maximum of two memory channels. This effectively means Apple could use similar Cannon Lake processors in its MacBook lines and use up to 32 gigabytes of memory, instead of the usual maximum of 16 gigabytes.

The current MacBook Pro generation is limited to using up to 16 gigabytes of RAM partly due to the Intel processors used not including native LPDDR4 support. Rather than adding a new RAM controller with DDR4 support in the short term to enable 32GB of memory to be usable, it seems that Apple has instead decided to wait until native LPDDR4 support is available to avoid adding this extra controller.

Despite the inclusion, it is unlikely that Apple would specifically use the Core i3-8121U in its products. Aside from being one of the slower chips in the upcoming range, Intel Ark doesn't appear to include any reference to an integrated GPU, suggesting it doesn't include integrated graphics at all and instead would need to be accompanied by a discrete GPU.

While Apple does offer MacBook Pro models with a discrete GPU, these are usually paired with a high performance processor. Though such a low-powered processor would be useful in the cheaper MacBook or MacBook Air, these also rely on using integrated graphics, with no discrete GPU option available at all.

Cannon Lake stands to offer the usual performance improvements and reduced power consumption accompanying die shrinks, including the move from 14nm to a 10nm process in this case. This typically is useful for notebook and tablet producers, due to the potentially lower heat generation and battery usage compared to previous processor releases.

It was revealed in April that Intel was planning to concentrate its efforts on shipping 14nm processors this year. While confirming some 10nm processors would ship this year, Intel advised it would instead shift high-volume manufacturing using the process into 2019, in order to work on improving chip yield ahead of mass production.

While Cannon Lake potentially offers the best possible upgrade for the MacBook line, there are still some other chip candidates Apple may be considering to use in a MacBook refresh, albeit those without support for LPDDR4 RAM. Suitable processors announced in April include the Core i9-8950HK, a hexa-core processor with a base clock speed of 2.9GHz, 4.8GHz under Turbo Boost, and the same 45-watt TDP as the quad-core 2.8GHz Core i7 Apple uses in the entry-level 15-inch MacBook Pro.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 54
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,290member
    This explains why all the sudden massive discounts of Mac Book Pro  models reported on AI these last few days I suspect.  Well, I only want a MBP for casual use so I grabbed a MBP with touch bar from Adorama thanks to the AI advertorial and have no regrets, heck of a saving. 

    Will Apple use the Radeon RX Vega M GH Graphics GPUs on the next generation MBPs I wonder?
    edited May 17 Avieshekbshankwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 54
    tmaytmay Posts: 2,648member
    MacPro said:
    This explains why all the sudden massive discounts of Mac Book Pro  models reported on AI these last few days I suspect.  Well, I only want a MBP for casual use so I grabbed a MBP with touch bar from Adorama thanks to the AI advertorial and have no regrets, heck of a saving. 

    Will Apple use the Radeon RX Vega M GH Graphics GPUs on the next generation MBPs I wonder?
    It's been a long wait for many Mac Book Pro users to break the 16 GB memory barrier, and while I'm not the target audience, I expect a nice bump in sales when these are refreshed. Still, I have to wonder what additional niceties Apple will throw in.

    I'm guessing it's still a bit early for cellular, albeit Intel must be looking at providing that as an integrated feature in the near future.
    Avieshekh2pbrian greenwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 54
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,816member
    MacPro said:
    This explains why all the sudden massive discounts of Mac Book Pro  models reported on AI these last few days I suspect.  Well, I only want a MBP for casual use so I grabbed a MBP with touch bar from Adorama thanks to the AI advertorial and have no regrets, heck of a saving. 

    Will Apple use the Radeon RX Vega M GH Graphics GPUs on the next generation MBPs I wonder?
    Not really, since as the article states, this product isn't at all appropriate for a MBP. 

    Actually, there's very little that it is appropriate for. It's an oddball part. It's mostly just a physical manifestation of Intel's considerable difficulty in getting their 10nm node to work. 
    baconstangthtwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 54
    chasmchasm Posts: 584member
    Sounds very much to me as though this current Cannon Lake chip is a single proof of 10nm manufacturing ability. As noted in the article itself, high-volume shipments of the more powerful procs in the Cannon Lake family (I.e. MBP chips) are still delayed until 2019.
    blastdoorfastasleepwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 54
    blastdoorblastdoor Posts: 1,816member
    TSMC will be shipping massive volumes of SOCs fabbed on their 7nm process (roughly equivalent to Intel's 10nm process) this year. Intel is saying they won't be able to do the same until next year, maybe second half of next year. 

    The rationale to stick with Intel in Macs is getting weaker. 
    redgeminipawatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 54
    canukstormcanukstorm Posts: 1,478member
    chasm said:
    Sounds very much to me as though this current Cannon Lake chip is a single proof of 10nm manufacturing ability. As noted in the article itself, high-volume shipments of the more powerful procs in the Cannon Lake family (I.e. MBP chips) are still delayed until 2019.
    That's correct.  The Intel processors that support 32GB LPDDR4 RAM that Pro MBP users are waiting for won't be ready till 2nd half of 2019.  They've been delayed a year to year and a half due to Intel's 10nm manufacturing challenges. Given such a long delay, Intel may just forego Cannon Lake & skip right to Ice Lake.
    Avieshekh2pfastasleepchasmwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 54
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,290member
    blastdoor said:
    MacPro said:
    This explains why all the sudden massive discounts of Mac Book Pro  models reported on AI these last few days I suspect.  Well, I only want a MBP for casual use so I grabbed a MBP with touch bar from Adorama thanks to the AI advertorial and have no regrets, heck of a saving. 

    Will Apple use the Radeon RX Vega M GH Graphics GPUs on the next generation MBPs I wonder?
    Not really, since as the article states, this product isn't at all appropriate for a MBP. 

    Actually, there's very little that it is appropriate for. It's an oddball part. It's mostly just a physical manifestation of Intel's considerable difficulty in getting their 10nm node to work. 
    OK thanks, I am not that up on the tech of GPUs, I guess I am hoping Apple, for once,  have the latest and most powerful graphics available and to take that wild dream further, not some exotic variant that never gets driver updates, i.e. on par or better than PCs and I am talking mobile MBPs as well as desktops.  I don't care if Apple make their own or use AMD or NVidea but it would be really nice to see Macs blowing away frame rates in all areas of graphics from FCPro, Maya, VR or even GTA V (last one I know is PC only but just maybe games makers would look at Macs more if the performance were there).
    edited May 17 h2pwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 54
    columbuscolumbus Posts: 281member
    Chinese retailer listings for the Lenovo IdeaPad 330 notebook reveal it uses a new processor, identified as the Core i3-8121U, reports Ars Technica.

    Importantly, the Core i3-8121U is noted as having support for DDR4-2400 and LPDDR4/x-2400, and a maximum supported memory of 32 gigabytes from a maximum of two memory channels.

    Intel Ark doesn't appear to include any reference to an integrated GPU, suggesting it doesn't include integrated graphics at all and instead would need to be accompanied by a discrete GPU.

    How is this IdeaPad envisioned to work as product then. Who exactly is in the market for a low end CPU paired with a dedicated GPU?

    Made more confusing because Lenovo recently updated all of the IdeaPad line... curious stuff. 

    Edit: It appears this model is for the Chinese market only, which answers my second question. The i3 / discrete GPU combination still seems odd regardless of market.

    In case you are wondering why I care - I'm going to go out on a limb and say I'm probably the only person reading this on an IdeaPad (Linux, not Windows). Hence the passing interest.

    Currently in a holding position until Apple fixes the MacBook Pro keyboard. In case you wondered IdeaPad keyboards are perfectly boring, average and adequate but crucially resilient in demanding conditions - withstanding domestic household specs of dust.
    edited May 17 baconstangelijahg
  • Reply 9 of 54
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 30member
    32GB's or not that chip is a no go on a MacBook Pro. I need the memory for VM's, but don't want a reduction in speed that an i3 guarantees.
    h2pwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 54
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,002member
    tmay said:
    MacPro said:
    This explains why all the sudden massive discounts of Mac Book Pro  models reported on AI these last few days I suspect.  Well, I only want a MBP for casual use so I grabbed a MBP with touch bar from Adorama thanks to the AI advertorial and have no regrets, heck of a saving. 

    Will Apple use the Radeon RX Vega M GH Graphics GPUs on the next generation MBPs I wonder?
    It's been a long wait for many Mac Book Pro users to break the 16 GB memory barrier, and while I'm not the target audience, I expect a nice bump in sales when these are refreshed. Still, I have to wonder what additional niceties Apple will throw in.

    I'm guessing it's still a bit early for cellular, albeit Intel must be looking at providing that as an integrated feature in the near future.
    No bump in sales at all. The number of people who actually need that much RAM, especially on a laptop, is small indeed.
    macxpresschasmwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 54
    tmaytmay Posts: 2,648member
    lkrupp said:
    tmay said:
    MacPro said:
    This explains why all the sudden massive discounts of Mac Book Pro  models reported on AI these last few days I suspect.  Well, I only want a MBP for casual use so I grabbed a MBP with touch bar from Adorama thanks to the AI advertorial and have no regrets, heck of a saving. 

    Will Apple use the Radeon RX Vega M GH Graphics GPUs on the next generation MBPs I wonder?
    It's been a long wait for many Mac Book Pro users to break the 16 GB memory barrier, and while I'm not the target audience, I expect a nice bump in sales when these are refreshed. Still, I have to wonder what additional niceties Apple will throw in.

    I'm guessing it's still a bit early for cellular, albeit Intel must be looking at providing that as an integrated feature in the near future.
    No bump in sales at all. The number of people who actually need that much RAM, especially on a laptop, is small indeed.
    There will be a bump at refresh is all I that I meant; not that it will be attributable to increased memory. I agree with you that the 32 GB barrier is overblown.
    baconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 54
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,606member
    I wonder what is preventing the current MacBooks from using 32 GB of RAM. My iMac 5K has 32. So does my older cheese grater MacPro.
    edited May 17
  • Reply 13 of 54
    dick applebaumdick applebaum Posts: 12,433member
    blastdoor said:
    TSMC will be shipping massive volumes of SOCs fabbed on their 7nm process (roughly equivalent to Intel's 10nm process) this year. Intel is saying they won't be able to do the same until next year, maybe second half of next year. 

    The rationale to stick with Intel in Macs is getting weaker. 
    Aren't these TSMC chips all ARM?  If so, wouldn't that open the possibilities of:
    • using them in some MacBooks
    • some iPads running macOS
    Also, I read somewhere that the new MBPs are running hot!
  • Reply 14 of 54
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,606member
    blastdoor said:
    The rationale to stick with Intel in Macs is getting weaker. 
    Probably getting close. Apple's A11 Bionic already has nearly twice as many transistors as the Intel quad core i7. Once they can get an X86 emulator to run Windows with minimal performance hit there should be no reason not to switch to ARM.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 54
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 2,695administrator
    volcan said:
    I wonder what is preventing the current MacBooks from using 32 GB of RAM. My iMac 5K has 32. So does my older cheese grater MacPro.
    The LPDDR3 spec is limited in itself to 16GB. Current Intel chips (minus this one) don't support LPDDR4.

    The iMac 5K is DDR4. The 5,1 is ECC DDR3. Even though the letters "DDR" are in there, LPDDR3 and LPDDR4 have almost nothing in common with DDR3 and DDR4 RAM.
    edited May 17 tallest skilStrangeDaysbshankfastasleepchasmwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 54
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,399member
    tmay said:
    lkrupp said:
    tmay said:
    MacPro said:
    This explains why all the sudden massive discounts of Mac Book Pro  models reported on AI these last few days I suspect.  Well, I only want a MBP for casual use so I grabbed a MBP with touch bar from Adorama thanks to the AI advertorial and have no regrets, heck of a saving. 

    Will Apple use the Radeon RX Vega M GH Graphics GPUs on the next generation MBPs I wonder?
    It's been a long wait for many Mac Book Pro users to break the 16 GB memory barrier, and while I'm not the target audience, I expect a nice bump in sales when these are refreshed. Still, I have to wonder what additional niceties Apple will throw in.

    I'm guessing it's still a bit early for cellular, albeit Intel must be looking at providing that as an integrated feature in the near future.
    No bump in sales at all. The number of people who actually need that much RAM, especially on a laptop, is small indeed.
    There will be a bump at refresh is all I that I meant; not that it will be attributable to increased memory. I agree with you that the 32 GB barrier is overblown.
    Don't forget the inevitable complaints about the price of the future 32GB variant...and "what I really need is 64GB"...
    williamlondontmaybaconstangd_2lkruppwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 54
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,354member
    1) I wonder what the price bump is for an extra 16GiB of RAM.

    2) I also wonder if Apple's MBP line will offer bth 16GiB and 32GiB options, or just jump to 32GiB for all models the way they now only offer 16GiB. My guess is they'll offer both capacities.
    bshankwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 54
    dick applebaumdick applebaum Posts: 12,433member
    volcan said:
    blastdoor said:
    The rationale to stick with Intel in Macs is getting weaker. 
    Probably getting close. Apple's A11 Bionic already has nearly twice as many transistors as the Intel quad core i7. Once they can get an X86 emulator to run Windows with minimal performance hit there should be no reason not to switch to ARM.
    Isn't the X86 emulator a legal (licensing) issue rather than a tech issue?  If so, Apple is in a pretty good negotiating position:
    • Macs are a small percent of the total computers that use Intel chips
    • iDevices provide a very large percentage of mobile devices using modems -- potentially Intel modem chips
    Is it possible that lower volumes of A11s could be used in MacBooks and iPads soon -- earlier than the expected new iPhones in the Fall-Winter?
    edited May 17 watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 54
    SoliSoli Posts: 7,354member
    Is it possible that lower volumes of A11s could be used in MacBooks and iPads soon -- earlier than the expected new iPhones in the Fall-Winter?
    Apple has the A-series, S-series, W-series, T-series, and even the M-series co-processor. The first 3 run distinct product lines from Apple. I'm not sure they'd call their own silicon running a low-end Mac an A-series. I'd think that the amount of RAM, GPU, and other features, like the potential for x86_64 emulation (which I doubt would be included), would fall in line with what Apple uses for the iPhone or iPad.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 54
    bkkcanuckbkkcanuck Posts: 729member
    MacPro said:
    This explains why all the sudden massive discounts of Mac Book Pro  models reported on AI these last few days I suspect.  Well, I only want a MBP for casual use so I grabbed a MBP with touch bar from Adorama thanks to the AI advertorial and have no regrets, heck of a saving. 

    Will Apple use the Radeon RX Vega M GH Graphics GPUs on the next generation MBPs I wonder?
    It is highly unlikely that this chip is the reason.  At most, we might see a small bump with a revision as another stop-gap measure until Intel gets it's act together.  

    Even if Intel is able to churn out chips in limited quantity, the ones that Apple needs are typically the ones with the largest die size (usually the high-end graphics variant which takes up considerable die).  If there is a high reject ratio then the larger the chip, the larger (exponentially) the number of rejects - basically the cost of the product is more than what they can sell them at that point.  It still seems like Intel is at the point where CannonLake for Apple is far away - possibly even into 2020.  

     Soli said:
    1) I wonder what the price bump is for an extra 16GiB of RAM.

    2) I also wonder if Apple's MBP line will offer bth 16GiB and 32GiB options, or just jump to 32GiB for all models the way they now only offer 16GiB. My guess is they'll offer both capacities.
    It is irrelevant to speculate on the price of the extra 16GB of RPM since it is so far off in the future (unfortunately) that with RPM prices -- right now -- we have no clue on the cost to Apple for that same memory.  It could be the same price as now, it could be half, it could even be more.  

    Apple could put 32GB in right now if they were to use DDR4 instead of LPDDR3 -- but they won't.  The impact of changing to DDR4 for the first 16GB and then adding another 16GB of DDR4 drain on the battery - would be significant. As such we have to wait for Intel.  It is not that DDR4 consumes more power when active, or it consumes more power when inactive - the truth is that it most likely does not.  The difference between the two is that if you use DDR4 memory and it is active, it will not switch down into low power mode unless unused for a significant amount of time.  LPDDR3/4 switches from active to inactive almost instantaneously in comparison.  With the OS (even with the optimization that Apple did several versions ago), is constantly starting up and scheduling stuff to run in the background - with LPDDR3 it would go active, inactive, active etc.  With DDR4 - it would more likely stay active and not have enough time to switch down to inactive... hence it draws significantly more power just to have installed in the computer.  For the life of me, I don't know why Intel did not have an architecture update to support LPDDR4 since they obviously have been unable to master the die shrink... maybe they keep on thinking ... just a little more - not worth it... yet it has been years now.
     


    baconstangbestkeptsecretchasmwatto_cobra
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