Your folding PC future is almost here: Intel launches Lakefield CPUs
The ultra low-power chips have been hyped for dual-screen laptops, but they're probably suited to thin-and-light traveling models and Chromebooks, too.
Lori GruninSenior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
ExpertisePhotography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
Like phone processors, these chips mix high- and low-power cores, routing tasks as necessary to provide more efficient use of the battery. Intel's hyped them for novel dual-screen and folding devices such as the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold (slated to ship in the second half of 2020) and Samsung Galaxy Book S -- the latter uses a Qualcomm chip but an Intel model will be available this month -- predominantly because of their dual graphics pipelines, designed to drive multiple displays.
But the 10nm L series seems like the spiritual successor to the 14nm Y chips, the current Intel choice for current small and light laptops such as the MacBook Air and HP Spectre Folio. The new i5 and i3 have five cores, with no logical processor support (so also five threads) and a power envelope of 7 watts. They differ by clock speed -- 1.4GHz base/3.0GHz single core turbo for the i5 and 800MHz base/2.8 single core turbo for the i3 -- and number of execution units in the graphics core (64 vs. 48). The Y series also has a 7-watt configuration, but the L processors have a much lower standby power draw, as little as 2.5mW. They're updated to the Ice LakeG graphics cores as well, so expect to see improvement there.
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We have no reason to believe at the moment that
has put its dual-screen dreams on hold for 2020 like Microsoft has for the Surface Neo. But it will be far more useful if the new Intel chips make their way into more meat-and-potatoes laptops and Chromebooks.
Previous efforts using Qualcomm's platform, including newsworthy models such as the Microsoft Surface X, don't seem to have much traction because the performance and compatibility tradeoffs haven't been worth it. And while Intel continues to tout single-core performance, it remains to be seen how the L series stacks up for mundane multicore-intensive work such as loading applications.