While Intel and AMD surpassed each other at CES 2019 by announcing their respective 10nm and 7nm processors, both companies introduced hybrid processors that could have an even greater impact of changing the future of computing forever.
On one side, there are Intel's LakeField processors, whose architecture is closer to that of the ARM CPU than a traditional data chip. Instead of just having a block of 10nm CPU cores, the LakeField processor will have a central 10nm Sunny Cove core paired with four Treemont Atom cores.
Later on in CES 2019, AMD introduced its own hybrid processor with its Ryzen 3rd Generation chip that paired an 8-core 7nm chiplet with a second 1
Both processors aim to do different things with their hybrid architectures, but they share one thing in common: they are both moving away from the traditional monolithic processor.
Monolithic vs Hybrid
Now you can wonder what the difference is between monolithic and hybrid processor design? The answer is actually easier than you might think.
Most of the time, processors that have come in laptops and PCs are stuck in a monolithic design, where there is a homogeneous processor made of a single architecture. For example, Intel Coffee Lake processors used a single 14nm door, Ryzen processors contained 14nm die, Ryzen 2nd Generation at 12nm die, and so on.
Hybrid designs shake things up by introducing discs that can add a second type of processor cores, integrated graphics, memory or any number of things.
ARM-based processors available in phones, tablets and even Qualcomm-powered Windows 10 machines typically use this type of design to a great extent to maximize battery life and consistent performance. Now it seems we are starting to see the beginning of hybridization in computer processors now – at least in Intel's case with LakeField.
Hybrid processors can let your devices handle all your data on demand and save battery life when they are only on standby by packing in both performance cores and low energy cores in the same chip. In addition, chips with this type of architecture can act as compact systems on a chip if they also have integrated graphics, memory and other modules.
Proof in pudding
In fact, Intel has already shown an example of how small its hybrid processor-controlled device can be. At its CES 2019 keynote scene, the company introduced its LakeField processor built into the smallest motherboard, producing just five lengths of five US quarters, a form factor that can easily fit into tablets and even some phones.
According to Intel, LakeField processors can drive everything from very low power supplies and scale up to full PC performance.
AMD almost did not have many examples of concepts, but it showed that the new hybridized processor does not lose a step in performance thanks to the new design. The company's mystery Ryzen 3rd Generation processor made 2 023 points in Cinebench. In comparison, Intel Core i9-9900K and AMD Ryzen made 7 2700X 1 873 and 1 798 points in our own testing.
It seems that hybrid processors have a promising future in computers, but we don't want to buy into the hype too much until we actually get some units with them.
There is also no need for monolithic pattern processors to disappear at any time soon. All the complexity of hybrid chips is likely to increase to the cost of units until their production becomes ubiquitous.
Not all devices can also benefit from a hybrid architecture. For example, computers designed for production and gaming will improve with classically engineered processors and the maximum power that a monolithic processor can deliver – but the regularity of Apple's iPads equipped with its own manufacturers exceeds Windows 10 laptops can prove this to be FALSE.
It is too early to tell which devices are powered by Intel and AMD's hybrid processors, but we are happy that this is happening. The software and the experience of using laptops and computers has evolved in line with phones and mobile devices – with touch screens, biometrics and modern standby features – and it feels like it's time to do the same with the hardware that drives them.