Editor’s Opinion: A Culture of Information

As an aside to today's announcement, I had a few thoughts on how Intel releases product information. Seeing as this ventures closer to opinion/editorial than news & analysis, I felt it best not to mix it up with the key facts of the Whiskey/Amber Lake announcements. Nonetheless, I wanted to share my thoughts to give everyone a bit more insight into how information sharing has been changing over the past few years.

For readers that regularly follow us, you will note that with each and every generation, Intel has been less than forthcoming with details about new launches. In some aspects, such as the enterprise team, that trend is slowly reversing, but for this launch, almost all the technical info came in two slides, and for most of the specifications we had to request follow-up questions. The data we used to get in a slide deck in previous years has now been relegated to ‘ask if you care about it’, which is a worrying policy from my point of view.
 
For example, if you are wondering where information on the integrated graphics is, well, we’re waiting on it because it wasn’t provided in the group briefing. Info such as the name of the integrated graphics (UHD xxx), number of execution units, base frequencies, turbo frequencies – all of which used to be standard fare in previous generations. As did the per-core turbo frequencies. We also ask for new information these days as our understanding of products increases, such as PL2 data.
 
Perhaps the best example of how Intel has changed is that Intel didn't even disclose information on the underlying microarchitecture or manufacturing node until it was asked. Information that used to be at the forefront of a presentation has been replaced with marketing, and said information is now left at the end.
 
This isn’t a direct attack on Intel - we are constantly engaging with the people we speak to at the company on the way that they disclose materials like this, encouraging them to be more forthcoming on day one, as the company used to be. The differences between notebook, desktop, and enterprise disclosure are down to the different product teams deciding individually what to disclose, rather than a common disclosure set running through the whole company.
 
Intel’s reaction to this, from the people we speak to, has always been one of co-operation. They have been honest when they are told they can’t disclose information, even if we ask every time because the information is arguably trivial to obtain elsewhere (we would rather Intel was the source, given that it is Intel’s product). The way Intel is going about the marketing message for these new platforms is similar to that of how Intel marks new generations of products: people aren’t interested in names, or specific features. This is why we now have multiple manufacturing nodes and microarchitectures all under the ‘8th Generation’ branding. Products are sold on capabilities and user experiences, not in the fine minutiae of technical specifications – and this I do not doubt.
 
However Intel has historically been a company that has delved deep into details consistently over the years, and that seems to be fading – for a company that takes pride in its engineering, it would be great to offer engineering details to the customers and analysts that track its progress.
 

Intel Launches Whiskey and Amber
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  • kpb321 - Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - link

    Man the cTDP down option really does a number on the base clock speeds. for the 15w processors dropping the TDP ~33% reduces the clock speed to half or less of the normal base speed. Obviously the CPU won't spend all, or hopefully much, of their time throttled down that low but it still looks painful. Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - link

    It actually will, to keep within the new TDP. Of course lot of client usage is bursty, so its not as noticeable. Do anything sustained, and it'll drop. Reply
  • ajp_anton - Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - link

    But the 15W parts at cTDP down 10W have lower base clocks than the 5W parts at both 5W and 7W. Reply
  • Frenetic Pony - Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - link

    Of course Intel isn't divulging architecture details or manufacturing details. There's no need to report anything until there's anything to report, especially when saying "we didn't change almost anything" would make Intel look bad. Reply
  • zodiacfml - Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - link

    Exactly Reply
  • tipoo - Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - link

    15W parts still seem to lack Iris Plus, so maybe still not for the nontouchbar Macbook Pro...This alleged new budget Macbook, maybe, and the 5W parts definitely for the 12 Reply
  • repoman27 - Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - link

    The MacBook (Retina, 13-inch, 2018) which will replace the 13-inch MacBook Air is simply the MacBook Pro (13-inch, Two Thunderbolt 3 Ports) in a wedge shaped / tapered case, as was originally intended back in 2016. As can be guessed just by looking at the name, that model was a total plan-B, and ended up delaying the 2016 MacBook Pro launch by four months. I'm guessing Apple will continue to use the same KBL-U 2+3e platform as the current 13-inch MacBook Pro sans Touch Bar and proceed to discontinue that product. Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - link

    "If all of this wasn't confusing enough, OEMs can run the chips in cTDP Up and cTDP down modes. Will you be able to tell if your chip is in one of these modes?"

    You should know, since you write articles related to computers.

    The cTDP modes are for manufacturers. They can decide how it can be implemented. If they wish, it could be cTDPdown all the time, or normal TDP all the time, or cTDPup all the time.

    Or they can make it usage dependent for convertibles. Tablet mode = cTDPdown, Laptop mode on battery = Nominal, Laptop mode on AC power = cTDPup.
    Reply
  • GreenReaper - Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - link

    Right, but his point was "as a consumer, will you be told these details?" - and like most questions posed by journalists, the answer is "probably not" - they'll just sell it as "contains Intel i7 processor". Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Tuesday, August 28, 2018 - link

    The control is in manufacturer's hands. They do things for a reason.

    For example, there are ways to circumvent some power limitations so it runs at full power all the time. Perhaps the manufacturer decided the design and the chassis doesn't allow it to do that, doing some damage in the process.

    Like, you don't want to be running at 25W full-bore when its in tablet mode.
    Reply

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