The embedded and edge markets for Intel have always been hidden away within its IoT business, however at the Investor Meeting last year it was highlighted as one of Intel’s key growth areas. The requirements for businesses to enable automation and control, as well as apply machine learning or computer vision, have increased as new optimized algorithms and use cases enter the market, and this is the question that the new 10nm Atom Embedded CPUs are set to answer.

Elkhart Lake built upon Tremont with 10nm 

The new processors built with Tremont Atom cores will come as three series of processors: Pentium, Celeron, and Atom x6000E. These are all built with the same silicon die, offering up to four Atom cores with a 3.0 GHz turbo frequency, up to 850 MHz of Gen11 graphics (up to 32 EUs, three 4K60 displays), in TDPs ranging from 4.5 W to 12 W. All processors will support up to LPDDR4X-4267 or DDR4-3200. In-band ECC support is split - the Atom x6000E parts have it, but the Pentium and Celerons do not.

Intel Elkhart Lake
Tremont Atoms for Embedded
AnandTech Cores Base
Pentium J/N and Celeron J/N
Pentium J6425 4 1800 3000 400 850 10W - -
Celeron J6413 4 1800 3000 400 800 10W - -
Pentium N6415 4 1200 3000 350 800 6.5W - -
Celeron N6211 2 1200 3000 250 750 6.5W - -
Atom x6000E
Atom x6425E 4 1800 3000 500 750 12W - -
Atom x6413E 4 1500 3000 500 750 9W - -
Atom x6211E 2 1200 3000 350 750 6W - -
Atom x6000RE: RTOS Support
Atom x6425RE 4 1900 - 400 - 12W Yes -
Atom x6414RE 4 1500 - 400 - 9W Yes -
Atom x6212RE 2 1200 - 350 - 6W Yes -
Atom x6000FE: Intel Safety Island Support
Atom x6427FE 4 1900 - 400 - 12W Yes Yes
Atom x6200FE* 2 1000 - - - 4.5W Yes Yes
* Has no IGP

Intel is also moving to 10nm SuperFin (formerly 10++) for its Atom nodes, making these the next 10nm-class Atom processors after Intel’s Snow Ridge for 5G networks.

Intel has since updated and told us that these products use the same 10nm process as Ice Lake.

Focusing on IoT Features

Previous embedded processors like this were perhaps not always focused with the Edge market or the IoT market in mind. This time around however, Intel states that these products have been built from the ground up with this market in mind. This lends itself to a number of IoT-specific features.

There is now a new Programmable Services Engine to offload IoT workloads. This is a dedicated ARM processor, specifically an Arm Cortex M7, that supports real-time functionality, network synchronization, time sensitive networking, and low compute requirement workloads without needing to fire up the bigger cores. Some of the models support Time Coordinated Computing to enable worst-case execution time (WCET) and ultra-reliable low-latency communication (URLLC)

Two processors, the Atom x6427FE and x6200FE, are FuSa certified and support Intel’s Safety Island technology to allow integrated functional safety within IP blocks for finding and flagging faults, as well as initiating internal diagnostic tests.

All of these CPUs have three integrated 2.5 GbE MACs, all of which can be enabled for time-sensitive networking. The cores have Intel’s SHA extensions, as well as AES-NI and Intel Secure Key. Note that Intel is the only x86 vendors who does not have SHA-acceleration hardware, instead deciding to rely on instruction-level optimization.

The new processors all support Intel’s OpenVINO toolkit, with pre-optimized libraries for AI, ML, and computer vision acceleration. This is on top of Intel’s new Edge Software Hub, an interface for OEM customers to acquire pre-optimized deployment-ready software packages optimized for Industrial, Retail and Vision, all of which also offer customizability.

OS support is listed as Windows 10 IoT Enterprise, Yocto Project BSP, Linux Ubuntu, Wind River Linux LTS, and Android 10. The boot firmware supports Intel Slim Bootloader as well as coreboot, and the Programmable Services Engine runes on Intel’s own Zephyr RTOS-based platform.

For performance, Intel is claiming 1.7x single thread over two-generation old Apollo Lake Atoms, and 1.5x in multi-threaded workloads. Graphics performance gen-on-gen is listed as 2x. These numbers come from SPEC2006int and 3DMark11, but are based on pre-silicon projections of the new hardware (and it seems odd it wasn't compared to the Gemini Lake hardware). This would suggest that Intel doesn’t have the silicon in the labs yet to run the tests, which is a little odd if this is the launch day. Nonetheless, these platforms have a 7+ year lifecycle.

Click to zoom

Intel confirmed that the CPU-to-PCH connection is not DMI in this instance, but just OPIO. The chipset will support eight lanes of PCIe 3.0, four USB 3.1 ports, ten USB 2.0 ports, and two UFS 2.0 ports.

For package, Intel stated that all models will be FCBGA1493 and measure 35x24mm. Interestingly enough, this means we can calculate estimates for the die size.

  • CPU die (left): 9.169 mm * 6.394 mm = 58.63 mm2
  • PCH die (right): 6.369 mm * 9.778 mm = 62.27 mm2

The CPU is built on 10nm Superfin, the PCH die is built on 14nm. Note that in our recent review of the Tiger Lake UP3 processor, the PCH die for that processor with callipers was measured at 56.4 mm2. Given the rough nature of how we calculate these things, I might be inclined to believe that this mockup of Elkhart Lake might simply be the PCH die rotated and changed slightly, rather than a true-to-life example of the processor.

There's no word from Intel when these might be coming to low-power consumer products. Being built on 10SF, I suspect that the die cost might be higher than what we're normally used to. These new parts were announced as part of Intel's Industrial Summit, and as such these product managers wouldn't necessarily know what the client division would be preparing with the same silicon.

But Wait, There’s More!

Intel isn’t only announcing these new 10nm Atoms today. For the embedded applications that need more performance, there will be versions of the Tiger Lake UP3 mobile processors also for embedded markets. These are the same as the client versions of the processors, however with lower peak turbo frequencies. There will be a focus on enabling industrial workloads though the Xe graphics, AVX-512 units, and onboard neural accelerators. Real Time Computing will be enabled on the Industrial parts.

Intel Core Embedded CPUs
Tiger Lake-UP3
AnandTech Cores Base
General Embedded
i7-1185G7E 4C/8T 1200 4400 96 No 12-28W 0-100
i5-1145G7E 4C/8T 1100 4100 80 No 12-28W 0-100
i3-1115G4E 2C/4T 1700 3900 48 No 12-28W 0-100
Industrial Embedded
i7-1185GRE 4C/8T 1200 4400 96 Yes 12-28W -40-100
i5-1145GRE 4C/8T 1100 4100 80 Yes 12-28W -40-100
i3-1115GRE 2C/4T 1700 3900 48 Yes 12-28W -40-100

All three are also offered with In-Band ECC and a -40ºC to 100ºC temperature window, however these have the same SKU names as the ones we've already listed. Just to confuse things.

Update: Turns out the documents we were given ahead of the launch had a number of typos in the specifications. The article has been updated.

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  • CajunArson - Wednesday, September 23, 2020 - link

    The CPU die is smaller than the PCH die?

  • CajunArson - Wednesday, September 23, 2020 - link

    Oh wait... Allow me to apologize. I forgot that the memory controller is on the CPU die since we don't need a northbridge anymore.

  • Jorgp2 - Wednesday, September 23, 2020 - link

    The fuck are you going on about?

    Intel has been doing that since 2012?
  • ilt24 - Wednesday, September 23, 2020 - link

    @CajunArson ... "The CPU die is smaller than the PCH die?"

    Which takes us back to 2009...when Intel introduced Clarksdale/Arrandale.
  • SSNSeawolf - Wednesday, September 23, 2020 - link

    I'm starting to think Intel might have a problem making large, high-frequency silicon on 10nm.
  • shabby - Wednesday, September 23, 2020 - link

    You don't say 😂
  • deil - Wednesday, September 23, 2020 - link

    i wonder why? is it why we have atoms higher than desktops ?
  • JayNor - Wednesday, September 23, 2020 - link

    10nm Ice Lake Servers with 28 cores ...
  • shabby - Wednesday, September 23, 2020 - link

    Vaporware until its out.
  • duploxxx - Thursday, September 24, 2020 - link

    Q1-Q2 2021 expected only for upto 2sockets, even Sapphire Rapids is scheduled for 2021 (2022 availability) so we all know how good the Ice Lake is expected to be...

    Even Milan will be earlier than Ice Lake

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