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Intel starts shipping first 10nm ‘Cannon Lake’ processor with 32GB LPDDR4 RAM support

Intel’s much-anticipated, and oft-delayed, 10nm processors have finally surfaced. The 10nm processor has popped up in a Lenovo Ideapad 330. Spotted on a Chinese website, JD.com, one can see the Laptop boasts the Cannon Lake architecture processor, which is a low-end notebook that comes with 4GB of memory and a 500GB HDD.

Post this alleged launch, Details about the capabilities of Intel’s “Cannon Lake” can be easily seen. The chip family will ultimately allow Apple to add a 32-gigabyte RAM option to its MacBook and MacBook Pro lines.

The dual-core Core i3-8121U sports the Cannon Lake architecture, but the integrated graphics are either disabled or not present. As a result, the notebook comes with RX540 graphics. We followed up with Intel, which confirmed that the chips are only on sale in China. The company didn’t specify any date for possible U.S. distribution, but it shared the full specs of the new processor.

Intel has been known for shifting to smaller processors and better and newer architectures, however, the 10nm process has proven to be its biggest challenge.

Cannon Lake – the first chips to use the 10nm process – was previously expected back in 2017. In early 2017, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich had promised to deliver 10nm within twelve months. Even that was a delay in itself: the chip company had first started suggesting that 10nm silicon would come in 2015.

Intel first planned on delivering processors based on the smaller process in 2015, but now it has pushed high volume manufacturing back to 2019 due to yield issues that make the end products too expensive for mass production.

Last month, Intel accepted that its roadmap was more ambitious than it could actually deliver on. Rather than a full line-up of Cannon Lake processors, it admitted, there would be just one. “Intel is currently shipping low-volume 10 nm product and now expects 10 nm volume production to shift to 2019,” the company said at the time declining all the details about whom the processor was shipped to.

MacBook Pro current generation is limited to using up to 16 gigabytes of RAM because of the fact the Intel processors used don’t have a 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.

The Core i3-8121U comes equipped with Turbo Boost 2.0, much like its closest cousin, the Kaby Lake Core i3-8130U. Both chips feature the same 15W TDP, but the Cannon Lake model comes with a 200 MHz lower Turbo Boost frequency, which could be offset by increased IPC. The Core i3-8121U has a few new notable additions, such as 16 lanes of PCIe 3.0, which is an improvement over the Kaby Lake model’s 12 lanes. Intel also included support for up to 32GB of LPDDR4, which yields higher memory bandwidth than the Kaby Lake model.

For now, the Core i3-8121U will be Intel’s primary unit as it improves its 10nm process. The relatively unimpressive dual-core chip is also rumored to surface in the upcoming Crimson Canyon NUC next month.

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