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The survivors: Intel's Apollo Lake netbook CPUs stagger from Goldmont bloodbath

And into your Xmas stocking

Amid the Kaby Lake noise this week, Intel slipped out six processors, codenamed Apollo Lake, for cheapo netbooks, tablet-laptop mutants and small PC boxes.

These are 14nm low-power system-on-chips that use the x86 Goldmont architecture, and are branded Pentiums and Celerons.

In April, Intel axed its Goldmont-based Broxton Atoms that were due to go into smartphones, and separately canned the Goldmont-powered Willow Trail Atom line that was aimed at tablets – but it allowed the netbook-friendly Apollo Lake family to live on.

Therefore, here are the Goldmont-Apollo Lake survivors:

Name Cores/Threads GHz GPU Max GPU MHz Max RAM Max Power
Celeron N3450 4/4 1.1-2.2 HD 500 700 8GB 6W
Celeron N3350 2/2 1.1-2.4 HD 500 650 8GB 6W
Pentium N4200 4/4 1.1-2.5 HD 505 750 8GB 6W
Celeron J3355 2/2 2.0-2.5 HD 500 700 6GB 10W
Celeron J3455 4/4 1.5-2.3 HD 500 750 6GB 10W
Pentium J4205 4/4 1.5-2.6 HD 505 800 8GB 10W

The Pentium J4205, Celeron J3455 and Celeron J3355 are aimed at desktops, while the Pentium N4200, Celeron N3450 and Celeron N3350 are aimed at slabtops and netbooks.

All of them have 2MB of cache, six PCIe 2 lanes, 12 to 18 GPU execution units depending on the model, LPDDR3 and LPDDR4 interfaces, and hardware decoding for H.264, HEVC, VP9, VC-1 and WMV9. The SoCs also have the usual builtin USB 2 and 3 controller, SATA ports, and so on.

The kicker really is the included VP9 and HEVC/H.265 acceleration, allowing your battery-reliant device to stream high-def video from YouTube et al for longer before your charge runs out.

Intel has had to down-clock its Apollo Lake CPU cores from the previous generation Braswell, also 14nm, to keep the power usage at a sensible level while integrating ninth-generation HD Graphics, the beefier video decoding, and other bits and pieces. Apollo Lake's max power consumption is 10W versus the 6.5W by Braswell, which uses eighth-gen HD Graphics.

To make up for this reduction in frequency – down from the Braswell's 1.6GHz base – Chipzilla has had to pack various optimizations into the Goldmont architecture. According to SYSmark 2014 benchmark figures seen by Anandtech, the Apollo Lake N4200 is 30 per cent faster than the top-end Braswell N3710 in terms of CPU performance, and 45 per cent faster in terms of GPU performance. Given that there's a decent improvement, Goldmont is obviously doing something right to offset the drop in clock speed.

You can expect these chips to appear in bargain-basement gear in time for the Christmas rush. ®

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