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Intel: Please buy these new 13th-Gen CPUs, now with 24 cores

Look folks, we need the business - there's a recession on

CES Intel is cutting billions in costs amid a downturn in sales, but the show must go on, so the x86 giant is hoping it can rekindle interest in the PC market with the first 24-core chips for laptops and more affordable desktop CPUs.

At CES on Tuesday, the American chipmaker announced a total of 32 laptop CPUs, 16 desktop processors, and a handful of entry-level parts that would have bore the Pentium and Celeron brands if it wasn't for the confusing rebrand last year that resulted in the vague "Intel Processor" name.

Like the initial Core i9, i7 and i5 desktop silicon that debuted with the 13th generation last September, Intel is claiming that these new CPUs, based on its Raptor Lake microarchitecture, will provide a meaningful performance boost over the previous generation. The previous 12th generation, based on the Alder Lake microarchitecture, introduced Intel's latest hybrid approach that relies on so-called performance cores for applications and efficiency cores for background tasks.

For some laptops entering the market this year, Intel is also introducing new hardware and software features.

Select laptops with 13th-Gen Core CPUs will come with a Movidius vision processing unit (VPU), which will offload "AI-heavy" tasks for streaming and collaboration apps from the CPU and GPU, thanks to joint engineering efforts by Intel and Microsoft. If the Movidius name sounds familiar, that's because it used to be at the forefront of Intel's computer vision efforts for embedded devices until the company largely stopped talking about VPUs in that market segment over the past few years.

Some models will also carry Intel Unison, new proprietary software that promises a "seamless multidevice experience" for sending texts, making phone calls, transferring files, and receiving phone notifications from Android and iOS devices. The software can apparently only run on laptops with Intel processors that meet the high-level specifications set in the Intel Evo engineering program, but someone reportedly managed to get the system working on an Arm-based laptop.

All of this is happening against the backdrop of a continued slump in PC sales that has dragged down the revenues of Intel and rivals AMD and Nvidia. For Intel, the slowdown has coincided with a major downturn in server revenue, which prompted the company to launch a multibillion-dollar cost-cutting initiative last October that will include a "meaningful number" of layoffs and some product cuts.

13th-Gen expands to a slew of laptop types

Intel's new 13th-Gen Core chips for laptops will come in three different flavors. The first is the H-series, which consists of power-hungry chips for high-performance notebooks aimed at gamers and content creators. This where you'll the find the company's fastest mobile chips on the market.

The other two laptop segments for the 13th generation are focused on ultrathin laptops. The P-series comes with more horsepower thanks to a higher ratio of performance cores to efficiency units while the U-series comes with a lower ratio of performance cores to efficiency systems and so requires less energy.

At the top of the H-series stack is the Core i9-13980HX, which has the following:

  • 8P/16E cores, 32 threads, with a max boost clock of 5.GHz, 36MB of L3 cache, an integrated graphics frequency of 1.65GHz, and 32 graphics execution units.

Intel claimed that the i9-13980HX provides 11 percent faster single-threaded performance and 49 percent faster multitasking compared to last generation's i9- 12900HX, making it the claimed "fastest mobile processor as of December 2022." As always, it's best to reserve judgement until independent reviews and test results are published.

There are eight other HX processors in the H-series, ranging from 24 to 10 cores total across i9, i7, and i5 models. All HX chips support DDR5 and DDR4 memory and PCIe 5.0 connectivity, and they all have a base power of 55 watts and a maximum power of 157 watts if you want to get the most performance.

Slightly down the performance rung is the vanilla H-series chips, which range from 14 to eight cores total and top out at a 5.4GHz maximum turbo frequency for the performance cores. These chips have slightly lower power requirements, with a 45-watt base power for all vanilla H-series chips, a 115-watt maximum for the i9 and i7 chips, and a 95-watt maximum for the i5 chips in the stack.

For people who don't need a gaming laptop, there are the P-series and U-series. The top chips of the respective stacks have the following specs:

  • Core i7-1370P: 6P/8E cores, 20 threads, with a max boost clock of 5.2GHz, 24MB of L3 cache, an integrated graphics frequency of 1.5GHz, and 96 graphics executive units.
  • Core i7-1365U: 2P/8E cores, 12 threads, with a max boost clock of 5.2GHz, 12MB of L3 cache, an integrated graphics frequency of 1.3GHz, and 96 graphics execution units.

The P-series chips, which include one other i7 model and two i5s, have a base power of 28 watts and a maximum turbo power of 64 watts. The U-series has a base power of 15 watts and a maximum turbo power of 55 watts. The U-series chips range from i7 to i3, and they also include an entry-level part with the generic name of Intel Processor U300, the new brand for chips previously called Pentium and Celeron.

While the P-series and U-series don't have as much horsepower as the H-series chips, Intel claimed they still have some gaming bona fides thanks their use of Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics, which includes support for the company's XeSS super sampling technology that can boost frame rates in games. The chips support DDR5 and DDR4 memories as well as their low-power variants.

Intel fills out 13th-Gen desktop stack

Intel launched the 13th-Gen Core family last September with only three desktop CPUs: the i9-13900K, i7-13700K, and i5-13600K, which have a recommended retail price of $589, $409, and $319, respectively. Now it's filling out the rest of the stack with more affordable options across all performance tiers.

For instance, those who want to spend a little less on an i9 can now choose to go with an i9-13900 which, unlike the i9-13900K, isn't unlocked for overclocking and so has a lower price of $549. A slightly cheaper option is the i9-13900F, which, in addition to lacking overclocking, has integrated graphics disabled and costs $524.

This is a theme that runs throughout the rest of the expanded 13th-Gen desktop lineup: processors that can't be overclocked and don't have integrated graphics enabled. This means you'll also have i7s and i5s that are cheaper than their unlocked counterparts with on-board GPUs. The stack also has an i3 with and without integrated graphics enabled, ranging from $109 to $134.

All these processors have a mix of performance cores and efficiency cores, except for the two i3 chips in the stack, which each have only four performance cores. They all support DDR5 and DDR4 memories.

As for energy requirements, all the chips except the i3s have a base power of 65 watts, and the maximum turbo power goes from 148 watts for an i5 to 219 watts for the two new i9s. The two i3s only consume up to 89 watts. With integrated graphics, the i3 requires at least 60 watts; without, it's 58 watts.

Intel's latest desktop push includes T-series variants of the latest chips that require less power in exchange for slower clock speeds across the i3, i5, i7, and i9 tiers.

Intel intros first 'Intel Processor' chips, sows more confusion

The real oddity of the Intel's CES announcement are the company's new entry-level chips, half of which bear the name "Intel Processor."

Some of these chips used to have the Pentium and Celeron names in previous generations, but last September, Intel announced that it was ditching the brands and switching to the Intel Processor naming convention to "sharpen" its focus on its flagship Core and vPro products.

We already called out the Intel Processor U300 mobile chip, which is listed as part of the U-series for ultrathin laptops, right under the i3 in terms of performance.

The other entry-level processors are considered part of the N-series, and they're targeted for both laptops and desktops. They consist of the Intel Core i3-N305, the Intel Core i3-N300, the Intel Processor N200, and the Intel Processor N100.

What separates the Intel Processor U300 from the N-series chips are power requirements, performance, and the fact that only the latter uses both performance and efficiency cores.

Whereas the Intel Processor U300 has one performance core and four efficiency cores, the N-series chips only use efficiency cores — the Intel Processors each have four cores while the two i3s in the N-series each have eight cores. The use of efficiency cores means the N-series chips have lower clock speeds as well as lower power requirements, which range from 6 to 15 watts. In comparison, the Intel Processor U300 has a base power of 15 watts and maximum turbo power of 55 watts.

All of this sets up even more potential confusion for buyers of entry-level laptops. Do you want an i3 laptop? Well, you could go with an i3 from the P-series, U-series, or N-series, depending on how on fast and efficient you need it to be. Need something leaner?

You could go with the Intel Processor U300, which is in the U-series. Or you could do with an Intel Processor N200 or N100 for really low-power needs. Yes, the i3 is an Intel processor but not an Intel Processor. Make sense?

Having a wide range of CPU options can help users find the right products that fit their specific needs, so Intel better hope the dizzying array of processor names won't hold back efforts to rekindle PC sales. ®

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