Intel Core Ultra Meteor Lake Mobile CPUs Launch With Gaming Grade iGPU And AI Brawn

If you’re a regular HotHardware reader, we probably don’t have to explain to you that Intel’s new Core Ultra processors launching today were codenamed Meteor Lake, and that they represent not only Intel’s first “disaggregated” consumer CPUs built from disparate tiles, but also the debut of Intel’s “Intel 4” process technology.

We’re not going to go over the Core Ultra CPUs (Meteor Lake) in precise detail today. That’s both because we’ve already done so once, and also because we have a review coming tomorrow with full benchmarks of the new chips. We’ll talk a bit about Intel’s newborns, though, and share some claims from Chipzilla about its nascent laptop CPUs.

intro intel core ultra

Indeed, the Core Ultra family is currently restricted to mobile machines. As rumored, debunked, and then rumored again earlier this year, Meteor Lake is not coming to a DIY desktop near you. We’re likely to see these parts find their way into all-in-ones, mini-PCs, and other “desktop” machines, but you won’t see this silicon in socketed form. That’ll probably have to wait until Intel’s next-gen CPUs (codenamed Arrow Lake) arrive.

chart core ultra

Let’s skip to the end and check out the models that are launching today as well as a few that will come alongĀ in Q1 of next year. The Core Ultra family comprises eight CPUs currently, four of which are 28W “H” SKUs, and four of which are 15W “U” SKUs. The parts launching next year include a 45W “Core Ultra 9” model as well as a pair of 9W “U” SKUs with curious naming and slightly slashed specifications.

compute tile

On the top-end model launching today, you get six Redwood Cove P-cores, eight Crestmont E-cores, and another pair of “LP E-cores” that are also based on Crestmont, but which live on a different tile from the others. On the CPU side of things, there really aren’t huge changes from Raptor Lake; Intel says that Redwood Cove offers improved efficiency and branch prediction versus Raptor Cove, while Crestmont gains an unspecified amount of IPC over Gracemont as well as support for VNNI AI acceleration instructions.

intel arc gpu

On the other hand, the GPU tile included with Core Ultra CPUs is quite the substantial upgrade from last-gen’s Xe-LP-based integrated graphics. It’s powerful enough that on 28W and 45W SKUs that ship equipped with dual-channel memory, Intel allows vendors to market it as Arc Graphics. The Core Ultra iGPU is actually the debut of the Xe-LPG architecture, which is basically Arc Alchemist without its XMX units. The top-end configuration has eight Xe cores, giving it 1,024 shaders clocked at up to 2.35GHz; that’s basically an Arc A380.

world class graphics

Intel compares the Core Ultra’s graphics against the Xe-LP GPU in a Core i7-1370P and finds that it’s anywhere from 9% to 100% faster, depending on the game. However, the real interesting comparison to us is against AMD’s offerings. AMD has long dunked on Intel in the integrated graphics performance arena, but it looks like that’s coming to an end with Core Ultra. Intel claims that its Core Ultra 7 155H can match the Ryzen 7 7840U across 18 games at 1080p, while the Core Ultra 7 165H seems to be 5% faster. Of course, we’ll be testing that ourselves, but it looks very promising.

three ai engines

AI is undeniably a big deal, and right now every hardware manufacturer is scrambling to prove that its AI acceleration is the best. Intel is no exception, as the company proudly boasts that its Core Ultra processors have no less than three different ways to perform AI processing. Its CPUs (both P- and E-cores now) have VNNI instructions for AI acceleration, its GPU, while lacking XMX tensor units, still supports DP4a math with quite a bit of compute throughput, and of course, there’s also an NPU built into the SoC tile.

application ai performance

Intel doesn’t really talk about the NPU in exclusion, but rather prefers to emphasize the overall AI performance of its Core Ultra processors. The company claims that it beats AMD’s Ryzen 7 7840U by as much as 5.4x in AI benchmarks, although some of the benchmarks here are comparing against its own previous-generation part as the Ryzen chip apparently was not able to complete the test. However, most of these tasks will have been running on the integrated Arc GPU or on the CPUs, not on the NPU.

genai ready

Intel does note that the NPU allows 38% lower power consumption in Zoom video calls and 2.5x power efficiency when doing maths in INT8 format, although the latter is a purely synthetic AI benchmark. We could take the lack of information here to mean that there simply isn’t much software available to make use of the NPU yet; Intel’s list of supported applications above doesn’t specify which part of the processor is doing the work.

available

Intel’s Core Ultra CPUs are available starting today. While AMD has been making inroads, Intel still dominates the laptop market, so it’s no surprise that the company boasts of over 230 unique designs sporting Core Ultra processors on the way from more than 35 OEM customers. The list includes the usual suspects: Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, MSI, Gigabyte, ASUS, Samsung, and so on. Interestingly Google and Microsoft are also listed as customers; likely we’ll see Core Ultra CPUs in Chromebooks and Surface machines sooner than later.

end core ultra processor

We have a laptop with a Core Ultra processor in hand as we write this, but as we’ve only just received it, we don’t have any benchmarks of our own nor a review to share with you just yet. We’ll be working furiously throughout the night to prepare that data, so sit tight if you’re curious to see what Intel’s latest is capable of. If you’re chomping at the bit for more info and some bencharks though, check out our live demo with Intel from yesterday…

Many questions are answered in this livestream, and a number of benchmarks are run versus competitive laptops for the first time in a public forum. Give that video a watch and stop by tomorrow for out full review with independant benchmarks.