Intel reveals their 10nm Sunny Cove CPU architecture

Intel reveals their 10nm Sunny Cove CPU architecture

Intel reveals their 10nm Sunny Cove CPU architecture

The past few years have been troubling for Intel, with the delays of their 10nm process resulting in four hardware generations which lacked IPC increases, relying on increased core counts and clock speeds to deliver performance boosts over their predecessors. 

Now, Intel has announced their next x86 CPU architecture, Sunny Cove, which is set to release in Core and Xeon forms in 2019 using 10nm lithography. At this time it is unknown what happened to Intel’s previously announced Ice lake CPU architecture, though it is likely that Sunny Cove is similar to, or perhaps a renamed version of Ice Lake.   

At their recent architectures and technologies day, Intel didn’t discuss Cannon Lake, suggesting that Intel has decided to skip their previously announced Skylake successor in favour of newer designs. With Sunny Cove, Intel plans to deliver IPC boosts to enhance single-threaded performance over Coffee Lake, making no mention of clock speed. 

This move makes sense given the clock speeds of Intel’s 9th generation processors, which have been pushed to the limits of what 14nm can offer. With Sunny Cove, Intel plans to reduce latencies thanks to new algorithms, increase parallelism with the addition of more execution units and increase the size of each CPU cache to speed up data-centric workloads.   

Intel has not committed to specific IPC increases, though they have called the boost “significant”. A larger than normal boost makes a lot of sense for this release, as Intel has mostly recycled their desktop-grade Skylake architectures since 2015, giving Intel’s design teams plenty of time to work on enhanced 10nm core designs. 

With Sunny Cove Intel has also created extensions that are designed to accelerate specific workloads, specifically targetting cryptography workloads such as vector AES and SHA-NI, and other use cases such as compression and decompression. 


Intel reveals their 10nm Sunny Cove CPU architecture


Thanks to larger cache sizes, reduced latencies and increase parallelism, Intel hopes that their Sunny Cove designs will offer performance enhancements in workloads that extend to both gaming and workstation-grade applications.

After Sunny Cove, Intel plans to release Willow Cove, which will feature a redesigned cache, new transistor optimisations and enhanced security features. Intel did not discuss Spectre mitigations when speaking about Sunny Cove, suggesting that firmware-based enhancements will still be required with Intel’s next-generation products.     

Beyond Willow Cove, Golden Cove is set to increase single threaded performance further, add AI performance into Intel’s CPUs and deliver “Network/5G performance”, which will be a big factor for Intel’s future mobile processor designs. Golden Cove is expected in 2021. 

You can join the discussion on Intel’s Sunny Cove architecture and future CPU designs on the OC3D Forums.