Intel Tiger Lake – Second generation 10nm for laptops

Intel revealed its Tiger Lake processors for laptops at an online event with a special role for DJ Diplo. Intel already shared many of the technical details about these first members of the 11th Gen Core family during the Intel Architecture Day, but concrete information such as which models the lineup consists of was still missing at the time. According to Intel, Tiger Lake offers 20 percent better CPU performance than its predecessor and the GPU has even become twice as fast.

The top model in the line will be the Core i7-1185G7, with four Willow Cove cores at 3GHz with a turbo up to 4.8GHz. That’s much higher than the 1.3GHz and 3.9GHz respectively of its Ice Lake-based predecessor, the Core i7-1065G7. The GPU has also been thoroughly renewed; based on the Xe-LP architecture, there are 96 execution units present, half more than Ice Lake. Moreover, they are also clocked higher.

Two variants of Tiger Lake will appear: UP3 (aka Tiger Lake-U) with a configurable TDP of 12 to 28 watts and UP4 (Tiger Lake-Y) for thin, light notebooks with a TDP between 7 and 15 watts. As usual, the tdp limits are temporarily released when the processor is in turbo mode: consumption can then briefly peak up to 50 watts, Intel says. Naturally, the cooling and power supply of a laptop must allow this.

Tiger Lake-U ‘UP3’

Fashion model cores/threads Clock Freq. Single/all core turbo GPU / Max. clock freq. L3 cache TDP Memory
Core i7-1185G7 4 / 8 3.0GHz 4.8 / 4.3GHz 96 eus @ 1.35 GHz 12MB 12 – 28 W ddr4-3200
Core i7-1165G7 4 / 8 2.8GHz 4.7 / 4.1GHz 96 eus @ 1.3 GHz 12MB 12 – 28 W ddr4-3200
Core i5-1135G7 4 / 8 2.4GHz 4.2/3.8GHz 80 eus @ 1.3 GHz 8MB 12 – 28 W ddr4-3200
Core i3-1125G4* 4 / 8 2.0GHz 3.7 / 3.3GHz 48 eus @ 1.25 GHz 8MB 12 – 28 W ddr4-3200
Core i3-1115G4 2 / 4 3.0GHz 4.1 / 4.1GHz 48 eus @ 1.25 GHz 6MB 12 – 28 W ddr4-3200

Tiger Lake-Y ‘UP4’

Fashion model cores/threads Clock Freq. Single/all core turbo GPU / Max. clock freq. L3 cache TDP Memory
Core i7-1160G7 4 / 8 1.2GHz 4.4/3.6GHz 96 eus @ 1.1 GHz 12MB 7 – 15 W lpddr4x-4266
Core i5-1130G7 4 / 8 1.1GHz 4.0 / 3.4GHz 80 eus @ 1.1 GHz 8MB 7 – 15 W lpddr4x-4266
Core i3-1120G4* 4 / 8 1.1GHz 3.5 / 3.0GHz 48 eus @ 1.1 GHz 8MB 7 – 15 W lpddr4x-4266
Core i3-1110G4 2 / 4 1.8GHz 3.9 / 3.9GHz 48 eus @ 1.1 GHz 6MB 7 – 15 W lpddr4x-4266

* = appears later

Just like with Ice Lake, Tiger Lake offers a maximum of four cores, while the Core i3 series even has a few dual cores. That is in stark contrast to the eight cores offered by AMD’s most luxurious Ryzen processors in this segment. During the presentation, Intel made a striking number of comparisons with the red camp and emphasized that ‘not all cores are created equal’.

Willow Cove CPU cores and Xe-LP GPU

Tiger Lake brings innovation in both the CPU and GPU areas. We already went into this in detail in our earlier background story , so we will stick to the most important highlights for now.

After Sunny Cove, Willow Cove is the second generation 10nm core to go into mass production at Intel. A new iteration of the production process is also used for this, which is known internally as 10nm++, but is presented to the outside world as ’10nm SuperFin’. Thanks to various modifications in the transistor construction, this intermediate gap should offer almost as much extra performance as a completely new node usually does. Partly because of this, Willow Cove has a much larger ‘range’ in its v/f curve, the range in clock speed and consumption within which the processor can operate. This improvement is immediately reflected in the significantly increased clock frequencies.

In the build of the core , the main difference is that the l2 cache per core has increased to 1.25 MB. For comparison: Sunny Cove and AMD’s Zen-core have 512 KB of cache per core, previous Intel generations had even half that: 256 KB.

The GPU not only has half the number of computing units, but is also the first Intel product to use the Xe architecture. To be precise, it concerns Xe-LP, the variant tuned for low power consumption. Compared to the Gen11 GPU in Ice Lake, the internal structure of an eu has been completely overhauled , while the caches and the media and display engines have also been tinkered with. For example, AV1 video can be hardware decoded and four monitors can be controlled simultaneously. Finally, software also contributes to the GPU, which is up to twice as fast, according to Intel, including a DirectX 11 driver redesigned from scratch.

Dual ring bus, memory and I/O

All parts of the Tiger Lake chip, including 12 MB of L3 cache, must of course be able to communicate with each other. For this purpose, Intel has been using the so-called ring bus architecture for many years, as it were a ring road that passes the processor cores, caches and gpu, among other things. For Tiger Lake, Intel is switching to a double ring structure, which was previously sometimes used for high-core-count processors.

However, when asked by us, Boyd Phelps, corporate vp of Intel’s Devices Development Group, replied that the goal in this case is more bandwidth for the accelerated gpu, increased cache, and improved memory controller. The gains with the improved 10nm process allowed the ringbus to be doubled without significantly increasing its power consumption, while avoiding bottlenecking.

Now that we’ve made that bridge, the memory controller in Tiger Lake offers support for lpddr4x-4267 and ddr4-3200, with the option of allowing future models to also work with ddr5-5400. Intel expects the first laptops with DDR5 to be in stores next year.

On the I/O side, Intel has integrated Thunderbolt 4 and USB 4 with up to 40 Gb/s bandwidth per port, plus the ability to output the video signal from a discrete video card via USB-C. The pci-express controller has been upgraded to version 4.0, which only concerns the lanes that are supplied directly by the cpu (and therefore not via the chipset). As with Ice Lake, Wifi 6 is also integrated.


Intel said the first laptops with Tiger Lake will go on sale in early October, with 50 devices to be in stores before Christmas, with 100 more designs on the way. Of these, twenty qualify for the new ‘evo’ label, which requires laptops to meet many modern specifications, including having ‘the best processors in the world’ – an Intel in other words. People didn’t want to say anything about a possible 14nm series with more cores, such as Comet Lake existed next to Ice Lake – but rumors about such a ‘Rocket Lake-U’ series are certainly there.

Various laptop manufacturers have already shown their first models with Tiger Lake CPUs as part of the IFA – which is mainly taking place virtually this year. For example, Acer showed (again) its new Swift 5 , which, in addition to the new CPU, has a larger touch screen with an ‘antibacterial’ coating, an Nvidia MX350 video chip, and weighs less than 1 kg. Asus in turn announced two new top models in the ZenBook series, a convertible and a ‘regular’ laptop. The latter, with its 3:2 screen and relatively large battery, is perhaps the most interesting. For business users there is the ExpertBook B9, a magnesium device that (in its lightest configuration) weighs 880 g. Perhaps the most striking laptops come from Lenovo, which are 14 “laptops and convertible Yoga Slim 9i features a leather finish and a glass palm rest with an integrated touchpad. Other new Yoga convertibles are also based on the new Tiger Lake chips.

The processor manufacturer says it is far from ready for this year. This year, the company will introduce new Celeron and Pentium processors, launch its first Xe-based discrete video card DG1 – although it is actually Tiger Lake’s igpu on an add-in card – and business vPro variants of the 11th generation of Core chips.