At Intel’s 2018 Architecture Day, on Tuesday, the chip-maker intimated a new direction for its hardware. The latest announcement was something called Sunny Cove. This is a new design for CPU architecture which will be used by chips that rely on Intel’s existing 10-nanometer manufacturing process nodes. Sunny Cove is related to Intel’s Skylake CPU core architecture, which has been in use—though in different forms—since 2015; but Sunny Cove promises more instructions per clock (IPC). This is the ability to increase operational performance in parallel. Sunny Cove also promises more memory caches per core as well as new instructions which will result in improved performance for new-age operations like cryptography, compression, and machine learning workloads.
As a matter of fact, one of the biggest problems Intel encountered was the previous 10-nanometer manufacturing process. This previous process was for the Cannon Lake chips, which are still set to ship out in volume within the next month or so. However, Intel comments that these issues go back to the earlier iterations of 10-nm from 2014 and the lithography that was available at the time.
This is quite an important development for Intel, who has faced a pretty rough year. Hindered by major departures, security issues, and slow sales—at least, when compared with competitors—this announcement could be the beginning of the turnaround they need.
This turnaround is a three-pronged attack. First of all, Intel is developing new, integrated GPUs. Secondly, Intel is developing the new CPU architecture (Skylake). And finally, Intel is developing a new way to design the chips so they can make processors that are more flexible and, most important, as scalable as those made by AMD.
According to Intel chief engineering officer and head of technology, systems architecture, and client group—Dr. Murthy Renduchiuntala—Intel has two different teams working on the 10nm and the 7nm chip designs. He points out that Intel’s earlier troubles with the 10nm chip designs do not apply to the work being done on the 7nm; and that the introduction of Sunny Cove redirects Intel’s stronger grasp on the design.