Intel Apollo Lake SoCs sip less power and offer more performance

At the Intel Developer Forum in Shenzen last week, Intel announced Apollo Lake, a new family of SoCs that will replace Cherry Trail parts. This low-cost SoC family appears to continue the trend of minor performance and power improvements that we have come to expect from Intel's generational releases. Intel says Apollo Lake SoCs will become available in the second half of this year under the Atom, Celeron, and Pentium brands.

According to Anandtech, Apollo Lake will be built on a new microarchitecture code-named Goldmont. Goldmont is etched onto silicon using the same 14-nm process as Intel used for the Airmont cores in Cherry Trail SoCs. The SoC’s graphics block gets an upgrade to Intel’s Generation 9 graphics technology. This gives Apollo Lake the same generation of graphics resources as Skylake CPUs, a change that should yield some performance and power use improvements.

Intel is pushing this SoC family to OEMs as a major improvement in power efficiency and cost. Intel claims that Apollo Lake PCs will be able to use smaller batteries while maintaining similar battery life, further reducing the overall platform cost.  While Intel says Apollo Lake will deliver some performance improvements, the company hasn't disclosed any specific numbers yet.

Intel expects Apollo Lake SoCs to power affordable 2-in-1s, tablets, and ultraportables. These systems should all benefit from Apollo Lake's improvements in power consumption and performance, and they could be thinner and lighter thanks to the decrease in the size of the part's physical package. Intel says "cloudbooks"—systems with limited onboard storage and operating systems like Chrome OS or Windows—will be an important market for Apollo Lake parts. Makers of entry-level laptops and all-in-ones also stand to benefit from the reduced cost and improved performance of the SoC.

Comments closed
    • ronch
    • 3 years ago

    Any word if these things will make their way into Android tablets?

    Edit – oh…

    • tsk
    • 3 years ago

    So they gave up on phones and tablets?
    At least that’s what I’m getting from the announcement.

      • biffzinker
      • 3 years ago

      [quote<]Intel expects Apollo Lake SoCs to power affordable 2-in-1s, [b<]tablets[/b<], and ultraportables.[/quote<]

        • tsk
        • 3 years ago

        Well I mean Android powered touch devices. They are probably talking about Windows tablets here right?

          • biffzinker
          • 3 years ago

          I don’t see any reason for Android to be excluded. Smartphones I’m guessing would get a down clocked/under voltage version of Goldmont if they do show up in smartphones.

      • Ninjitsu
      • 3 years ago

      Afaik they’ve mostly given up on phones, but not on tablets (Android or Windows).

    • mtruchado
    • 3 years ago

    Currently I’m very disappointed with intel’s Braswell architecture. I have here an Asrock Beebox N300 and this thing simply can’t do 1080p, I tried with intel’s latest and greatest 1.7.0 VAAPI lib and when playing a bluray I experience a lot of frame drops, so I don’t expect cherry trail or apollo lake to do any better. If you are looking for a SoC, look for AMD’s A4-5000 kabini. CPU power is comparable with an intel J1900, but the GPU has no possible comparison and works flawlessly

      • Sahrin
      • 3 years ago

      Wish MS would launch a line of AMD-powered Surfaces. No reason to pay that much of an Intel premium for a device like that.

        • ronch
        • 3 years ago

        That would be nice but AMD’s current chips suck the same amount of juice while giving you less performance. Can’t say I’d choose those over Intel-powered offerings unless the price diff makes them compelling enough.

      • chuckula
      • 3 years ago

      [quote<]In both cases, the ASRock Beebox / Braswell has no problem in playing back our test streams without frame drops. Note that we have not tested out HEVC decoding and rendering - we still believe that, despite the 4K output capabilities, the core platform needs a more well-rounded set of features before it can be recommended for a 4K HTPC setup. Braswell doesn't have HDMI 2.0 or HDCP 2.2, and can't decode HEVC Main10 profile videos even in hybrid decode mode. However, given the $220 price, it is not a big deal.[/quote<] [url<]http://anandtech.com/show/9434/asrock-beebox-review-a-fanless-braswell-ucff-pc/5[/url<] That was using a lower-end 2 core Braswell model, BTW. Considering your Blu Rays aren't 4K, I think the problem is in software, not hardware.

        • mtruchado
        • 3 years ago

        Is there any difference? I don’t care if Intel is able to do a CPU that under laboratory can play 1080p and them they keep it for themselves. I’m using their latest library from here:

        [url<]https://cgit.freedesktop.org/vaapi/intel-driver/tree/[/url<] so if is there any problem with the software, is the software that they provide the one who has the issue, but as a customer I don't really care, I feel cheated, even in the box they claim that It can, but no, It actually can't By the way, deactivating VAAPI and using only the CPU (something you should never do, but It is a good test to prove that at least the GPU is up, running and doing what It is supposed to do) the results are a completely disaster

      • Chrispy_
      • 3 years ago

      You don’t have Braswell, you have runt-Braswell at the bottom of the pile which is a harvested, broken chip that is more disabled parts than it is working. Half of the cores, cache, memory controller and graphics are disabled on your N300 and the clockspeeds are down whilst the power consumption is up.

      What you’re doing is the same as criticising all Haswell processors based on the lowly [url=http://ark.intel.com/products/78955<]Celeron G1820[/url<] which has something like 1/4 the performance of an i7 Haswell and is missing a boatload of key features.

        • mtruchado
        • 3 years ago

        Sorry but It is actually the only Nseries that I could put my hands on. I’m trying to get an N3710 but still I couldn’t get one.

        One of the reasons I choose the N3000 is that It is the only BeeBox that does not make any use of fans, which is what you are looking when building an HTPC.

        As I said, the biggest problem is that biostar got a Kabini A4-5000 m-itx with no fans, and that thing is unbeatable for playing videos and multimedia.

      • solo_clipper
      • 3 years ago

      I have the Asrock N3150DC-ITX and have no problem with 1080p. Loaded with Win7 x64, 8gb ram. What kernel are you on, I think you need at least 4.1. I have not tried any flavor of Linux yet.

        • mtruchado
        • 3 years ago

        4.5. With 4.1 you can’t even use It unless It is a very patched 4.1 branch. There are GPU hangs everywhere and completely system hangs unless you disable the C6 CPU mode (set in the bios C1 maximum if you don’t want to see your system crashing after 2 minutes of usage). Please take a look at the DRI issue tracker, It is like a Zoo of people complaining about crashes, video glitches and low performance. Still using the cutting edge 4.5 kernel and VAAPI 1.7.0 have the same results: a lot of video issues… but at least the system is stable, but the performance is horror, so if It is true that in other platforms It can play 1080p, Intel has a lot of work to do in order to improve the performance on their vaapi lib.

          • biffzinker
          • 3 years ago

          mtruchado, is some of the trouble your running into related to this?
          [quote=”Michael Larabel”<]To many users, Intel's codename of Bay Trail for the recent Atom SoCs would be more accurate if it was named Bay Fail. While my Bay Trail Linux experiences had been positive, a Phoronix reader wrote in this morning to tell me about some widespread Bay Trail Linux kernel troubles that have been happening for the past year and also impact Braswell. Kernels newer than Linux 3.16 are able to cause random X session freezes. This issue has occurred on many different notebooks, tablets, desktops, and other Bay Trail devices. The particular user that wrote in reportedly has 16 systems affected by this issue. [/quote<] Source Link: [url<]http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=Intel-Linux-Bay-Trail-Fail[/url<]

            • mtruchado
            • 3 years ago

            This is the point!, I have a J1900 box here with the old and venerable Bay Trail-D. The same video plays PERFECT with a 18% of cpu usage at maximum. I know that a J1900 is a higher level CPU, also It has 4 cores instead of 2, so you can’t compare both, but still, I was expecting far far more from what I got from this N3000. Seriously guys, Intel’s Braswell is not worth it, at least the very first stepping. I can’t wait to test the second stepping to see if the performance is finally what It is promised in the papers.

            • Chrispy_
            • 3 years ago

            Well, that’s it, working exactly as expected.

            The J1900 is the EXACT SAME CPU ARCHITECTURE as Braswell. Braswell CPU cores are just die-shrinks of the J1900’s Silvermont cores.

            J1900 = 4C/4T @ 2.0GHz base clock
            N3000 = 2C/2T @ 1.04GHz base clock.

            it’s half the cores at half the speed, of course it’s going to be using about four times the CPU to do the same job! That’s why I called it runt-Braswell 😀

            /facepalm.

      • FanlessTech
      • 3 years ago

      The BeeBox handles 1080P files tho.

        • mtruchado
        • 3 years ago

        Then mine is defective, I don’t find any other explanation

          • MDBT
          • 3 years ago

          You need to be running dual channel RAM in the beebox. its one of the few in this form factor that have it available and its crucial to the performance of the onboard video.

            • mtruchado
            • 3 years ago

            My current configuration is 2 x 2Gb DDR 3 PC-1600. One of the test that I did to evaluate the system is to run with 1 x 4Gb DDR 3 PC-1600 vs 2 x 2Gb DDR 3 PC-1600. Indeed, with the dual-channel configuration (confirmed also by BIOS) the gain is 10 / 15%.

            All the modules are hynix sodimm

      • brucethemoose
      • 3 years ago

      What video player were you using?

      If VLC didn’t work, try MPV, and vice versa.

        • mtruchado
        • 3 years ago

        I’m trying with VLC, setting the video acceleration to VAAPI via DRI, there is also an option VAAPI via X11 but It is not making any significant difference. Just to check that everything works as expected, I’m executing VLC from command line to check the output, there VLC claims that It uses the intel VAAPI 1.7.0 HW acceleration for cherry trail.

      • Klimax
      • 3 years ago

      Windows 7 x64, J1900 (Brix) doesn’t have any problems using VLC 2.2.x nightly. Seems that there are some issues on Linux side though. HW is not at fault.

      ARK comparison between two of Atoms I have and yours:
      [url<]http://ark.intel.com/compare/81072,78867,87259[/url<] Both don't have any trouble with 1080p video.

        • mtruchado
        • 3 years ago

        Indeed, I got also a J1900 here and the performance is acceptable, but this is Bay Trail-D, not braswell

    • mkk
    • 3 years ago

    Maybe now the power sippimg has reached the level where future focus can be squarely set at sipping less power from our nervous system.

    • frogg
    • 3 years ago

    should, some performance benefit, no specific numbers yet, expect, should, they could be , Intel says, bla bla bla …

    • chuckula
    • 3 years ago

    If AMD hadn’t killed off its smaller cores then it could have codenamed its competitor Drago.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 3 years ago

      I must break you

      • The Egg
      • 3 years ago

      If he dies….he dies.

      • biffzinker
      • 3 years ago

      Isn’t Zen suppose to take over the smaller cores spot in their future product line?

        • chuckula
        • 3 years ago

        Zen is supposed to be OK for “low power” applications.. but then again, Zen is currently being touted as the solution to all that ails AMD right now.

        I’m more referring to the core design where Apollo Lake is just the latest iteration of the Atom line and is the “small” core, even though Skylake can also run in a 4.5 watt envelope. AMD has officially abandoned further development of the “cat” line of cores that were the direct competitors to the Atom. The closest thing they have that’s “new” is their ARM chip that is basically a vanilla ARM part and that doesn’t include graphics so it’s not really comparable.

      • ronch
      • 3 years ago

      Those small cores are nice but I reckon AMD is gunning for the high end markets where margins are much fatter. Profits from Kabini and console chips are pretty slim at best.

      And strictly speaking those small cores aren’t quite dead yet. R&D has probably been cut off but those cores are still on the shelves. Once and if Zen starts to bring in more cash I reckon AMD can easily come up with a Zen-derived small core of some sort.

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