Rumor: Turbo Boost could come to Cannon Lake Core i3s

Among all of the market segmentation methods Intel has used to separate Core i3, i5, and i7 mobile processors over the years, the one constant was that Core i3 chips lacked Turbo Boost support. That's held true even as Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs have grown into quad-core, eight-thread parts in 15-W power envelopes.

That one major point of distinction could be about to change if new rumors prove correct. Online publication Laptop Media claims to have new information on a future eighth-generation Core i3 mobile part, the Core i3-8130U, that CPU investigator InstLatX64 claims will be among the first Cannon Lake CPUs produced on Intel's oft-delayed 10-nm process. InstLatX64 also points out a new entry in the Geekbench database featuring a Core i3-8121U processor that's purportedly from the same product family. Both parts could mark the first time Turbo Boost will make its debut on Core i3s—a move in keeping with Intel's reimagining of generational improvements as a measure of delivered performance instead of any particular silicon advance.

The Geekbench entry that InstLatX64 found purports to describe an as-yet-unreleased Core i3-8121U. This chip has a low base clock, an unusual CPUID string, and an extra megabyte of L3 cache compared to a seventh-generation Core i3 part. InstLatX64 takes to mean that the chip has a new architecture. InstLatX64 believes the extra megabyte of L3 is especially indicative of fabrication on Intel's 10-nm process. Gerbils that have been following Intel's moves from home will recall that the company's previous schedule of two architectures on each process node has broken down at 14 nm, and that Broadwell, Skylake, Kaby Lake, and Coffee Lake parts have all been fabricated on essentially the same process node.

If Laptop Media's information is to be believed, on the other hand, the eighth-gen Core i3-8130U mobile part it uncovered will slot in below the well-received four-core, eight-thread Core i5-8250U. This chip will reportedly sport Intel's familiar UHD Graphics 620 IGP, which is a simple rebrand of the HD Graphics 620 graphics processor found in the first round of Kaby Lake mobile parts. The site reports a 2.2 GHz base clock for the new Core i3 chip, down from the 2.7 GHz clock of the Core i3-7130U from the previous generation. The new chip will reportedly boost up to 3.4 GHz, however, a value that could go a long way toward explaining the increase in TDP from 7.5-15 W to 10-15 W. The amount of L2 cache increases from 3 MB to 4 MB, in keeping with the changes that InstLatX64 notes.

The evidence for either of these claims seems thin, but we do know that Intel has been talking up progress with its 10-nm process of late. Laptop Media has not published any details about the source of its Core i3-8130U specifications, and InstLatX64's claims are similarly unsubstantiated. The rumors look reasonable enough, however. We hope to hear more about Intel's possible new lineup of Core i3s—if they exist—soon.

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