Intel's struggles getting its 10-nm fabrication technology up and running have been well documented. The blue silicon juggernaut's CEO admitted in a recent conference call that chips built on the new node wouldn't ship in volume until sometime in 2019. In light of this information, we were somewhat surprised to learn about the appearance of a Lenovo IdeaPad 330 sporting what appears to be a Cannon Lake CPU in Chinese e-tailer JD's product catalog. The machine in question has a Core i3-8121U processor and a ¥3299 price tag (about $450), suggesting that Intel is able to make low-end chips on its 10-nm node.
The listing says the chip inside the IdeaPad has a base clock of 2.2 GHz and a turbo clock of 3.2 GHz. This information dovetails with recent rumors about the Core i3-8121U which showed the chip as having two cores and four threads. As a refresher, Intel has included its Turbo Boost feature on only two prior Core i3 models, the second-wave Kaby Lake Core i3-8130U and the Coffee Lake Core i3-8109U.
Kaby Lake-powered IdeaPad 330
The IdeaPad 330 on sale at JD has mostly low-end specs. It carries 4 GB of DDR4 memory, a 500-GB hard drive, and a 15.6″ 1366×768 TN display. The only spec that doesn't scream bargain-basement is the AMD Radeon RX 540 graphics, though the GPU is paired with only 2 GB of its own memory. Mark Tyson at Hexus speculates that the choice to use discrete graphics on such an otherwise-unremarkable laptop may mean Intel is having trouble with the graphics portion of its Cannon Lake chips. The existing IdeaPad 330 models have soldered-on memory plus one SO-DIMM slot, so the memory on the purported Cannon Lake version is probably configured the same way.
Side view of Kaby Lake-equipped IdeaPad 330
The laptop has the sort of connectivity one expects from a contemporary machine in the sub-$500 class: a couple of USB 3.0 Type-A ports, one Type-C connector, Gigabit Ethernet, an audio combo jack, and an HDMI output. Shoppers looking for a laptop to connect to a high-resolution display might want to wait for more details from Lenovo, as the listing doesn't give a version number for the HDMI jack.
The Cannon Lake-packing Lenovo IdeaPad 330 is listed at JD.com for $330 as described above. Buyers can pay extra to get upgrades like more memory and an SSD. We would suggest that American gerbils looking to fire off a Cannon Lake portable wait for more well-rounded machines from a North American retailer.