15 Dec, 23

Core Ultra, first chips with NPUs for AI workCore Ultra


Intel today is entering the “AI PC” era with the launch of its new Core Ultra notebook chips. Originally codenamed “Meteor Lake,” these are Intel’s first processors to include an NPU, or neural processing unit, for accelerating AI tasks. The launch comes a week after AMD revealed its upcoming Ryzen 8040 hardware, its second batch of chips to include NPUs. While Intel is playing a bit of AI catch-up, the Core Ultra chips still sound like a solid step forward — at least according to the company’s benchmarks.

Intel claims the Core Ultra chips use up to 79 percent less power than AMD’s last-gen Ryzen 7840U while idling in Windows, and they’re also up to 11 percent faster than AMD’s hardware for multithreaded tasks. Intel didn’t have the upcoming Ryzen 8040 chips to test, but it’ll be interesting to see how they both compare next year.

Efficiency is a key component of the Core Ultra chips: They’re built on the company’s new Intel 4 (7nm) process, and they feature its FOVEROS 3D packaging. According to Intel, these are are also “the most efficient x86 processor for ultrathin systems.” There are refined P (Performance) and E (Efficiency) cores, as well as Intel Arc graphics, which is up to twice as fast as the last generation (and also offer double the performance per watt).

While Intel’s Core Ultra 9 185H processor won’t be available until 2024, the majority of its other Meteor Lake chips are launching today. That includes Intel’s second-most powerful chip, the Core Ultra 7 165H, featuring 16 cores and 22 threads and an up to 5.0GHz boost clock.

There are also the Core Ultra 7 165U, Core Ultra 5 135H, Core Ultra 5 135U, and several other options that aren’t quite as powerful as Intel’s flagship. It’s worth noting that only Intel’s H-series chips come with a built-in Arc GPU, as the company’s U-series CPUs just offer integrated Intel Graphics. You can check out all of the chips and their full list of specs in the above chart.

A bunch of new laptops have already adopted the new Intel Core Ultra chip. For starters, MSI is launching the high-end Prestige 16 AI Studio laptop, which weighs three-and-a-half pounds but comes with some pretty impressive specs, including up to Intel’s Core Ultra 9 185H processor and Nvidia’s 4070 laptop GPU. There’s a 13-inch Prestige AI Evo model that comes with up to the Intel Core Ultra 7 155H processor. MSI’s 16-inch Prestige AI Studio laptop starts at $1,899, while the Prestige 13 AI Evo costs $1,049 and up.