Intel has a plan to go beyond 3nm chips

Earlier this year, Intel announced they were planning to retake the CPU manufacturing lead and "unquestioned leadership" in the PC world. These were impressive goals, but what was missing was any sense of how they'd actually achieve them. Now, we finally know Intel's plan.

Intel's CEO Pat Gelsinger and SVP of Technology Development Dr. Ann Kelleher, laid out the company's plan for the future. For starters, Intel is renaming its manufacturing nodes. What used to be 10nm "Enhanced Superfin" is now just "7." This may feel a little duplicitous — "just wave a wand a you've got better technology!" — but to be fair to intel, the nanometer measurements of process nodes don't really correspond to anything physical any more, and in terms of density Intel's current 10nm chips are competitive with TSMC and Samsung's 7nm.

Looking beyond 7nm, Intel is targeting an aggressive release schedule with major product updates happening annually. We're expecting their Alder Lake chips this fall, which will mix high and low-powered cores, followed by now-4nm Meteor Lake chips that will move to a "tile" (chiplet) design, and incorporate Intel's 3D stacked-chip technology, Foveros. 

Beyond that, Intel has technology mapped out for an EUV-based 3nm node that will use the high-energy manufacturing process to streamline chip creation, and a "20A" for angstrom node. This is one ten-billionth of a meter (meaning it's 2nm), and will be followed by a 18A node that Intel hopes to start moving into production in 2025 for products sometime in the 2nd half of the decade. Again, while node measurements don't really correspond to physical structures any more, a silicon atom is in the area of 2 angstroms wide, so these are seriously tiny transistors.

This release schedule seems aggressive, and Intel does not have the best track record of meeting targets for new nodes, but if it can even come close to these goals, expect your laptops and desktops to get a huge performance boost in the next few years. 

For even more info on Intel's plans, and details on its EMIB interconnect technology and two new versions of Foveros, be sure to check out the video above. You can see our sources here.

Intel has a plan to go beyond 3nm chips

Earlier this year, Intel announced they were planning to retake the CPU manufacturing lead and "unquestioned leadership" in the PC world. These were impressive goals, but what was missing was any sense of how they'd actually achieve them. Now, we finally know Intel's plan.

Intel's CEO Pat Gelsinger and SVP of Technology Development Dr. Ann Kelleher, laid out the company's plan for the future. For starters, Intel is renaming its manufacturing nodes. What used to be 10nm "Enhanced Superfin" is now just "7." This may feel a little duplicitous — "just wave a wand a you've got better technology!" — but to be fair to intel, the nanometer measurements of process nodes don't really correspond to anything physical any more, and in terms of density Intel's current 10nm chips are competitive with TSMC and Samsung's 7nm.

Looking beyond 7nm, Intel is targeting an aggressive release schedule with major product updates happening annually. We're expecting their Alder Lake chips this fall, which will mix high and low-powered cores, followed by now-4nm Meteor Lake chips that will move to a "tile" (chiplet) design, and incorporate Intel's 3D stacked-chip technology, Foveros. 

Beyond that, Intel has technology mapped out for an EUV-based 3nm node that will use the high-energy manufacturing process to streamline chip creation, and a "20A" for angstrom node. This is one ten-billionth of a meter (meaning it's 2nm), and will be followed by a 18A node that Intel hopes to start moving into production in 2025 for products sometime in the 2nd half of the decade. Again, while node measurements don't really correspond to physical structures any more, a silicon atom is in the area of 2 angstroms wide, so these are seriously tiny transistors.

This release schedule seems aggressive, and Intel does not have the best track record of meeting targets for new nodes, but if it can even come close to these goals, expect your laptops and desktops to get a huge performance boost in the next few years. 

For even more info on Intel's plans, and details on its EMIB interconnect technology and two new versions of Foveros, be sure to check out the video above. You can see our sources here.

The Magic Keyboard with Touch ID is now available separately for $149

A few months after it introduced new Touch ID-enabled Magic Keyboards along with M1 Macs, Apple is now selling the peripheral separately. The Magic Keyboard with Touch ID costs $149, while a version with a number pad can be all yours for $179. It's worth noting the Touch ID functions only work on M1-powered Macs.

Along with helping you log in to your Mac without having to punch in a password, you can use Touch ID to verify Apple Pay transactions. For now, the standalone version of the Magic Keyboard is only available in the standard silver and white color scheme. You won’t be able to snag it in one of those funky M1 iMac-inspired designs without shelling out for a new computer. 

Apple Magic Keyboard with Touch ID and Number Pad
Apple

Apple has also refreshed several other Magic accessories. The standard $99 Magic Keyboard now has keys for Spotlight, dictation, do not disturb and emoji, as do the Touch ID-equipped models. The $129 Magic Trackpad, meanwhile, has a tweaked shape to match the Magic Keyboard. 

All of these accessories, as well as the $79 Magic Mouse, now come with a braided USB-C to Lightning cable rather than the old Lightning to USB-A one. Apple says the accessories can run for around a month, if not longer, on a single charge.

Apple’s 512GB M1 Mac Mini falls back to $799 at Amazon

If you've been eyeing Apple's latest Mac Mini as your next desktop, now is the time to act. You can currently get the 512GB model for $799 at Amazon, or $100 off the normal $899 price. The deal brings the desktop down to just below the record low we saw in March and April. It also means you're only paying $100 more for double the storage of the $699 base model.

Buy Mac Mini M1 (512GB) at Amazon - $799

That should come in handy if you plan to take full advantage of the Mac Mini's M1 chip. As we've previouslynoted, Apple's in-house silicon is a powerhouse that makes quick work of most tasks, be it browsing bloated websites or opening creative editing software. Inside the desktop, you'll find an 8-core CPU with four performance cores and four efficiency cores and a 16-core Neural Engine. Unlike with the iMac, you'll also need your own display and peripherals like a keyboard and mouse. 

There are a few caveats, however. The Mac Mini's RAM and storage aren't upgradeable and the two rear Thunderbolt ports won't please those who need extra monitors and faster connectivity. Apple also offers 16GB unified memory, up to 2TB SSD storage and 10 Gigabit Ethernet support at a cost. In fact, the true top-of-the line Mac Mini will set you back $1,799. Saying that, the specs available on this deal model should please most casual users.

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

Apple’s 512GB M1 Mac Mini falls back to $799 at Amazon

If you've been eyeing Apple's latest Mac Mini as your next desktop, now is the time to act. You can currently get the 512GB model for $799 at Amazon, or $100 off the normal $899 price. The deal brings the desktop down to just below the record low we saw in March and April. It also means you're only paying $100 more for double the storage of the $699 base model.

Buy Mac Mini M1 (512GB) at Amazon - $799

That should come in handy if you plan to take full advantage of the Mac Mini's M1 chip. As we've previouslynoted, Apple's in-house silicon is a powerhouse that makes quick work of most tasks, be it browsing bloated websites or opening creative editing software. Inside the desktop, you'll find an 8-core CPU with four performance cores and four efficiency cores and a 16-core Neural Engine. Unlike with the iMac, you'll also need your own display and peripherals like a keyboard and mouse. 

There are a few caveats, however. The Mac Mini's RAM and storage aren't upgradeable and the two rear Thunderbolt ports won't please those who need extra monitors and faster connectivity. Apple also offers 16GB unified memory, up to 2TB SSD storage and 10 Gigabit Ethernet support at a cost. In fact, the true top-of-the line Mac Mini will set you back $1,799. Saying that, the specs available on this deal model should please most casual users.

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

Apple’s MacBook Air M1 is on sale for $850 right now at Amazon

Those looking for a new daily-driver should seriously consider the MacBook Air M1. Thanks to Apple's new processor, it's powerful enough to serve most people well and its new fanless design is a big improvement. The laptop normally starts at $1,000, but now you can get it for $850 on Amazon. That's a new all-time low and it's $50 cheaper than the price the laptop has been hovering at for the past few weeks.

Buy MacBook Air M1 (256GB) at Amazon - $850Buy MacBook Air M1 (512GB) at Amazon - $1,099

The base model comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, but you can also grab the 512GB model for less now, too — $1,099 to be exact, or $150 off its normal price. The extra-storage models ship relatively quickly, but you'll have to wait until the end of August to get the base laptop in your hands. If you're willing to wait, this is the best sale we've seen on the MacBook Air M1 in months.

We consider the MacBook Air M1 to be the best Apple laptop for most people right now. The performance boost that the M1 chipset provides is impressive — sites load almost instantly, scrolling feels effortless and native apps run like clockwork. There's no fan inside the Air M1, so you'll get a quieter experience overall — no annoying whirring when you're pushing the machine to its limits. And the Air M1 should last all day (about 16.5-hours in our testing) so you can use it for work and play.

The Air M1's design is quite familiar, but that's not a bad thing. It's that familiar thin-and-light clamshell with a lovely 13.3-inch Retina display, a big and accurate trackpad and a comfortable keyboard. Yes, you'll have to deal with a 720p webcam and just two USB-C ports, but those are small prices to pay for an otherwise stellar machine.

Follow @EngadgetDeals on Twitter for the latest tech deals and buying advice.

Intel NUC 11 Extreme review: A tiny gaming desktop you may actually want

Who is a powerful miniature desktop for? That was the question running through my mind when I reviewed Intel's NUC 9 Extreme last year. It was the company's most powerful compact PC kit (NUC stands for "next unit of computing") at the time. But it was so wildly expensive — especially since you need to add your own RAM, storage, GPU and OS — it didn't make sense for anyone but mini-PC obsessives. The new NUC 11 Extreme, AKA "Beast Canyon," is pretty much the same story. But it's at least a bit cheaper and more flexible, thanks to its faster 11th-gen Intel CPU and support for full-sized GPUs.

I'll get this out of the way up front: Yes, this NUC is dramatically larger than any previous units we've seen. The 5-liter NUC 9 Extreme already seemed to be pushing the limits of a compact PC, but at 8 liters, the NUC 11 Extreme is what you'd call a Big Boy. Sure, it beats making space for a mid-tower PC on your desk, but it's still pretty substantial. You can't blame Intel too much: Gamers wanted full-sized GPUs in a NUC, this is just the most efficient way to make that happen. The big issue now is that Intel is directly competing with increasingly popular Mini-ITX PC cases, which are cheaper but typically more complex builds.

The NUC 11 Extreme screams "gamer" before you even turn it on. Its black metal case sports mesh air vents along the sides, giving you a peek at the GPU within and three large case fans up top. For a small box, it's clearly meant to push a lot of air. Hit the power button and it springs to life with an LED skull along the front panel, as well as underside LED lighting. I'm not one for too much gamer bling, but Intel's lighting comes is relatively subtle compared to many other PC makers.

Intel NUC 11 Extreme mini gaming desktop
Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

Our review unit featured Intel's 11th-gen i9 Compute Element, a modular card with an eight-core 11900KB CPU. It can also be purchased separately as an upgrade for NUC 9 Extreme customers. That was always the dream for Intel's NUC Extreme platform, which also includes Razer's Tomahawk mini-PC. Wouldn't it be nice if you could just yank a card out in a few years to get a new CPU? There are some compromises, though. According to Intel, there's no front panel audio support when using the new Compute Card on the NUC 9 Extreme, and there's no guaranteed PCIe 4.0 either. The company also says compatibility with other boxes depends on how the their NUC base board was designed. (We've reached out to Razer to see if the Tomahawk can be upgraded.)

To help speed up our review process, Intel sent along a unit pre-configured with Windows 10 Pro, 16GB of RAM, a speedy 512GB NVMe SSD, and an ASUS RTX 3060 GPU. Remember, you'll need to gather all of that gear too if you you a NUC kit for yourself (or just buy one pre-built from resellers like SimplyNUC).

While I've appreciated all of Intel's previous performance-oriented NUCs, including 2018's "Hades Canyon" model and 2016's "Skull Canyon," they've always been held back by their notebook processors. The NUC 11 Extreme, though, runs more powerful CPUs with a 65-watt TDP. That means it can tap into more power like a traditional desktop gaming chip. And based on our benchmarks, you can definitely see the benefits of that boost.

None

PCMark 10

3DMark (TimeSpy Extreme)

Geekbench 5

Intel NUC 11 Extreme (Intel Core i9-11900KB, NVIDIA RTX 3060)

7,167

4,143

1,684/9,345

Intel NUC 9 Extreme (Core i9-9980HK. NVIDIA RTX 2070)

6,469

4,057

1,312/7,464

ASUS ROG Strix G15 Advantage Edition (AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX, AMD Radeon RX 6800M)

6,992

5,189

1,457/7,691

ASUS Zephyrus G15 (AMD Ryzen 9 5900HS, NVIDIA RTX 3080 Max-Q)

6,881

4,530

1,426/7,267

In PCMark 10, the NUC easily outpaced every Windows PC we've seen this year. It was slightly faster than ASUS's ROG Strix G15, which was running AMD's powerful Ryzen 9 5900HX. Admittedly, we haven't looked at any gaming notebooks with 11th-gen Intel chips, but based on that AMD comparison I'd still expect the NUC 11 to come out ahead of those. We also haven't tested comparable 11th-gen desktop CPUs yet, but I'd wager they'll perform better since they can draw more power.

Apple's M1 iMac was the only computer we've reviewed that beat the NUC when it came to single-core performance in Geekbench 5, but Intel's machine still came out ahead in multithreading. The NUC 11 Extreme also impressed me when it came to transcoding a 4K video clip into 1080p. It managed to do that in 41 seconds, beating the speedy ROG Strix G15 by 6 seconds.

Intel NUC 11 Extreme mini gaming desktop
Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

I'm mainly focusing on CPU-bound benchmarks, because the NUC 11's graphics scores will ultimately depend on the GPU you plug into it. But I couldn't review a gaming PC without actually playing some games, could I? I'm happy to report that it reached 150 fps to 160 fps in Overwatch with epic graphics settings at my ultrawide monitor's native resolution (3,440 by 1,440 pixels). I was even able to get Control running in 1440p between 60 and 70 fps with medium ray tracing settings and graphics set to high. (Thanks to a healthy DLSS assist, of course.)

Basically, the NUC 11 Extreme does everything I expect it an RTX 3060-equipped gaming desktop to do. And despite the tight quarters, temperatures didn't suffer much either. The GPU never went above 75 celsius while gaming, and the CPU stayed under 80 celsius as well. The fans were noticeable under load, but they were never as whiny as the ones you'd find on some gaming laptops. (Larger fans can push more air without making as much noise, naturally.)

Intel NUC 11 Extreme mini gaming desktop

This being the ultimate DIY PC kit, I also had to tear it open to see just how modular it actually was. The side panels came off easily enough, but I had to spend a few minutes prodding the NUC to make its top panel flip over. That revealed its innards, but I still had to lift up the rear panel to remove the screws securing the Compute Element, its plastic blower, and the GPU. It took around 10 more minutes to fully disassemble the system.

The entire process felt easier than on the NUC 9 Extreme, simply because there was more room to work with. But it's still not completely intuitive. I also accidentally tore apart the fan temperature sensors attached to the Compute Element, because a mere tug split them in half. If you've built PCs before, you should be able to intuit all of the cables and PCIe release levers you need to find. But I'd recommend taking some photos of all of the tiny wires connected to the Compute Element, because it's easy to mistake where they go and genuinely tough to plug them back in.

Intel NUC 11 Extreme mini gaming desktop
Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

The Compute Element card was similar to the one I held last year, except now there's a bigger fan and a beefier heatsink. Given the small workable space, I was also interested in seeing how more powerful GPUs would fit into the NUC 11. NVIDIA's massive RTX 3070 Ti and 3080 had no trouble fitting, and the Radeon RX 6800 dropped in just fine too. The bulkier RX 6800 XT was a no-go, unfortunately. Its heat sink was just a bit too large to fit in properly. Intel says the NUC 11 Extreme should fit GPUs up to 12 inches long, but be wary if you're planning to use anything with a bulky heatsink.

I'll admit, I was surprised that this NUC could actually fit some of the fastest graphics cards on the market. That makes it far more useful than the last model, which was limited to shorter 8-inch long GPUs. Now, you can have a NUC that could genuinely offer most of the speed you'd get with a full-sized desktop. Or maybe you just want a secondary computer to power your game streaming. Based on what I've seen, the NUC 11 Extreme can handle most anything.

But, it's still very expensive. Intel expects the Core i7 and i9 models to be priced between $1,150 and $1,350. (It's nixed plans for an i5 model.) You can also get the Compute Elements separately between $780 and $980 — a lot to pay for a card that's essential a cradle for CPUs that cost half the price. And, once again, you'll also have to shell out for all of the additional hardware and software you need for a Windows PC. All told, you can expect to pay at least another $1,000 if you want 16GB of RAM, 1TB of NVMe SSD storage and a decent GPU. 

Intel NUC 11 Extreme mini gaming desktop
Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

That may sound ridiculous, but keep in mind the Core i9 NUC 9 Extreme kit started at $1,639 last year. I couldn't fathom why anyone would pay out the nose for a compromised desktop that couldn't fit a full-sized GPU. But the NUC 11 Extreme fixes those issues, and it includes a far faster CPU. If all of this sounds too extreme, you can always consider Mini-ITX case builds, but once again be prepared for pricey hardware and even tighter working quarters. 

Intel's vision for a world where desktop computers can be both powerful and tiny is slowly coming into focus. Now, with the NUC 11 Extreme, Intel finally has a beefy miniature PC that I could actually recommend (assuming you've got deep pockets). 

Dasung Paperlike 253 3K HDMI E-ink Monitor: Stock Footage

Chinese company Dasung has been working to make larger and more responsive E-ink displays for seven years. They made waves online in 2015 with their 13.3″ E-ink reader, and now they’re back with a product that is almost twice that size. The Paperlike 253 is a 25.3″ 3200 x 1800 16:9 monitor that can connect to devices via HDMI, DisplayPort, or USB-C, making it just as easy to use as other monitors.

Although I doubt that anyone will buy the Paperlike 253 for anything other than viewing text and other static elements, the monitor does have a high enough refresh rate to play video at a decent clip. Dasung hasn’t revealed the exact refresh rate of the monitor, but looking at its demos it’s responsive enough for daily use.

Here’s a longer video about Dasung’s journey and the tech behind the Paperlike 253. The demo starts at around 2:52, with video playback at 4:08.

The Paperlike 253 retails for $2, 300 (USD). That’s a ton of money, but I’d argue that preserving your eyes is worth way more than that. Dasung recently completed an Indiegogo crowdfunding program for the Paperlike 253 and claims that it will deliver the first batch of orders in August 2021. The pre-order for the device is closed as of this writing, but you can enter your email on Dasung’s online store to be notified when it’s available again.

Icy Dock ToughArmor MB872MP-B Can Fit 12 SATA SSDs in a 5.25″ Drive Bay: Super Saiyan Drive Super Saiyan

The M.2 storage drive specification has been one of the best new additions to PCs in recent years, allowing for extremely compact and easy-to-install SSDs. These days it’s often used by incredibly fast NVMe SSDs, giving you the best of both worlds – small footprint and lightning speeds – at reasonable prices. But if you’re all-in on storage, Icy Dock has an enclosure that can hold up to 12 SATA M.2 SSDs in the now archaic 5.25″ drive bay.

The ToughArmor MB872MP-B enclosure has an all-metal construction and a 3-speed 4omm fan for durability. Its drive lockers feature a tool-less mechanism, allowing you to install drives in as little as 10s. It’s compatible with M.2 SATA SSDs from 2230 all the way up to 22110.

The enclosure connects to your motherboard via three SFF-8612 data connectors and two SATA 15-pin power connectors. That may sound like a lot, but considering you can pack up to 12 drives, that’s still very efficient and saves you a lot of time and cable management.

This being a high-end product, it does come with a fitting price tag. You can order the ToughArmor MB872MP-B from Buywee for about $970 (USD). It’s also on Amazon (affiliate link).

[via Toms Hardware]

Intel’s revised roadmap looks beyond 1 nanometer chips

Forget about "SuperFin Enhanced," the previous name for the node powering Intel's upcoming 10nm Alder Lake processors. Now, that node is just called "Intel 7," according to the company's revised roadmap. But don't go thinking that means Intel is somehow delivering a 7nm processor early — its long-delayed "Rocket Lake" 7nm chip still won't ship until 2023, and its node has been renamed to "Intel 4." Confused yet? It's almost like Intel is trying to attach a new number to these upcoming products, so we'll forget it's losing the shrinking transistor war against AMD.

But Intel's prospects are more interesting as we look ahead to 2024, when the company expects to finalize the design for its first chips with transistors smaller than 1 nanometer. They'll be measured by angstroms, instead. The "Intel 20A" node will be powered by "RibbonFET" transistors, the company's first new architecture since the arrival FinFET in 2011. It'll be coupled with PowerVia, a technology that can move power delivery to the rear of a chip wafer, which should make signal transmission more efficient.

Pat Gelsinger Intel
Intel

“Building on Intel’s unquestioned leadership in advanced packaging, we are accelerating our innovation roadmap to ensure we are on a clear path to process performance leadership by 2025,” Intel's new CEO Pat Gelsinger (above) said during the "Intel Accelerated" livestream today. “We are leveraging our unparalleled pipeline of innovation to deliver technology advances from the transistor up to the system level. Until the periodic table is exhausted, we will be relentless in our pursuit of Moore’s Law and our path to innovate with the magic of silicon.”

Before it reaches the angstrom era of chips, though, the company also plans to release a processor with an "Intel 3" node in 2023. You can think of it as a super-powered version of its 7nm architecture, with around an 18 percent performance power watt improvement over Intel 4. It'll likely fill the timing gap between Rocket Lake chips in 2023 and the Intel 20A products in 2024. Intel is also daring to call its shot beyond 2024: it's also working on an "Intel 18A" node that'll further improve on its RibbonFET design.

For consumers, this roadmap means you can expect chips to get steadily faster and more efficient over the next five years. If anything, the announcements today show that Intel is trying to move beyond the 10nm and 7nm delays that have dogged it for ages. 

As we've previously argued, it's ultimately a good thing for the tech industry if Intel can finally regain its footing. Its $20 billion investment in two Arizona-based fabrication plants was a clear sign that Gelsinger aimed to bring the company into new territory. But now that it's laid out a new timeline, there'll be even more pressure for Intel not to let things slip once again.