Intel Silently Launches Cannon Lake

As far back as Q4 2017, Intel has been saying that they are shipping 10nm chips in low volume. Today, Intel has finally added the first 10nm chip to their database. Going under the same 8th Generation Core as Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake because things are not confusing enough, the new Core i3-8121U which is based on the Cannon Lake microarchitecture has shown up on Intel’s ARK. Just don’t don’t get too excited because this thing is a major disappointment.

10nm Cannon Lake SKUs
Model C/T Base Turbo TDP Memory
Core i3-8121U 2/4 2.20 GHz 3.20 GHz 15 W 2×DDR4/LPDDR4/x
2400 MT/s

We have known about the Core i3-8121U for quite some time now. In fact, we even added it to our site back in January but since it’s now on the official Intel website, we get to see the full specs; and it’s just as bad as we all thought. For the most part, the specs are similar to Kaby Lake U models – 2 cores, 4 threads, and 15 W TDP. The L3 cache has been bumped to 4 MiB, matching current Coffee Lake U models. This processor comes with the chipset in the same BGA package and features 16x PCIe lanes, which is 4 more lanes than Kaby Lake U models but comparable to current Coffee Lake U models. Interestingly, this model has a junction temperature of 105 degrees (C) versus 100 on current Coffee Lake U models. One of the main features that were added to Cannon Lake is the new support for LPDDR4/LPDDR4X memory with rates up to 2400 MT/s.


An Oddity

There are a number of odd details about this model. For a few months now, it has been rumored that Intel qualified a dual-core model with a non-working GPU. What’s interesting is that there is no integrated graphics listed on ARK either. Additionally, there is also no mention of AVX-512 support which was supposed to be introduced with Cannon Lake for client models according to Intel’s official ISA documents. As far as architectural changes are concerned, Intel has yet to disclose the details of Cannon Lake.

Intel ISA Extensions Programming Reference (PDF)

Despite everything that’s unusual about this chip, last week an official Lenovo distributor announced a low-end laptop based on the i3-8121U. The laptop comes with an AMD Radeon RX 540 and does not appear to have integrated graphics, further confirming the ARK listing.


It appears that Intel’s ARK may be wrong with regards to AVX-512. Acccording to the CPUID dump from the Lenovo Ideapad-330-15ICN the CPU does, in fact, have AVX-512 enabled.


Additionally, compared to Skylake and its derivatives, KBL and CFL, Cannon Lake has no apparent cache and TLB changes.

Update 2

We have reached out to Intel and they have since corrected ARK to reflect the ISA support. The i3-8121U now officially has AVX-512 listed as a supported x86 extension.

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