With his 16 years at the processor giant Intel, Thomas Melzer has had to look at the PC development from the first floor. His journey has gone through positions as a solution architect, technology missionary and several specialist roles to now include responsibility for one of the company’s five data center laboratories. Thomas describes himself as a “nerdy gamer” and emphasizes that he has not had a single boring day at work so far.
We meet for a short chat over Zoom to discuss Intel’s latest investments in laptops. Competitors AMD and Apple are at least on the warpath and have been responsible for startling launches during the year, but Intel considers itself to be well equipped with the new Tiger Lake architecture.
– The eleventh generation Core i7 processors are now available in more than fifty different laptop designs and we expect a hundred more next year. With the integrated Iris Xe graphics, together with the specifications from the Evo project, the result is thin and light computers with a lot of power, at the same time as they are battery-efficient, says Thomas Melzer.
What is Project Evo and why are you investing in it?
– Evo is a set of requirements we place on computer manufacturers in order for them to be able to certify themselves for the platform. Among other things, the computers’ battery must be able to handle more than 9 hours of video playback in Full-HD, the computers must be able to wake up from sleep in less than a second and offer a better connection with the new Wifi 6.
Thomas Melzer explains the Evo investment with how the requirements for a well-performing laptop have developed in recent years. Both utility and entertainment users have high performance requirements, but do not want to compromise on either performance or battery life. The biggest hope towards appeasing the market, he says, was the so-called Ultrabooks, which made their entrance in 2011. Everything since then has been a further development.
– Tiger Lake and Evo are relatively big steps forward. On a more technical level, Tiger Lake’s architectural changes are also impressive, where the 10-nanometer technology, Superfin, now allows us to run a portable processor up to 4.8 GHz thanks to technological advances in the construction process.
2020 has been a very different year. How did you notice that?
– Above all, the market has been vacuumed on laptops now that many people have to work from home. It was hardly possible for us to get hold of a bunch of laptops for our domestic workers! But of course we also see increased demands on power and portability. Video conferencing and other communication software suck performance. Heavily rooted programs in the creative professions as well.
During the year, high-profile launches from the competitor AMD (in the desktop segment) and most recently Apple have given Intel a more precarious competitive situation. According to Thomas Melzer, they welcome the neck brace and see it as a fact that will increase the pace of innovation in the future.
– More things happen, which at least makes my job much more fun. There is a lot of speed internally now, and just because we launched Tiger Lake we can not sit still in the boat. I can not go into any details, but dare to promise that there will be very interesting things from Intel in the near future.
However, Thomas Melzer lightens the lid a bit when he again mentions the integrated Iris Xe graphics, as by our test editor Mattias Inghe recently described as “a huge step”.
– What we have now launched is just the first step. Integrated graphics will be a very interesting topic next year, I dare say.