The Meteor Lake CPUs will make their debut in laptops from major companies tomorrow, and will be available in all versions and models by January. Regardless of the model you may have seen, they all have one thing in common: their NPU for AI. Intel has emphasized this as one of the major attractions for these processors, but the latest available information reveals a minor setback. The NPU performance in Meteor Lake will be 10 TOPS, lagging behind AMD and Apple.
It is true that this is Intel’s first foray into this field within PCs, and its main use will be for managing power and cores. However, according to the best leaker in the world and days before the unveiling of all the details, the PC market will now be sold with AI marketing, which includes the TOPS number that processors can achieve.
Intel Meteor Lake and its NPU for AI: “only” 10 TOPS?
There is no doubt that Apple struck first, and much of its efficiency comes from the effective use of its NPU (Neural Engine in Cupertino’s devices) in its SoCs. Intel wants to do the same, and if we add up all the new features of Meteor Lake, it will be a 180-degree shift from what the company was doing before.
Meteor Lake has been referred to as Intel’s Bulldozer, alluding to AMD. Although the performance increase will be small due to what has been discussed in recent months, Intel’s main goal is to achieve outstanding efficiency through the MCM architecture, driven by Foveros 3D and its new Intel 4 node.
The setup looks solid on paper, but in order for it to work, the AI must do its job, and therefore, the performance will be closely scrutinized. As the headline states, the leak indicates that Meteor Lake’s NPU will have a performance of approximately 10 TOPS (Trillions of Operations Per Second), and it is unlikely this figure has increased since the last reported information session.
Apple leads the pack, AMD close behind
Considering that processors like the Ryzen 7 7040 with Phoenix microarchitecture have been on the laptop market for some time now, we could only expect Intel to surpass the benchmarks set by AMD with this release. AMD’s customized NPU, Ryzen AI, offered 10 TOPS in their APU. As a result, Intel would match the competition in terms of performance.
The issue for Pat Gelsinger and his team at Intel is that AMD already has a successor in sight with the Ryzen 7 8040, which will feature a second-generation Ryzen AI NPU that will increase performance to 16 TOPS, further differentiating it from Intel.
Unless a massive surprise occurs tomorrow, where Intel has found something in the software to improve the NPU’s performance, Meteor Lake’s 10 TOPS and its NPU are 80% less than what an Apple M3 offers with 18 TOPS, for example.
As we do not know exactly how much it influences and how it is managed by software, we cannot draw clear conclusions about this NPU against Ryzen AI. However, based on the paper, Intel matches what is on the market against AMD, will soon fall behind, and is a world away from Apple. Tomorrow should reveal more information and hopefully, the first leaked performance data.