AMD already fired a strong shot across the bow on day one, so day two of Computex 2019 was Intel's chance to respond. The CPU giant had already unveiled their ninth-generation mobile CPUs in the weeks leading up to the annual tech show, and the improved performance of their Ice Lake integrated graphics was only the opening salvo.
Intel's keynote was already preceded by talk of their Ice Lake mobile CPUs, which the company was touting as having double the gaming performance of their 9th generation integrated graphics. On the desktop side of the equation, Intel also unveiled the Core i9-9900KS, a gaming-focused octa-core CPU that would support all 8 cores running at 5GHz (a jump from their 8086K limited edition CPU, where only one core could run at 5GHz).
Computex is usually where companies get together, talk about their upcoming products, how they're faster than last year, and just generally have a good time. But every now and again, those announcements veer from hype and excitement to throwing outright shade.
The conference began with a look back at Intel's earliest processors and beginnings—a theme among a lot of Computex conferences this year—before pivoting to the appeal of working remotely. "Another survey that we did, 42 percent of millenials, the largest contingent in the workforce, say they'd rather leave than work at a company that doesn't have the technology that meets their standards," Gregory Bryant said.
That led straight into the 9th generation vPro desktop and mobile CPUs, with 14 SKUs purpose-built for business. Acer, Asus, HP, Dell, Lenovo and HP would all be shipping systems targeting small businesses and professionals using the new vPro guts, including the Dell Precision and the all-in-one HP Elite system. A Lenovo X1 system was also displayed, featuring an OLED screen. 14 Xeon E CPUs were then unveiled, targeting entry-level workstation and desktop usage.
A range of slim laptops, desktops and 2-in-1 PCs were then rolled out, with Acer revealing that their gaming business has essentially doubled every year for the last few years. Focusing on content creation, a pitch was made to engineers, programmers and content creators that use gaming PCs and laptops—not because they are gamers, but because gaming PCs were the only viable hardware solutions.
That line of PCs is called Concept D—which was first announced in April—with a focus on silent operation, colour accuracy, along with the performance needed for content creation. A couple of desktop replacements were displayed, including a laptop design where the laptop screen is rotatable rather than being completely fixed to the chassis. To help power this category, Intel is launching a new line of X-Series CPUs in the Australian spring.
After a brief intermission featuring two musicians, the conference pivoted towards gaming. Intel quoted a figure of 580 million "gaming enthusiasts", and Dell—which owns the Alienware brand—came on stage. After noting that gaming was worth approximately $US3 billion to the company, and that the gaming industry generated more money than the global film and TV industries worldwide, Dell introduced the latest refresh of their Alienware M15 and M17 laptops.
Outfitted with the 9th generation Intel mobile CPUs, the whole unit weighs 2.16kg and comes with an optional OLED screen. A short demo was run with the M15 with streamer Dr Lupo, showcasing Fortnite in the game's Creator Mode, running at highs of 162fps and lows around the 110fps mark. A test was then run on an adjacent desktop PC using the i9-9900KS, running at a flat 240fps. The action was then alt-tabbed to reveal a virtual green screen studio using the Holoset software while Fortnite was running in the background.
For gamers and overclockers, Intel announced the Intel Performance Maximizer (IPM) overclocking tool would be released for free in the middle of June. Intel already has software out in the wild—Intel's Extreme Tuning Utility has been part of the enthusiast PC world for overclocking, tuning and benchmarking for years—but IPM is designed to be more accessible for more users. Features include the ability to analyse the potential of each core in a system, maximising the performance for each individual core rather than a flat overclock for the whole system.
Project Athena, which Intel announced at CES, then got top billing. PCs that meet the first iteration of Project Athena's standard, which focuses on low power optimisations, future technologies and capabilities like 5G, and battery life of 16 hours or more during local video playback, would be out by the end of the year. Lenovo's Yoga S940 would be one laptop that meets the standard, with the whole unit weighing 1.2kg and only 12mm thick.
The final launch of the conference of the 10th generation Ice Lake chips, which are in production and already shipping. Some of the benefits from the 10nm chips were already known, including the better integrated graphics and integrated Wi-Fi 6 and Thunderbolt 3 support. Laptops featuring the Ice Lake chips included a HP 13-inch Envy with a wood-grain finish, weighing less than 1.2kg. Intel then showcased Destiny 2 running off a machine with integrated graphics, although there was no performance metrics or enemy-intensive scenes shown.