What is the Intel Core Ultra?

edited January 10 in PC Tech

On December 14, 2023, Intel introduced a new line of mobile Intel processors called Intel® Core™ Ultra. These processors are part of Intel’s highly anticipated 14th-generation Meteor Lake series CPUs. Alongside the introduction of the new processors, Intel also unveiled a new naming convention for its mainstream processors, dropping the 'i' from its chip naming scheme and opting for a more straightforward Core 3, 5, and 7 branding structure. Under this new branding structure, the Core brand has been slightly bifurcated, with its premium products now belonging in a category of their own under the new Ultra moniker. 

Core Ultra processors will signify a higher performance tier and target market for the chips and will be the only place Intel uses their top-end Core 9 (previously i9) branding. Specific details on the technical differences between Core and Core Ultra chips have not been provided, with Intel only stating that Core Ultra represents a “premium” brand, whereas Core is simply its “mainstream” brand. Core Ultra processors are more efficient than Core processors, with a 25% reduction in power touted between the Core Ultra 7 165H and its predecessor, the Core i7-1370P.

The Meteor Lake series represents a significant leap forward for Intel in regards to manufacturing, architecture, and design. The 14th-gen processors are the first to use Intel 4 (the 7-nm fabrication process) and the first mass-market consumer processor series from Intel to use silicon manufactured by someone other than Intel (in this case, TSMC in Taiwan). The new chips are also a showcase for Intel’s Foveros packaging technology, which welds several pieces of silicon (“tiles,” in Intel’s words) rather than integrating everything into a single monolithic die.

Capabilities of the new architecture 

Intel is working to promote the new capabilities of the Ultra Core processors by partnering with more than 100 software vendors to bring AI-boosted applications to the PC market—a wide array of creative and productive applications that will change the PC experience. For consumer and commercial customers, this means a larger and more extensive set of AI-enhanced applications will be uniquely optimized to work on Intel Core Ultra, making them more efficient on Intel than on competing silicon platforms. For example, content creators working in Adobe Premiere Pro on Core Ultra will enjoy better performance versus the competition.

Intel Core Ultra–based AI PCs are already available from select U.S. retailers, and over the next year, Intel will bring AI to more than 230 designs from laptop and PC makers worldwide. AI PCs will bring new tools to the way we work, learn, and create. 

Intel is also touting the addition of a neural processing unit to its Core Ultra series, aiming to provide low-power support for AI tasks, such as real-time language translation, audio transcription, image generation, and automation inferencing. 

  • Language translation. The processors enable real-time language translation by utilizing natural language processing algorithms to analyze and interpret spoken or written words in one language and present the corresponding translation in another language. 
  • Audio transcription. Using Whisper AI voice recognition technology, the processors perform audio transcription by processing speech algorithms to convert spoken words or audio recordings into written text. 
  • Image generation. The processors can generate images by employing deep learning models to analyze patterns in existing images and create new visuals that resemble the learned patterns. 
  • Automation inferencing. The processors can conduct automation inferencing by using machine learning algorithms to analyze large amounts of data and predict or make decisions based on patterns and trends in the data. 

World’s first AI PCs 

Core Ultra processors are already powering the world’s first AI PCs, produced by partners such as Acer and Microsoft. 

Acer Predator Triton Neo 16 

The Predator Triton Neo 16 from Acer is one of the first new laptops to take advantage of Intel’s Core Ultra processor, available in Core Ultra 9, 7, and 5 configurations. Because these processors incorporate neural processing units, they can lighten the load for the machine’s CPU and GPU when it comes to complex tasks involving machine learning or AI. The neural processing unit allows the Core Ultra processor housed within to more effectively manage its workload to deliver maximum performance at all times. Not only that, the GPU won’t be busy shouldering any additional number crunching either, meaning you can squeeze the utmost of visual potential out of the Predator Triton’s impressive Nvidia GeForce RTX 40-series graphics, which include the DLSS 3.5 AI-optimized enhancements available for games and creator applications.

The Predator Triton Neo 16 (PTN16-51) will be available in North America in March 2024 starting at $1499.99. For more information about the Predator Triton 16 series of laptops, click here

  • Price: $1,499 (starting) 
  • Release date: March 2024 
  • Display: 16-inch, up to WQXGA (3200 × 2000), 165 Hz 
  • CPU: up to Intel® Core™ Ultra 9 
  • GPU: up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 
  • RAM: up to 32 GB 
  • Storage: up to 2 TB SSD 

Acer Swift Go 14 

Acer’s Swift Go line of ultraportable laptops is another series that will incorporate Intel Core Ultra processors. The sleek and stylish Swift Go 14 is available now in a configuration that includes the new processor along with the new integrated Intel® ARC GPU, which offers an immediate benefit over Intel's previous iGPU series. The Swift Go 14 has a Core Ultra 7 155H processor with six performance cores, eight efficiency cores, and 22 processing threads. This hybrid architecture of combining performance and efficiency cores isn't new. What’s new is the addition of the low-power, dual-core neural processing unit to assist in AI task acceleration and the new tile architecture that stacks “chiplets” like pancakes designed to allow an optimal mix of performance and efficiency.

The Swift Go 14 comes with a QHD webcam capable of 2,560 × 1,440 pixels per inch. Streaming or video conferencing on the laptop is more responsive and requires less power thanks to its new AI-supported hardware and software capabilities: Acer PurifiedVoice technology can remove unwanted background noise, and Acer PurifiedView can showcase the best on-screen appearances, enabling background blur, automatic framing, and gaze correction, perfect for professionals using the webcam on the go. 

  • Price: $999 
  • Release date: December 2023 (available now) 
  • Display: 14-inch, up to WQXGA+ (2880 × 1800), 90 Hz 
  • CPU: Intel® Core™ Ultra 7 155H 
  • GPU: Intel® ARC Graphics shared memory 
  • RAM: 16 GB LPDDR5X 
  • Storage: 1 TB SSD 

As software developers begin to update or introduce new applications with AI features that can take even greater advantage of the new Meteor Lake neural processing unit, the capabilities of hardware that incorporate the new series of processors, and especially the Core Ultra processors, will continue to grow.

Ashley is a technology writer who is interested in computers and software development. He is also a fintech researcher and is fascinated with emerging trends in DeFi, blockchain, and bitcoin. He has been writing, editing, and creating content for the ESL industry in Asia for eight years, with a special focus on interactive, digital learning.



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