What is “CometLake”?
It is one of the 10th generation Core arch (CML) from Intel – the latest revision of the venerable (6th gen!) “Skylake” (SKL) arch; it succeeds the “CofeeLake” 8/9-gen current architectures for desktop devices. The “real” 10th generation Core arch is “IceLake” (ICL) that does bring many changes – but has only released on mobile (ULV) devices so far. It is likely Intel will skip it altogether – on the desktop.
As a result there ar no major updates vs. previous “Skylake” (SKL) designs, save increase in core count top end versions and hardware vulnerability mitigations which can still make a big difference:
- Up to 10C/20T (from 8C/10T “CoffeeLake” or 4C/8T “Skylake”/”KabyLake”)
- Increase Turbo ratios, base clocks
- Hyper-Threading (SMT) enabled on all Core SKUs (i9, i7, i5, i3)
- 2-channel DDR4-2933 (up from 2667)
- Thunderbolt 3 integrated
- Hardware fixes/mitigations for vulnerabilities (“Meltdown”, “MDS”, various “Spectre” types)
- New platform based on LGA1200 socket – thus new motherboards
Unlike CML ULV – we have a modest increase in core count (10C/20T vs. CFL 8C/16T) in the same 125W TDP power envelope – but it is still a big increase vs older designs that have always had 4C/8T. Hyper-Threading is no longer disabled on i7, i5 that – should you wish to keep it enabled – can still provide good performance gains in many applications.
DDR4 official speed support has gone up to 2993Mt/s (46GB/s bandwidth) up from 2667Mt/s which should help feed all those extra cores.
While CFL does mitigate “Meltdown” (CVE-2017-5754 “rogue data cache load”) and reports “not vulnerable” (can be checked with Sandra or similar utility) – due to MDS (to which CFL is vulnerable) recent versions of Windows do consider KVA (“kernel VA shadowing”) required and enable it by default. Thus the relatively large overhead of “Meltdown” mitigation is back. ML does report “not vulnerable” to both “Meltdown” and MDS and thus KVA is not required nor enabled. Hopefully there will be no further vulnerabilities discovered to undo these fixes.
Why review it now?
As “IceLake” (ICL) does not seem to make its public debut on desktop/workstation, “CometLake” (CML) is the latest APU from Intel you can buy today;despite being just a revision of “Skylake” due to increased core counts/Turbo ratios they may still prove worthy competitors not just in cost but also performance.
As per above, the additional hardware fixes/mitigations for vulnerabilities discovered since “Cofeelake” launched – especially “Meltdown” but also “Spectre” variants – the operating system & applications do not need to deploy slower mitigations that can affect performance (especially I/O). For some workloads, this may be worth an upgrade alone!
To compare against the other Gen10 CPU, please see our other articles:
- Intel Core Gen11 TigerLake ULV (i7-1165G7) Review & Benchmarks – CPU AVX512 Performance
- Intel Core Gen10 IceLake ULV (i7-1065G7) Review & Benchmarks – CPU AVX512 Performance
- Benchmarks of JCC Erratum Mitigation – Intel CPUs
We are comparing the top-of-the-range Intel desktop with competing architectures (gen 8, 7, 6) as well as competiors (AMD) with a view to upgrading to a mid-range but high performance design.
|CPU Specifications||Intel i9 10900K (CML)||Intel i9 9900K (CFL)||AMD Ryzen 9 3900X||AMD Ryzen 7 3700X||Comments|
|Cores (CU) / Threads (SP)||10C / 20T||8C / 16T||12C / 24T||8C / 16T||25% increase in core count|
|Speed (Min / Max / Turbo)||1.6-3.7-5.3GHz||1.6-3.6-5GHz||3.8-4.6GHz||3.6-4.4GHz||CML has modest Turbo increase.|
|Power (TDP)||125W||95W||105W||65W||25% increase in TDP|
|L1D / L1I Caches||10x 32kB 8-way / 10x 32kB 8-way||8x 32kB 8-way / 8x 32kB 8-way||12x 32kB 8-way / 12x 32kB 8-way||8x 32kB 8-way / 8x 32kB 8-way||No L1 changes|
|L2 Caches||10x 256kB 8-way||8x 256kB 16-way||12x 512kB 16-way||8x512kB 16-way||No L2 changes|
|L3 Caches||20MB 16-way||16MB 16-way||4x 16MB 16-way (64MB)||2x 16MB 16-way (32MB)||25% larger L3|
|Microcode (Firmware)||MU06A505-C8||MU069E0C-9E||MU8F71000-21||MU8F7100-13||Revisions just keep on coming.|
We are testing native arithmetic, SIMD and cryptography performance using the highest performing instruction sets (AVX2, AVX, etc.). “CometLake” (CML) supports all modern instruction sets including AVX2, FMA3 but not AVX512 (like “IceLake”, “Skylake-X”) or SHA HWA (like Atom, Ryzen).
Results Interpretation: Higher values (GOPS, MB/s, etc.) mean better performance.
Environment: Windows 10 x64, latest AMD and Intel drivers. 2MB “large pages” were enabled and in use. Turbo / Boost was enabled on all configurations.
Intel themselves did not claim a big performance improvement – possibly as it makes CFL pretty much obsolete, but with slightly more cores and higher clocks/TDP CML can reach Ryzen 3900X levels of performance which is no mean feat. With ZEN3 looking to launch soon, this is not before time.
SiSoftware Official Ranker Scores
Final Thoughts / Conclusions
For some it may be disappointing we do not have brand-new improved “IceLake” (ICL) now rather than a 3-rd revision “Skylake”, but “CometLake” (CML) does seem to improve even over the previous revisions (8/9th gen /”CofeeLake”CFL) due to modest increase in cores, base/Turbo clocks but perhaps also due to hardware-based vunerabilities mitigations which no longer require costly software versions.
Thus, somewhat surprisingly CML is able to trade blows with the 3900X and its 12C/24T that shows the heavily-revised “Skylake” core can still pack a punch against AMD’s latest and greatest. Naturally we would have preferred 12-cores not 10 but that would likely “eat” even further into Intel’s HEDT platform.
While owners of 8/9-th gen won’t be upgrading – it is very rare to recommend changing from one generation to another anyway – owners of older hardware can look forward to over 2x performance increase in most workloads for the same power draw, not to mention the additional features.
On the other hand, the competition (AMD Ryzen 3000 series) has more cores (12C and more) for great cost and performance – and still compatible with the old (with BIOS update) AM4 socket mainboards! With CML needing a new motherboard (LGA1200) and future “IceLake”-based CPUs possibly needing new motherboards again, CML is very much a stop-gap solution.
All in all Intel has managed to squeeze all it can from the old “Skylake” arch that while not revolutionary, still has enough to be competitive with current designs; while it goes out on a high, it is likely the end-of-the-road for this core.
In a word: Qualified Recommendation
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