Further to our recent post about spotting Denverton silicon on display at Computex this year, we also caught an Apollo Lake mini-PC motherboard doing the rounds at the ECS booth. The mini-PC line from ECS incorporates many versions of the Liva, which run the gamut from dual core Atom all the way up to Core-M and Core i3, depending on how much power you need or how much you want to spend. Ganesh has in recent months reviewed the LIVA One with Skylake, the LIVA Core with Core-M, the LIVA x2 with Braswell and the LIVA X with Bay Trail-M. Based on that naming scheme, the motherboard we saw at Computex from ECS stands to be something like the LIVA x3.

  

Apollo Lake uses Intel’s latest Atom cores, based on the Goldmont microarchitecture. We reported on Broxton for smartphones and tablets, also based on Goldmont, being canned earlier this year however the microarchitecture will live on in notebooks and mini-PCs for 2016 and 2017 (with servers/embedded even later). This motherboard shows an unknown Apollo Lake die, measuring in at 159.7 mm2 (11.24 x 9.98 mm), with DC-In power, dual network ports, three USB 3.0 Type-A ports, one USB 3.0 Type-C port, a HDMI output, a mini-DP output, two SO-DIMM slots and dual M.2: one for WiFi and one for storage.

Comparison of Intel's Entry-Level PC and Tablet Platforms
  Bay Trail Braswell Cherry Trail Apollo Lake
Microarchitecture Silvermont Airmont Airmont Goldmont
Core Count Up to 4
Graphics uArch Gen 7 Gen8 Gen8 Gen9
EU Count unknown 16 12/16 unknown (24?)
Multimedia
Codecs
MPEG-2
MPEG-4 AVC
VC-1
WMV9
HEVC (SW only)
VP9 (SW only)
MPEG-2
MPEG-4 AVC
VC-1
WMV9
HEVC (8-bit software/hybrid)
VP9 (software/hybrid)
MPEG-2
MPEG-4 AVC
VC-1
WMV9
HEVC
VP9
Process Technology 22 nm 14 nm 14 nm 14 nm
Launch Q1 2014 H1 2015 2015 H2 2016

We reported on Apollo Lake being unveiled at IDF Shenzhen back in April, with up to four cores and Intel’s Gen9 graphics with an unknown amount of execution units. Apollo Lake supports DDR3L as well as LPDDR3/4, eMMC for storage, soldered down 802.11ac Intel WiFi and improved PMIC (power management) options. One of the headlines from the IDF Shenzhen presentation was the reduction in bill of materials cost (BOM) for the OEMs, up to $7, compared to the previous generation.

Along with a new ‘cloudbook’ category (i.e. Chromebook-style), Intel expects Apollo Lake to be in notebooks, all-in-ones and mini-PCs similar to ECS’ design. ECS also had a number of mini-STX designs on display, along with a couple of Intel engineers with some alternative combination mini-PC configurations. 

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  • Meteor2 - Sunday, July 17, 2016 - link

    Thanks. The information I was referring to is in the original Anandtech article detailing the scrapping of Broxton:

    What's less clear at the moment is whether this will also impact the low-cost/non-premium tablet market, as embodied by products such as the Surface 3. In their updated statement, Intel has told us that Broxton is cancelled for both "phones and tablets." Our current understanding is that Broxton is the SoC at the heart of the Willow Trail platform – the successor to the widely used Cherry Trail-T – but at this time Intel has not explicitly confirmed whether this is in fact Willow Trail, or if Broxton's tablet variation represented another platform altogether. Though regardless of what happens with traditional tablets, we'll continue see Intel in more premium tablet-like devices such as 2-in-1s (e.g. Surface Pro) via Apollo Lake and the Core processor lineup, as Intel has previously identified convertable devices as a growth market for the company.

    "Update 5/02: In a newer statement, Intel has confirmed that Apollo Lake will be offered to tablet manufacturers. At this point it's not clear what the tradeoffs are for that versus Willow Trail, and whether Apollo Lake is suitable for all types of devices that the current-generation Cherry Trail has been used in. But this does mean we will see tablets using the Goldmont CPU core, while Intel Intel will flesh out the rest of their tablet SoCs with Core-based parts. Intel will also "continue to support" their tablet customers with Bay Trail, Cherry Trail, and SoFIA parts.'

    --that to me suggests we'll see fanless Goldmont-based cores in tablets.
    Reply
  • Klug4Pres - Sunday, July 17, 2016 - link

    Yes, I read that and even sent my third lifetime tweet to Ian Cutress, pointing out that Apollo Lake has only been discussed by Intel in relation to "Cloudbooks". Predecessor chips in this class did not support s0ix and platform power has been over 6 Watts, and there is every sign that will be the case again. This makes them unsuitable for tablets, but clearly there is no universal definition of "tablet" so it is possible something will be released that could be so classified. It wouldn't be the Surface 4 though. Reply
  • Meteor2 - Sunday, July 17, 2016 - link

    I think, sadly, you're right. I've experienced two Bay Trail tablets, one running Android and the other Windows 10 (presents for my dad and sister), and rather liked them. It will be a shame if they were a short-lived anomaly. It does look like, performance-wise, A9X and Core M are comparable, so I guess that left no place for a cheap but uncompetitive (versus Apple) tablet CPU. Even if it would've run Andoid or Windows 10 just fine. Reply
  • londedoganet - Saturday, July 16, 2016 - link

    That's one super-reflective chip in the first picture; you can even see the lens ring around the smartphone being used to take the picture. Was it lapped? Reply
  • ArdWar - Saturday, July 16, 2016 - link

    Every silicon wafer for semiconductor fabbing is polished down to sub-nanometer scale.

    Heck, if you slice the crystal right, you can have almost zero rougness.
    Reply
  • BernardP - Monday, July 18, 2016 - link

    Despite the planned H2 release, when can we expect to see Apollo Lake available in Chromebooks and Cloudbooks? Laptops using the refreshed Braswell chips (eg: N3060) are just starting to become available. The retail channel is still stuffed with Bay Trail machines (N2840). I am inclined to believe we won't see Apollo Lake in actual products before Q2 2017. Reply
  • Aclive - Saturday, July 23, 2016 - link

    Intel GPU sucks as a rule...replaced 3 generations of atom powered SFF itx in favour of AMD specifically because of graphics issues, AMD CPU on board ITX may not be the fastest, but rarely have video or driver issues on win 10....wake up Intel...your Atom drivers SUCK! Reply

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