Intel recently announced and is starting to roll-out their line-up of 12th Generation processors for fanless embedded computers and processor shopping is about to get more confusing. The latest generation of Intel CPUs are taking a piece of the mobile-phone playbook and introducing processor cores that are ultra-efficient for background tasks. So now on higher-end processors, you’ll see P-Cores and E-Cores listed. But what does it mean?
First off, a bit of CPU history. In traditional multi-core processors that have dominated the Windows world for years, every CPU core is identical. They all perform the same, suck the same amount of power, etc… Even when the CPU isn’t doing much (which most of the time it isn’t), it generally still draws the same amount of power.
This isn’t as much of a problem if you have a desktop computer that’s plugged into the wall, but what if you have a device that’s running off battery (laptops, phones, etc…)? Smartphone CPU designers created solutions to work around this by creating multi-core CPUs that have some power-hungry processor cores but also some lower-power processor cores for doing simple tasks that don’t require much work. Those lower-power cores allow your battery last much longer on your smartphone.