Intel doesn’t want you to know about Gemini Lake Atoms

Updated: Released yesterday to no critical praise

Intel LogoIntel launched Gemini Lake yesterday, a product they are so proud of they didn’t tell anyone. SemiAccurate thinks these crippled low end Atoms are both worthless and overpriced, but that did not stop Intel.

According to the not released press release, Intel is slinking out six versions of their new Celeron and Pentium Silver branded Atoms. There are six of these Gemini Lake processors, the N5000 mobile and J5005 desktop Pentium Silvers plus the N4000 and N4100 mobile Celerons along with the J4105 and J4005 desktop Celerons. We tried to come up with something nice to say about these turkeys but, well, there really isn’t any.

How bad is it? Even Intel’s new PR paradigm of not revealing anything technical is having a rough time of things. Their biggest selling point? Gemini Lake is 58% faster in productivity apps than a comparable four year old PC. That would be a circa 2013 Atom based PC mind you, something that was painfully, unusably slow back then. These new slugs are 58% faster! Why not buy tons?

One good reason is the Pentium Silver duo, idiotic naming notwithstanding, goes for a ‘mere’ $161. Yes you read that right, your choice is an anemic Atom based ‘Pentium’ Silver with borderline non-functional Intel UHD 605 (whatever that entails) graphics or for $8 more a 4C AMD Ryzen 5 1500X. 2C at 1.5/2.8GHz or 3.7GHz turbo? Sure the crippled Atom has a lower TDP but it is an Atom after all. We won’t point out the AMD Raven Ridge lineup, that would just be cruel to compare against.

Since we do want to be a bit pointed in our comments, let us also point out that last week Qualcomm announced PCs based on their Snapdragon 835 SoC. While these chips don’t have the peak clocks of the Gemini Lake parts, they do sport 4x the core count and have a core that will destroy the Atoms in performance. Plus their GPU not only works, it will similarly annihilate the Intel counterparts, and do so on significantly less wattage. Then there is LTE, something Intel can’t do much less do well in this price point. All of this Qualcomm goodness comes at a price however, somewhere between half and a quarter of what Intel wants for Gemini depending on whose prices you believe. [Editor’s reference: Qualcomm’s is an SOC whilst the Gemini Lake parts require a chipset.  Charlie did not factor this in the price estimates listed above.]

Updated December 13, 2017@8:10am: It looks like the two bigger Pentiums are 4C/4T not 2C/2T. In our opinion it doesn’t change anything useful but does narrow the price/performance chasm a bit.

Intel’s main focus on their non-release is I/O which effectively compares 802.11N to 802.11AC. This is somehow supposed to make a slow PC tolerable, you can download an 8GB HD movie in 1M instead of 10M now. Great but these new Atoms are too slow to do anything with them other than stutter. Would it be mean to point out the factual error in their release, “Up to two times faster download speed than a 2×2 802.11AC” is incorrect, they should have had it against vanilla 802.11AC. This new Intel is all about accuracy in messaging, can’t you tell?

Intel Gemini Lake inaccuracy


Other than that not much more to tell. Gemini Lake is a 14nm Atom in the guise of a real processor. Over the last four years it only gained 58% performance, in productivity apps, vs the already anemic Atoms of the day or ~15% per year. The only thing Intel can claim as a win here is they updated the Wi-Fi to 802.11ac 2×2, the rest barely passes the smell test. For $107 for the Celerons and $161 for the Pentiums, it isn’t a case of being able to do better, it is a case of having to search high and low to do worse. And that is before we mention for the money. Avoid Gemini Lake like the plague, there is nothing good here.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also available through Guidepoint and Mosaic. FullyAccurate