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Intel Core Ultra for a more Efficient, Powerful and Smarter AI PC

It was not long ago that when people wanted to buy a new computer, they’d ask for a Pentium. Intel was so successful with that line that it took them quite a while to transition to the Core i series, driving the path to multi-core processing on top of pure raw power as indicated by the CPU clock speed. It was easy to determine which CPU type is the fastest and the most powerful.

The Advent of AI

The modern era of AI, sometimes referred to as “machine learning” and “deep learning,” go all the way back in the 90s. It was developed with the use of large datasets, advanced algorithms, and significant computational power to create systems that learn from data.

Remember IBM’s Deep Blue defeating chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov in 1997? That was the very first major breakthrough that got us excited (at the same time worried) about the vast potential and power of AI.

These past few years, AI is driven by advancements in hardware, such as GPUs and TPUs, which accelerate complex computations. AI applications now span diverse fields including natural language processing, computer vision, autonomous vehicles, healthcare and many more.

AI in our Lives

The very first practical use of AI that I encountered was around 2017 when smartphone manufacturers integrated NPUs (neural processing units) in order to improve camera photography.

The phone can now quickly identify subjects so that when it takes photos, it is able to enhance the images based on the type subject. As such, we get greener foliage, pinkish skin, vibrant flowers and bluish skies when taking photos of these subjects. These basic AI functions have evolved in the past couple of years to be more powerful, accurate and efficient. Needless to say, it has become part of our daily lives.

The more recent developments point to AI PCs with specialized hardware and software that offer enhanced capabilities – real-time language translation, intelligent personal assistants, and advanced security features.

These PCs leverage AI to improve user experience, boost productivity, and perform tasks traditionally requiring human intelligence. Intel has been at the forefront in AI-powered PCs with the development of the Intel Core Ultra line of chipsets. Its aim is to bring AI all the way from the cloud to your device.

What is AI PC

Intel defines an AI PC as a combination of hardware and software that handles artificial intelligence and machine learning tasks right into your PC. This approach is faster and more efficient than sending data in the cloud to be processed and returned back to the user.

From the hardware side, you got the CPU and the GPU. With the Intel Core Ultra, you also get an NPU or a neural processing unit. NPUs are better than GPUs when it comes to handling deep learning computations, especially in terms of efficiency and speed.

For the software side, you get Microsoft Copilot and Copilot Key.

With every Intel Core Ultra-powered AI PC, expect the benefits of AI delivered to you directly from the device.

Intel Core Ultra: Explained

The current generation of Intel CPUs are wide-ranging, depending on the type platform and user-demand. On top of the existing ones, we now have the Intel Core Ultra line.

You will see these new chipsets in the latest laptops released this 2024. Intel dropped the “i” in the Core series and simply renamed them Core 3, 5 and 7. There’s also the Core Ultra 5, 7 and 9 that come in the more premium laptops.

The Asus Zenbook 14 OLED 2024 that we have here as a sample review unit comes with an Intel Core Ultra 5 125H. This completely new naming convention might seem confusing at first but they’re basically a more simplified scheme.

Let me explain this a bit.

The Core Ultra 5 is the mid-level chipset with the 125H as the processor number. The 1 in 125 means the 1st series of the new generation, while the 25 indicates the SKU number.

When compared to the old naming system, the 1 Series is equivalent to 15th gen. On that note, the succeeding 16th gen translates to the 2 Series so we will get a 225H. Following us, so far?

The suffix “H” indicates “high-performance” and is delegated in the premium series. The other suffix in use now is the “U”, and that one indicates low-power for “Ultra slim” devices. Hence, expect the H variants to draw more power (typically 28W to 25W) than the U variants (9W to 15W).

The Core Ultra 5 125H has a total of 14 cores and 18 threads. If you think these are a lot of cores, this is because Intel decided to be more efficient where it counts and that is what each of the 3 different cores are for. Let’s dig deeper here.

The first set are called Performance-cores (P-cores for short) and they’re involved in all the heavy work loads of the computer. The 2nd set are called the Efficient-cores (E-cores) and are involved in workloads that help in conserving power. Furthermore, Intel even added Low-Power Efficient cores or LP-E cores that stretches power-efficiency further.

So, in the case of the Ultra 5 125H, it’s got 4 P-cores (with 8 threads), 8 E-cores (with 8 threads) and 2 LP-E cores (with 2 threads).

The P-cores have a 1.2GHz base clock speed (4.5GHz Turbo Boost), a 700MHz base clock speed for the E-cores (3.6GHz Turbo Boost) and 700MHz base clock speed for the LP-E cores (2.5GHz Turbo Boost).

Sounds less complicated now?

If there’s one thing I’m sure you’ve noticed as well is that there are a lot more cores and threads in the Core Ultra 5 (compared to the previous Core i5 series). That’s because Intel is more particular with the versatility and efficiency of its mobile chipsets than ever before. The different sets of cores (P, E, LP-E) all have very specific and targeted workload tasks that power takes efficiency very seriously.

The addition of the LP-E cores added a lot of advantages in lowering over-all power consumption of laptops when running any of these tasks:

  • Netflix video playback (up to 25% less power)
  • Local 4K video playback
  • Idle Desktop (on Windows)

Many other mundane tasks that we do on our laptop on a regular basis should benefit from this – think Spotify, Word, Excel and similar others.

Yet, when you need all the clock speed you want for more power-hungry workloads like Photoshop, Lightroom or Adobe Premiere Pro, you will get all the juice you’d need with the 4 P-cores.

Intel Arc Graphics

Then again, if you still need more processing power, like video rendering, the Intel Core Ultra 5 125H comes with Intel Arc Graphics which comes with 7 Xe cores and 112 Xe Vector Engines. This is a much more powerful integrated graphics developed by Intel for gaming and high output display. Intel claims at least double the performance of the older Intel Iris Xe.

It supports ray tracing, up to 4 displays and a maximum resolution of 7680 x 4320 pixels thanks to the native 8K 10-bit hardware encoder.

What does this mean? Expect to be able to play a large number of PC games on your laptop at full HD 1080p resolution with smooth playback without the need to set the graphics settings to the lowest level.

If you’re a content creator and work with Adobe Premiere Pro on a regular basis, expect to get faster video rendering time with the Intel Arc graphics.

If you’re into gaming, the Xe Super Sampling is an AI based high-performance upscaling to provide better quality and frame rates. Expect a more improved gaming experience when playing popular games like World of Warcraft, League of Legends, CS2, PUBG and Overwatch.

That’s not all the benefit you would get.

AI Boosted for Creators

Perhaps, the biggest and most significant development with the Intel Core Ultra series is the inclusion of an NPU (as mentioned earlier) and what it refers to as Intel AI Boost.

Prior to the NPU, all of the workload was shared by the CPU and the GPU. This eats up a lot of power and is inefficient. With the inclusion of the NPU, the device is able to offload the task from the CPU/GPU and handle it with more efficiency and less power.

We’ve seen how smartphones have improved through the years with the integration of NPUs to the chipset. It is able to capture better photos, produce immersive sound, improve audio recording, extend battery life and many more.

Intel hopes to achieve the same with the Core Ultra series.

Again, if you’re working with Adobe Premiere Pro all the time, you will notice a considerable performance improvement with color grading, scene editing and exporting. Render and export times in DaVinci Resolve is about 20%, while AI Photo Editing on Adobe Lightroom will have improved by 50%.

When working with software like Wondershare (Filmora 13), you can enjoy the benefits of AI Editing like scene detection, auto frame and visual effects.

As more and more ISV (independent software vendors) are being onboarded by Intel (over 100 as of last update) to harness its AI capabilities, the sooner we can see the benefits when working with Intel Core Ultra devices.


Our sample unit, an ASUS Zenbook 14 OLED (UX3405MA), is just one of the many laptops that are being released in the market with the new Intel Core Ultra chipsets.

Aside from the Intel Core Ultra 5 125H, the stock unit comes with 16GB of DDR5 RAM and 1TB of NVMe storage.

Here are the results of our own benchmark tests:

CineBench R23: 440pts (Single core), 7,431 (Multi core)
GeekBench v6.3 CPU: 1,486 (Single core), 7,984 (Multi core)
GeekBench v6.3 GPU: 22,122 (Vulkan), 22,813 (OpenCL)

Blackmagic RAW Speed Test: 29 fps (8K CPU), 36 fps (8K OpenCL)

CrystalDiskMark 8: 5,062MB/s (S. Read), 3,395 MB/s (S. Write), 312 MB/s (R. Read), 286 MB/s (R. Write)

We also ran a few battery tests, including one Netflix web streaming and got a time of 15 hours and 52 minutes at 50% brightness, 50% volume and in WiFi mode running Microsoft Edge browser. That’s some pretty good battery life there.

For native video playback using VLC player, the laptop got an estimated 13 hours and 55 minutes of battery life playing a full HD 1080p movie at 50% brightness and 50% volume with WiFi turned off.

Final Thoughts

This is, by far, one of the biggest advances we’ve seen in personal computing for a long time. Perhaps even as far back as 2010 when Intel first introduced integrated graphics with their CPUs (Intel HD Graphics).

Intel’s approach with the Core Ultra is so novel and makes a lot of sense, one would wonder why they have done this much earlier.

Intel has finally made a new platform that is truly a mobile-first ecosystem – one that is equally focused on efficiency and performance, balanced by an integrated AI capability.

Acer, Asus, Lenovo, HP and MSI 15 have an Intel AI PC for you. Price starts at Php49,995 and is readily available at Electroworld, Gigahertz, Octagon, PC Express, Silicon Valley, and Villman stores nationwide.

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Avatar for Abe Olandres

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech with over 20 years of experience in the technology industry. He is one of the pioneers of blogging in the country and considered by many as the Father of Tech Blogging in the Philippines. He is also a technology consultant, a tech columnist with several national publications, resource speaker and mentor/advisor to several start-up companies.

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