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  • Writer's pictureCarolina MIlanesi

Green Processing: How Intel's Meteor Lake Champions Sustainability

Earlier this week, Intel launched its next-gen CPU called Meteor Lake, the first built on the Intel 4 process, which is part of Intel’s long-term goal of “5 nodes in 4 years.” This processor will be Intel’s first consumer processor to move to a chiplet-based design, where the CPU, GPU, and other components are split into separate “tiles” that are joined together by a base tile1. Meteor Lake will use a combination of chiplets manufactured by both Intel and TSMC. The integrated GPU in Meteor Lake will feature hardware ray-tracing acceleration. 


While a lot has been written already about this new architecture not much attention has been paid to the sustainability implications of the new design. 

Intel looks at sustainability in its PC lifecycle as an opportunity that spans across the spectrum, from manufacturing to operational and end-of-life. The sustainability play starts with the silicon, but it doesn't end with the silicon manufacturing. There is the board that has the entire life of the chassis, which has embodied carbon that needs to be reduced. The operational phase is when the user is using the system, which involves the various energy efficiencies that we can help to conserve power, the ability to repair and upgrade the PC in an easy, secure and streamlined way. Finally, there is the wear and tear of the system so that when it gets closer to the end of life, it is about being able to get residual value. 


With Meteor Lake, Intel’s vision has really come to life. 


“Harnessing collaborative synergy with the ecosystem, we present a robust portfolio of sustainability platform technologies. From silicon genesis to the final product, we champion reduced embodied carbon, fostering energy-efficient solutions tailored for diverse applications. Our innovations include compact, modular boards that are both repairable and upgradable, advanced telemetry that monitors wear and tear throughout the product's lifecycle, and secure erasure of user/IT content, priming the product for recycling or redeployment in its next avatar. Through our pioneering reference designs, we empower our customers to craft PCs that epitomize sustainability, marrying technology with ecological prudence for a greener, more harmonious future,” said Gokul V Subramaniam, Vice President, Client Computing Group and GM Client Platform & Systems

In the realm of manufacturing, Intel has embraced a reference design that has a minimal carbon footprint and features displays with extremely tiny bolts. Operationally speaking, discussions around optics and energy performance optimization have been ongoing. Additionally, Intel is introducing intelligent display technology that adjusts the display based on user presence, which is particularly beneficial with the influx of OLED-based PCs in the market. 


Regarding repairability, Intel is developing modular motherboards, enabling the repair of individual components instead of replacing the entire board—a notable instance being the I/O board within its laptops. This approach minimizes impact and facilitates specific repairs without the need to replace the entire motherboard following a malfunction.

Intel is also introducing an innovative system self-cleaning feature—a fan technology that reverses direction during periods of user inactivity to periodically expel dust and prevent accumulation, thus maintaining optimal performance over time. As the system reaches the end of its lifecycle, the silicon giant integrated technologies like platform service record to track usage and securely wipe user content and IP version.


Intel is incorporating close to 14 technologies, to help drive sustainability within the ecosystem. These technologies are scalable, and intel is collaborating with the ecosystem and customers to integrate them into Meteor Lake designs. 


Meteor Lake, exemplifying an end-to-end platform, is dedicated to optimizing every system aspect and surpasses basic calculations. With over 30 incorporated technologies, aside from the Meteor Lake silicon, we are aiding our customers in developing compelling form factors, enriched user experiences, and sustainable PCs.


Intel, of course, is not new to sustainability. Here are some numbers in key areas that outline Intel’s path to a more sustainable operation and products:


Electricity Consumption

2022 Milestones: Reached 100% renewable electricity utilization in the U.S., EU, Israel, and Malaysia, nearing the 100% mark in Costa Rica, hence elevating the global usage to 93%.

Five-Year Achievement: Procured 33.6 billion kWh of renewable electricity, sufficient to power over 3.2 million U.S. homes for a year.


Water Conservation

2022 Highlights: Conserved around 9.6 billion gallons of water within its facilities and championed the restoration of 3.0 billion gallons through water-shed restoration initiatives.

Net Positive Water: Accomplished net positive water status in the U.S. and India, marking a significant milestone in water conservation.

Waste Management

2022 Developments: Implemented circular economy strategies in about 67% of its manufacturing waste streams through reuse, recovery, or recycling endeavors.

Long-term Progress: Since the mid-90s, Intel elevated its global recycling rate of non-hazardous waste from 25% to a commendable 87%, despite business expansion.


Sustainable Computing

GHG Emissions: Committed to diminishing greenhouse gas emissions not just within the organization but throughout its value chain, registering a 4% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions since 2019.


Industry Collaboration

Cemented its role as a founding member of the Semiconductor Climate Consortium, aimed at rallying industry stakeholders to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Green Chemistry Initiatives


Collaborative Efforts: Partnering with industry stakeholders and academic institutions to foster green chemistry solutions and promote sustainable semiconductor manufacturing.

Program Launch: Collaboratively initiating a program with SEMI and the Semiconductor Research Corporation to develop safer chemical alternatives.


As we venture deeper into the era of generative AI, the computational demands have skyrocketed, necessitating a sustainable approach to meet the ever-growing requirements. Generative AI models like GPT-3 are incredibly data-intensive, requiring vast amounts of computational power, which in turn demands substantial energy resources. This burgeoning energy requirement imposes a significant environmental footprint, an aspect that cannot be overlooked in the contemporary context of the climate crisis.

A sustainable approach in developing and deploying generative AI models implies leveraging energy-efficient hardware, optimizing algorithms for better performance with fewer resources, and possibly incorporating renewable energy sources in data centers. This approach not only promotes environmental conservation but also aids in economizing the operations, as energy costs constitute a considerable part of the operational expenditure.


It is crucial to spearhead research and development initiatives that are focused on creating AI models that are both power-efficient and possess a smaller carbon footprint. At the same time, however, it is paramount to develop sustainable silicon architectures to power experiences across computing experiences, whether on phones, PCs or VR headsets.



Disclosure: The Heart of Tech is a research and consultancy firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this column. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this column.

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