Intel Alder Lake release date, specs and performance

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  • Release Date: November 4, 2021
  • Architecture: Golden Cove (Performance) + Gracemont cores (Efficient)
  • Max cores: 8P + 8E (24 threads)
  • Graphics processor: Intel UHD Graphics 770
  • Socket: LGA 1700
  • Process: Intel 7 (formerly known as 10nm Enhanced SuperFin)
  • RAM Support: DDR5-4800 and DDR4-3200

The Intel Alder Lake processor line is the 12th generation Core processor family for desktops and laptops. Intel has confirmed that Alder Lake will launch on November 4, 2021, with a fair amount of details officially made public during its Innovation event October 27.

Alder Lake represents a significant change in the way processors are assembled, as it will be Intel’s first hybrid design for desktop computers. It will also be the first desktop processor to use the Intel 7 production process, which was previously known as the 10nm Enhanced SuperFin process – the name recently changed when Intel realigned its naming scheme with other manufacturers. of chips.

Intel Alder Lake Slide

(Image credit: Intel)

Hybrid design refers to the fact that Alder Lake uses a mix of high performance and high efficiency cores in a single chip package, in the same way that ARM has high power and low power cores in its mobile chips. This is why the number of cores above is written as 8P + 8E, that is, eight large “Performance” cores and eight smaller and more “efficient” cores.

The big Golden Cove silicon looks a lot like the cores you’ll find in current Intel processors and represents an evolution from the Willow Cove core design inside the Tiger Lake processors found in Intel mobile chips. current 11th generation.

For high-performance cores, Intel turned to its Atom offerings. In case you haven’t been paying attention to the budget laptop market, Atom is Intel’s brand of low-power, low-power mobile processors. The type of silicon that has been best avoided by gamers for years, but has gradually improved to the point that it is now really decent. Rumors say that Gracemont, which is the version of Atom used at Alder Lake, is now on par with Skylake’s performance, which, if true, means Alder Lake could be a powerful force to be reckoned with. Indeed, the first reference leaks from Alder Lake have very impressive performances.

Alder Lake also incorporates many next-generation technologies into its design, including support for PCI Express 5.0 and DDR5 RAM. With so many changes, it’s no surprise that Alder Lake uses a new LGA 1700 socket and is supported by a new family of chipsets, led by the high-end Z690 chipset. The important point is that you will not be able to insert Alder Lake into the current Z490 and Z590 motherboards, you will have to start over here.

Release date

Greg Bryant presented Alder Lake on Windows at CES 2021. (Image credit: Intel)

Intel Alder Lake release date

For a very long time, Intel has said that Alder Lake will be released in the second half of 2021, but won’t be pushed on anything more specific than that. Intel even showcased Alder Lake at CES 2021, in January 2021, and there have been numerous leaks of specific versions of the chip since.

We finally have an official date, as the 12th Gen Intel Alder Lake processors will launch on November 4, 2021.

This information was made public at the Intel InnovatiON event on October 27, something that was rumored to have been the likely location of the official announcement for months now.

A total of six Alder Lake chips will be available on November 4: the Core i9 12900K, Core i9 12900KF, Core i7 12700K, Core i7 12700KF, Core i5 12600K and Core i5 12600KF. Where the K denotes an unlocked chip and the F means there are no integrated graphics and therefore should be a bit more affordable.

However, there were plenty of leaks before this official date, with qualifying samples of the Core i9 12900K sold in China and impressive benchmarks appearing months before the official release date.

There are a lot of new ideas being broadcast in these new chips, which equates to a lot of things that could have gone wrong along the way. First, there’s the whole thorny topic of getting the two different types of cores to work efficiently, with a fair amount of Windows Planner magic needed as well.

Intel worked with Microsoft to roll out a major scheduler update in Windows 11 that makes the most of Intel’s new hybrid design. Called Thread Director, it actively works with the Alder Lake processor to ensure the right cores are handling the right loads.

Alder Lake is also Intel’s first desktop processor to use its problematic 10nm production process, which has now been renamed to Intel 7 production process. It will be interesting to see if all goes well in terms of efficiency. and clock speed. Only time will tell on this front.

Characteristics

(Image credit: Intel)

Intel Alder Lake specifications

We now have the official specifications from Intel Alder Lake, at least for the six chips it launches the processor family with. More chips are expected down the line, with varying number of cores and clock speeds, but for us gamers the launch lineup is pretty interesting anyway.

Take a look at the table below and you can start to rethink the way you look at processor specs. No more simple doubling of cores to obtain the number of threads. There is also no TDP, as it has been replaced by base power and maximum turbo power. There are also separate base and turbo frequencies for the P and E cores. That’s all a change.

12th Generation Intel Alder Lake K-Series Processor Family
Core i9 12900K and Core i9 12900K12900KF Core i7 12700K and Core i7 12700KF Core i5 12600K and Core i5 12600KF
Cores (P + T) 8 + 8 8 + 4 6 + 4
Son 24 20 16
L3 Cache (Smart Cache) 30 MB 25 MB 20 MB
L2 cache 14 MB 12 MB 9.5 MB
Max P-core Turbo frequency (GHz) 5.2 5 4.9
Max E-core Turbo frequency (GHz) 3.9 3.8 3.6
P-core base frequency 3.2 3.6 3.7
E-core base frequency 2.4 2.7 2.8
Unblocked Yes Yes Yes
PCIe lanes available 20 20 20
Memory support (up to) DDR5 4800MT / s, DDR4 3200MT / s DDR5 4800MT / s, DDR4 3200MT / s DDR5 4800MT / s, DDR4 3200MT / s
Base processor power (W) 125 125 125
Maximum turbo power (W) 241 190 150
Availablity November 4 November 4 November 4

Alder Lake’s hybrid design means that each chip has a number of traditional Golden Cove cores and a number of Gracemont Atom cores. Note that Golden Cove supports Intel’s hyperthreading to double the number of threads these cores can handle, but Gracemont does not. This is why you will see specs for chips such as 8P + 8E cores but only 24 threads.

An early leak of Intel’s Alder Lake mobile plans showcases an interesting range of setups here, with between one and eight Golden Cove cores running alongside four or eight Gracemont cores. Intel needs to cover some low-power options on mobile, up to 5W processors, which are not of great interest to gamers, but it suggests that Alder Lake may well evolve.

Intel has also equipped Alder Lake with serious next-generation technology, with PCIe 5.0 and DDR5. There are 16 PCIe 5.0 lanes and 4 PCIe 4.0 lanes as standard, which should give plenty of bandwidth for storage and graphics cards.

DDR5 also seems to have some cool platform tricks up its sleeve, with XMP3.0 support having the potential to help you get the most out of your memory without having to spend hours rebooting first. Maybe we’re just bullish on that front, but that’s potentially great news.

Performance

(Image credit: Intel)

Intel Alder Lake performance

So what are we talking about in terms of performance? It’s hard to say until we have Alder Lake on our test bed (and we can talk about it.) But there are a few mouthwatering snippets that could point to some good things.

There was an early leak of the Cinebench R20 benchmark that put the Core i9 12900K qualifying sample in a very healthy place, 22% faster than AMD’s impressive Ryzen 9 5950X. This is of course only a reference, and until the chips are actually released you need to take this with a pinch of salt. Still, it’s hard not to be impressed with the potential there.

Rumors speak of a 20% improvement in IPC performance for Golden Cove cores compared to current Rocket Lake chips. That’s not bad, as Rocket Lake offers a 19% boost over the previous generation of Comet Lake to start with. As for the Gracemonet cores, rumors say they’re on par with Skylake. Together, there is potential for a processor family that can beat AMD’s Zen 3 family. Frequencies really matter here though.

Switching to the Intel 7 production process should also have a noticeable impact on performance. A smaller process usually equates to a more efficient or faster processor. A combination of the two is the dream here though. And given that Intel has been stuck on different iterations of its 14nm node for so long, hopefully it has some pent-up frustration up its sleeve that it will vent on the front of the clock.

An interesting take on the hybrid design is that the more energy efficient Gracemont cores could allow Golden Cove cores to run faster. The idea is that Atom cores produce less heat for the same workloads, thus making it easier to heat envelope those large cores. It remains to be seen how this will work for gaming, although Intel is already claiming the faster gaming processor for the Core i9 12900K. We have to verify it ourselves, but Intel is clearly bullish.

Price

(Image credit: INtel)

Intel Alder Lake Award

Intel is pretty consistent when it comes to chip pricing, but given that it’s a completely different type of processor with a completely different base configuration, drawing parallels with its existing lineup isn’t so easy. For example, the current high-end chip, the Core i9 11900K, has only eight cores and 16 threads, while the first Alder Lake, the Core i9 12900K, has 16 cores and 24 threads. A very different proposition, even if all these cores are not directly comparable.

Intel’s goal here is to make the new architecture an attractive proposition, so you don’t expect the price to go up too much. All we’ve had so far is prices will start from $ 264 and go all the way up to $ 589. How that actually translates to the end user in these silicon-hungry times is anyone’s guess, but it doesn’t look like Intel has any nasty surprises up its sleeve.

Pricing will be much clearer when Intel starts confirming full stack specs. And once he starts talking about that, we’ll have a much clearer idea of ​​when Alder Lake arrives as well.


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