Millions of PC gamers are surely looking forward to the launch of Intel’s Alder Lake processors later this year.
These could be arriving as soon as September, and will boast an entirely new architecture, one which Intel hopes can help it win its war against bitter rival AMD.
You see, while Intel had a commanding lead in performance for most of the last decade, AMD began to catch up when its Ryzen processors debuted in March 2017, and even managed to take the lead with its 3rd generation Ryzen processors (Zen 3) in late 2019. Right now, AMD’s Ryzen 9 5950X, a 16-core monster, is the best overall gaming processor money can buy.
The situation could be reversed later this year when Intel releases its Alder Lake processor line, with a novel architecture boasting both “small” and “big” cores in the same package, similar to what Apple is offering with its new M1 processors.
And leaked specs for an engineering sample of an Alder Lake processor are already looking good. The specs for a processor named “Intel Core-1800” have emerged online, as was recently reported on PCGamesN. Enthusiast website Igor Labs has gotten hold of this engineering sample, which sports 16 cores, and can handle 24 computing threads.
Of course, if this were an ordinary Intel CPU it could be able to handle 32 threads, but since this processor has 8 Golden Cove cores (the name Intel gives to its high-performance cores) capable of multithreading, and 8 small or Gracemont cores (how Intel is calling the power-efficient cores in the Alder Lake chips) which can only handle one thread at a time, it all adds up to 24 threads of computing power.
This should still be plenty enough to power the latest games, especially when taking into account that this chip’s maximum power consumption is “only” 228 Watts. This compares favorably with the current top of the line chip of Intel’s Rocket Lake range, the Core i9-11900K, which has a max. power rating of 250 Watts.
This means there should be plenty of room for overclocking as PCGamesN points out, always a good thing when putting together a powerful gaming PC (or buying a prebuilt one, that is).
Slightly disappointing, though, is the chip’s base clock speed, which is only 1.8 GHz. This is to be expected, taking into account that the leaked specs being discussed belong to an engineering sample.
For example, the recently released Intel Core i5-11400 has a base clock of 2.6 GHz, and this is a mid-range processor, while this Intel Core-1800 engineering sample is obviously a high-end Alder Lake model. This Alder Lake chip does seem to boost to 4.6 GHz, which is more in line with expectations though.
So maybe Intel will once again become the undisputed gaming and performance champion when the new Alder Lake processors hit shelves later this year, even if the performance gains might not end up being as impressive as people are expecting. A 20 % gain in single threaded performance, and a doubling of multicore performance in some situations is something that has been talked about.
Recent posts on South Korean tech forums have contradicted this, claiming Alder Lake could be up to 40 % slower than rumored. But still, all the claims about Alder Lake’s performance are largely unsubstantiated, and until the final chips are in the wild and people get down and dirty with benchmarking, we won’t be able to make any judgments.
Nonetheless, it’s clear that Intel has a great opportunity here to become the performance leader once again and the preferred choice of gamers worldwide with Alder Lake, especially taking into account that AMD might have abandoned plans to release an upgraded version of its current line of processors (Zen 3) and will instead focus its energy on getting the next generation of Ryzen processors (based on the Zen 4 microarchitecture) out of the door in late 2022.
This means Intel will be first to the party when it comes to technologies like DDR5 memory and PCI Express 5.0 (which Alder Lake will support) giving it a good head start over its rival. So it would be a great thing for Intel and technology fans and PC gamers worldwide if Alder Lake processors turn out to be as impressive as everyone is hoping they will be when they come out later this year.
Tiger Lake 11th gen (Intel Corporation)