Without question, one of the big events PC gamers the world over are looking forward to this year is the launch of Intel’s 12th generation processors, which the company has codenamed “Alder Lake”.
What’s innovate about the Alder Lake line-up is that it features an asymmetrical architecture, that is, the processor combines “big” and “little” cores to deliver performance levels hitherto unseen from Intel.
And as was recently reported on NotebookCheck.net, a big leak might have revealed Intel’s Alder Lake processor line-up and more. YouTube channel Moore’s Law Is Dead has seemingly spilled the juicy details, including some details about what Intel has in store beyond Alder Lake too.
As expected, the company will once again be splitting the line-up into i5, i7 and i9 tiers, with the “K” variants of each processor being of the most interest to serious PC gamers, of course. This is because the K processors can be overclocked, squeezing yet more performance out of them.
According to the leak, Intel’s top-end i9 will sport a total of 16 cores, 8 big and 8 little.
The big cores (codenamed “Golden Cove” by Intel) support multithreading and handle the brunt of processing, while the little ones (which Intel calls “Gracemont cores”) are energy efficient. Four of these take up the space of a big core in the processor die, something which should lead to energy savings as well as increased performance.
Actually, a leaked Intel slide claimed a twofold improvement in multithreaded performance thanks to the extra cores, but it remains to be seen how the Alder Lake i9 K processor (the i9-12900K?) compares to the current, 11th gen Intel Core i9-11900K, as well as AMD’s top of the line Ryzen 9 5950X.
Regarding the other Alder Lake processors, the K variant of the i7 will feature 8 big cores and 4 little, while the Core i5-12600K (if that’s what Intel ends up calling the K variant of its i5 Alder Lake processor) will come with 6 big and 4 little cores.
Despite the use of the word “little” to describe the Gracemont cores, though, this doesn’t mean they are just there for show. These are comparable to Intel’s Skylake cores in terms of performance, but will run at lower clock speeds, and will feature an improved instruction set.
Some of the desktop processors will forego the little cores entirely, and will only feature the big cores in the package, though. This is the case of the A-series i5 (the non-K, or non-overclockable version), which will ship with 6 big cores according to the leak, and some of the i3 models will only feature 4 cores of the “Golden Cove” variety (that is, the big cores).
And although this seems to forego one of the big advantages of Alder Lake (the big increase in multithreaded performance), these processors should still benefit from the improvement in single core performance of Intel’s 12th gen architecture, which is rumored to be about 20 %.
The situation is different regarding the 12th gen, Alder Lake mobile processors, though, as these will ship with more little cores than big cores. They will also have a TDP of between 12 to 45 W, and integrated Xe graphics. The 45 W part will boast 6 big cores and 8 little ones, which is nothing to scoff at, and with the Xe integrated graphics it should be capable of delivering a pretty decent gaming experience.
Of course, Intel hasn’t forgotten mobile gamers with Alder Lake, and according to this leak will be delivering a processor for laptops with 8 big and 8 little cores, but one which will obviously consume more power (65 W).
Regarding the future, Alder Lake’s successor Raptor Lake is expected to land in late 2022 with modest but still noticeable performance gains, meaning that those looking to upgrade might want to wait and see how Alder Lake turns out before taking the plunge.
Also, Raptor Lake will up the number of “little” cores in the top-end processor up to 16, keeping the big cores at 8. This is something that makes sense taking into account how the new-gen consoles (PS5 and Xbox Series X) are 8-core machines, so Intel is not in a hurry to increase the number of “Golden Cove” cores in the processor so soon, letting users enjoy the boost of having more little cores to carry extra tasks in their machines.
Alder Lake also brings DDR5 memory support, but Raptor Lake will take this further in 2022 offering support for higher frequency memory (5600 MHz and beyond).
And while Raptor Lake will be going up against AMD’s Zen 4 processor architecture (codenamed “Raphael”), future generations of Intel processors will have to square against Zen 5 and Zen 6, something which apparently has Intel concerned, as does the launch of a next-gen M processor by Apple with 40 cores (32 big and 8 little).
This is why Intel will be increasing core count on its next-gen CPUs, with the Meteor Lake family arriving in 2023 and Lunar Lake later on, both boasting big performance gains and more core than you can shake a stick at…
For the time being, though, it’s Alder Lake that will be on PC gamers’ sights, so here’s hoping that Intel can get things right and deliver a processor family that will get people excited once again on October 25, which is the date when the Santa Clara company will presumably be launching the first batch of Alder Lake desktop processors this year.
Tiger Lake 11th gen (Intel Corporation)