Everything to know about the first 10nm desktop chip

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2021-05-19 05:29:48

After many delays and failures in the 10nm chip design, Intel finally launched its Ice Lake mobile processors in late 2019. Intel confirmed at CES earlier this year that Alder Lake would be coming. in late 2021 with the enhanced 10nm SuperFin process.

Although 10nm will soon be available on both desktops and mobile devices, Intel is still behind rival AMD, which pushed hard to 7nm in 2019. However, there is still a lot to enjoy about Alder Lake. , especially on the desktop, as the platform ushers in a new architecture focused on efficiency and performance.

With up to 16 cores, Intel has its eye on AMD’s 16-core mainstream Ryzen CPUs. Little has been announced about the processor platform since Intel’s CES trailer, but here’s everything we know about Intel’s 12th-generation Alder Lake processors so far.

Pricing and Availability

Intel has announced that the 12th generation Alder Lake is expected to launch in late 2021. Alder Lake could be announced as early as September, although more recent leaks suggest the generation platform Intel’s 12th could launch in November in time for the holiday shopping season.

In late 2019, Intel announced 10th Gen Comet Lake-S for desktops ahead of the first half of 2020. Comet Lake-S is based on Intel’s 14nm++ process, representing the second optimization. 5 of the company for this architecture.

Next, Intel is expected to move to the 11th generation Rocket Lake on the desktop, based on the 14nm design.

Despite numerous leaks in recent months about Intel’s silicon plans, the company hasn’t released any official details about its future plans as commented by the EE Times.

At this point, Alder Lake’s pricing information remains a mystery. However, given recent rumors that the Intel Core i5-10500 processor is expected to retail for around $285. Expect the mid-range Alder Lake generation to be similarly priced.

AMD’s high-end Ryzen 9 3950X desktop processor with 16 cores and 32 threads currently retails for $738. It is expected that the high-end 16-core Intel Alder Lake will be priced to compete with AMD’s high-end processors.

Architectural Design

Intel’s Alder Lake will be based on the 10nm process, which the company is calling 10nm SuperFin. The process, Intel claims, offers faster transistors and improved MIM capacitors in the design, which it describes as a “breakthrough in the x86 architecture”.

Intel has confirmed previous leaks and rumors reported by Twitter user @momo_US and published on Chinese e-commerce site PTT suggesting it will move to a hybrid architecture.

During the keynote, Intel executives announced the hybrid design, similar to what Arm did with silicon for smartphones and tablets, would also make its way to the desktop for the first time. . This means that Alder Lake will come with efficient cores to handle background and low-level tasks and high-power cores that will work when applications need more performance.

For efficiency cores, Intel will rely on the Gracemont design, while the new Golden Cove cores will boost performance.

Intel is expected to combine eight Gracemont cores with eight Golden Cove cores in its high-end Alder Lake processor design for a total of 16 desktop cores, although other configurations will also be available. . This makes it difficult to compare Intel’s hybrid 16-core CPU with AMD’s homogenous architecture with the same core count, although the change to a hybrid design will help Intel stay competitive with a wide range of microprocessors. new ARM-based processors, such as Apple’s M1 and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon PC Processor.

Based on Intel’s leaked slide show, changing the architecture of Alder Lake should deliver up to 20% improvement in single-threaded performance, thanks to Golden Cove cores and enhanced 10nm SuperFin design, and copper. Up to 2x faster multithreading performance with Gracemont cores.

As for its heterogeneous architecture, early leaks suggest that Intel could combine anywhere between 1 to 8 Golden Cove cores with 4 to 8 Gracemont cores on mobile devices. This shows that Alder Lake can scale well and power consumption is only 5W on mobile devices. Therefore, the battery life of the laptop will be more. This is an important feature needed to compete with Apple’s M1 silicon in the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.

Alder Lake on laptops is expected to succeed Tiger Lake in Intel’s lineup, and the mobile variant is expected to be branded as Alder Lake-S.

At the desktop, according to leaked information, Intel will also have a 6-core version of Alder Lake. With this variant, Intel will have all 6 cores based on the larger Golden Cove cores, completely eliminating the smaller Gracemont cores. The “big-core” six-core variant of Alder Lake-S is expected to have a TDP (thermal design power) of 80W, while the 16-core version could go up to 125W, although Videocardz suggested that Intel could Scale the power to 150W for this design.

In a separate Alder Lake-S desktop leak, the chip was shown in a benchmark with 8 cores and 16 threads. This means that this configuration will not come with Gracemont cores, Intel’s high-performance cores that lack Hyper-Threading support. The processor was shown with a clock speed of 3GHz in a benchmark, although an earlier benchmark showed it to have a frequency of 4GHz.

Alder Lake will be based on Intel’s integrated GT1 graphics. Intel has invested heavily in its integrated graphics, and Gen 11 graphics will deliver casual gaming performance to its Ice Lake laptops. Hopefully the same performance jumps apply to the desktop as well.

Other changes to Alder Lake include support for PCIe Gen 5 and PCIe Gen 4 as well as DDR5 and DDR4 memory. Thunderbolt 4 and WiFi 6E Gig+ will also be supported on Alder Lake.


Compared to current Rocket Lake processors, the 20% IPC increase with Alder Lake can be seen due to the new Golden Cove cores. Rocket Lake already offers a 19% IPC boost over the previous-generation Comet Lake design, which should help Intel deliver consistent benefits for those looking to upgrade.

Intel has talked about the 10nm process, heterogeneous architecture, and faster memory support that will help drive these gains, but there are still a lot of unknowns about Alder Lake at this point. The company hasn’t revealed any details on clock speeds, and it doesn’t know how clock speeds across different core types will affect the overall performance of the CPU on a number of tasks, including CPU power. productivity, video and gaming performance.

Initially, there were speculations that the 12th generation Alder Lake platform might not be tuned for gaming, as the chipset uses a mixed core architecture, compared to the 11th generation Rocket Lake. , a recent Dota 2 benchmark pulled from an early technical sample of Alder Lake proved not to be the case, and despite initial speculations, the platform is well-adapted to gaming.

Alder Lake peaked at an impressive 549 fps in-game when paired with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card, with an average frame rate of 120 fps.

An early benchmark taken from the 16-core Alder Lake-S engineering sample shows that Intel’s hybrid architecture is a capable engine. According to Videocardz, the 12th generation CPU with 16 cores and 24 threads performed better than Intel’s Core i9-9900K on Geekbench 4.4. Because the chipset is an early sample, the benchmarking utility cannot accurately measure the clock speed. Here, the base speed is known to be 2.19GHz, and it’s likely that the 27.2GHz boost speed is a bug. The source speculates that the actual boost speed will be between 2.7 and 3.4 GHz.

According to Hardware Times, a similarly configured 12th generation CPU was also recently discovered in the Ashes Escalation Benchmark database. The clock speed is listed as 2.2GHz.

While the heterogeneous architecture will benefit laptop power savings, power efficiency will also be a highlight of Alder Lake’s desktop design. Intel is said to be pushing the new, more power-efficient ATX12VO standard to launch alongside Alder Lake later this year.

According to VideoCardz, the standards, which require a new motherboard with a 10-pin power connector and compatible power supply, are supposed to boost the energy efficiency of desktop power supply units.

The 10-pin connector would replace the current 24-pin connector on today’s motherboards, and manufacturers were hesitant to make the change because it would require a DC-to-DC converter on the board itself. . Intel’s push could help drive adoption and give Alder Lake the high performance-per-watt mark to compete with AMD’s upcoming Ryzen processors said to be based on the Zen architecture. 4.

Intel is in talks with partners to start migrating to the new ATX12VO. The ATX12VO will have less impact on power consumption when the PC is running under heavier loads. According to PC Gamer, because manufacturers need to wait 4 to 5 months, Alder Lake could launch as early as September.

According to VideoCardz, low-end motherboards and pre-built systems will likely take advantage of the ATX12VO, while high-end gaming rigs and motherboards designed for workstation use may retain the top of the line. connect the existing 24-pin power supply.

One stop to 7nm

It’s interesting that Intel is bringing this hybrid architecture to the desktop. On mobile, the company launched its big.LITTLE approach on Lakefield, featuring 4 Atom Tremont cores and 1 Sunny Cove core. It is speculated that Intel’s motive for bringing this hybrid design to the desktop, where power efficiency isn’t such a big constraint, is to help close the gap until they’re ready to roll. a 7nm desktop CPU.

According to a report from Tom’s Hardware, the big.LITTLE hybrid design can also be a last-minute decision. It has been reported that the company initially did not want to commit to using all 16 cores on the 10nm design and that having 8 large cores and 8 small cores could be a compromise on design while still allowing Intel to match. with 16 cores on AMD’s mainstream Ryzen processors.

Like AMD, Intel has also confirmed they will move to the 5nm process in the future for better performance and power efficiency.

New socket

New socket

With Alder Lake, Intel is moving to a new socket design. Alder Lake-S is expected to open up the new LGA 1700 socket, supporting DDR5 and DDR4 memory along with PCIe Gen 5. Some Asus boards supporting LGA 1700 socket and Intel Z690 chipset have already appeared on HWiNFO . Regarding RAM, you will not be able to mix DDR4 and DDR5 modules together on the same board.

The new socket means that users upgrading to this chip will need a new board. Unlike rival AMD, which has maintained socket consistency between successive generations of chipsets, Intel will switch from socket LGA 1200 for its 10th Gen Comet Lake-S CPUs.

If Intel continues to change socket design so quickly, it could limit the appeal of the processor to high-end desktop users, gamers, and PC tinkerers, who People who want versatility just need to upgrade their silicon.

It’s also unclear if Intel had a chance to address the latest security vulnerabilities by the time Alder Lake launched. A security researcher has discovered a vulnerability in Intel’s Converged Security and Management Engine that could potentially affect all Intel chips released within 5 years. by. WOMEN

Security researcher Mark Ermolov said that attackers can exploit the vulnerability to decrypt confidential files if they gain access to a lost or stolen laptop.


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