Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Leaked: Big changes coming with Intel’s next CPU, code-named Alder Lake

Even though Intel just announced its Rocket Lake-S desktop processor, eyes are already turning to what Intel has next up its sleeve: the next-generation CPU code-named Alder Lake, expected before the end of 2021. The latest Alder Lake leaks, provided by Videocardz, suggest that Alder Lake will represent a sharp break from existing Intel designs, for better or worse.

Last year, Intel confirmed that Alder Lake existed, and that it would ship in 2021. Originally, however, Alder Lake didn’t seem like that big of a deal. It’s built upon the same mixed-core design as Lakefield, which shipped in 2020 as the 9-watt Intel Core processor with Intel Hybrid Technology, inside the Samsung Galaxy Book S. Reviews called the Galaxy Book S performance anemic, and more of the same was expected from Alder Lake. 

Now it looks like Alder Lake may be more interesting than we thought. Let’s look at the highlights of those leaks.

Substantially more performance

Over the weekend, VideoCardz said it had obtained a leaked Alder Lake presentation, which promises that Alder Lake will offer 20 percent more performance in single-threaded applications, and more than double the performance in multi-threaded workloads. In part, that’s because Alder Lake will be manufactured on a 10nm manufacturing node, Intel’s most advanced.


The leaked presentation offers insufficient context for interpreting the performance claims. Videocardz suggested that Intel could be comparing Alder Lake against Rocket Lake, or Intel’s 11th-gen Tiger Lake parts. However, Intel could conceivably be comparing Alder Lake to the anemic Lakefield—in which case, the bar is set much lower. 

Intel itself has indicated that Alder Lake is being designed with performance in mind. “We are advancing our hybrid architecture significantly with a focus on performance,” Raja Koduri, senior vice president, chief architect, and general manager of Architecture, Graphics, and Software said in August at Alder Lake’s official tip-off at the Intel Architecture Day. 

Koduri said then that Alder Lake will combine an unknown number of performance-oriented Golden Cove CPU cores (similar to Lakefield’s Sunny Cove), with an equally unknown number of low-power Gracemont CPU cores (successor to Lakefield’s Tremont cores), with more emphasis on performance. If the VideoCardz presentation is accurate, Alder Lake will have eight of each.

The presentation also shows Alder Lake with Intel’s XeLP GPU inside, which Intel also talked about last year.

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