At today’s Intel Innovation event, the chipmaker revealed almost all the relevant information that consumers need to evaluate the technology presented in Intel’s 12th generation CPU code name design Alder Lake.
Intel previously revealed some architectural and technical details during Intel Architecture Day 2021 in August. We now get commercial information, including CPU line and pricing.
This article will present essential aspects of Intel’s Alder Lake architecture and how it improves next-generation computers. Not surprisingly, most have to do with PC performance, and Intel is advancing in many directions to ensure PC systems are balanced.
Intel’s new CPUs are built on a 10nm enhanced SuperFin semiconductor process, known as “Intel 7”. For the first time, the company is using a hybrid core approach with high-performance and high-efficiency cores, such as smartphones. Intel calls this “a hybrid performance architecture, which combines P-cores and E-cores.” P and E denote performance and efficiency.
Like ARM’s big.LITTLE, this strategy is better because simple tasks (= threads) can be sent to more energy-efficient E-cores, while heavy computing tasks descend into P-cores optimized for performance. Each computer runs tens or hundreds of threads at any one time, so this is a proven way to improve overall power consumption and absolute performance at the same time.
At the lowest level, the architecture of each core has been optimized and improved just as Intel is doing for each new core design. And as usual, memory cache buffers can get bigger and faster. To orchestrate how tasks (threads) are distributed, Intel created Intel Thread Director on which the operating system will rely on the best dispatch workloads.
Intel claims a 19% performance increase from new P-cores and that a global increase in the total number of cores will also increase multi-threaded performance. Overall, these estimates are compelling because they make complete sense.
Intel says in some cases the task could be accomplished 50% faster for a given power level or at one quarter strength compared to 11th generation of Core processors. The difference in efficiency makes the new CPUs more adaptable to each use case (speed versus battery life) and represents a huge leap for Intel.
For difficult jobs such as content creation (video editing, 3d modeling, etc.), Intel estimates performance increase of 22% -37%, with a peak of up to 100% in the Adobe After Effects Pulse Benchmark.
Intel’s presentations show a significant increase in average performance compared to the Gen11, of course, but more importantly, compared to the AMD Ryzen 5950X CPU.
Introducing DDR5 memory
CPU cores must be fed by the increasing flow of data coming from RAM. Introduces the Alder Lake platform DDR5 memory it’s significantly faster than the previous DDR4, adding about 1.87X bandwidth, from 16.8GB / s to 31.4GB / s (in theory).
For overclockers, Intel adds Intel XMP 3.0, a technology that makes it easier and more convenient to add multiple profiles with easily recognizable names. I am more interested in Dynamic Memory Boost technology that automatically switches from default JEDEC RAM speeds to one of the XMP profiles, depending on the load.
DDR5 is also more efficient, but most people tend to focus on maximum bandwidth and this is a good metric to use. If you’re interested in DDR5, check out this handy video from Crucial as they illustrate it well.
I / O, chipset and peripherals
PCIe 5.0 support is now available on and off the processor Intel Z690 chipset level. This chipset can handle a lot of I / O, including a ton of USB ports, WiFi 6E. 2.5G Ethernet caught my attention, but there is also 10/100/1000 Ethernet.
PCIe 5.0 will take SSD speeds to new levels, with early numbers indicating that sequential readings reach 14,000 MB / s and 7,000 MB / s for sequential typing. Even the latency should be noticeably lower than current SSDs, and IOPS should also nearly double, making each individual operation potentially much faster.
Such an increase in performance is fascinating because technologies such as Microsoft’s DirectStorage can make better use of the I / O potential of PCIe 5.0 and the upcoming PCIe 5.0 SSD. We will see.
SKUs and prices
At this point, Intel has announced several processors for each of the i3, i5 and i9 families for a total of 6 SKUs. Prices range from $ 264 (i5-12600KF) to $ 589 (i9-12900K), but given the new architecture and performance profile of these chips, I’d rather wait for real-world performance figures before commenting on their value.
Complete specifications, models and pricing table can be found in this official Intel Product Report on page 6 (PDF link).
Intel 12th the CPU generation shakes things up and could once again cause excitement in the processor market. We will be launching CPU benchmarks and will report back soon. In the meantime, you can check out today’s event here.
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