Respected Linux patch detective Coelacanth’s Dream has penned a new blog post decoding the latest Intel patches, giving us some insight into unreleased information about the upcoming Alder Lake-P laptop processors. The information indicates some of Intel’s Alder Lake CPUs could have a configurable TDP as high as 115W, making Alder Lake the most power-hungry Intel chips ever produced for the laptop market.
The post reveals three core configurations for Alder Lake-P, consisting of a 2+8+2, 4+8+2, and a 6+8+2 configuration. This is a result of Alder Lake using bigger and smaller cores in its architecture, meaning 'big' high-performance cores, and 'small' Atom cores for better efficiency. The first number belongs to the bigger (performance) cores, while the second number is the smaller (power saver) cores. The last number is the integrated graphics.
Each core configuration scales with higher TDPs; the chip with two high-performance cores operates at a max of 55W for the PL2 turbo rating. The quad-core operates at up to 64W, and the hexacore operates at a peak of up to 115W.
While this number may sound insane for a notebook, even for some of the largest notebooks on the market, TDP is a very different animal than it used to be. Intel allows OEMs to adjust the TDPs of its chips significantly, so the CPU is geared more toward the notebook’s design, rather than static TDPs which were once popular.
Intel has also introduced two levels of Turbo Boost behavior to help optimize efficiency in both notebook and desktop form factors. These levels are known as PL1 and PL2 states. PL2 is the most aggressive turbo clock available and is designed to go way beyond the CPU's base power consumption for a short amount of time. This is why Intel's mobile chips in general have seen higher TDP numbers over the past few years, making them look more power-hungry than they actually are.
Even for notebooks that are equipped with a high core count Alder Lake chip that boosts up to 115W, it's doubtful it will boost that high for any long duration of time. And don’t expect many notebooks to be configured with that high of a TDP.