Patch notes for a new beta version of AIDA64 -- version 6.60.5944, show preliminary support for a mysterious new Intel CPU platform, which carries the Alder Lake-X codename. We don't have an official word on what these new CPUs are, but on the surface, these chips could be new HEDT models of Intel's Alder Lake CPUs, meaning Intel could be returning to the HEDT market after a long hiatus.
In recent years Intel began using the letter X to symbolize its HEDT platform, including the chipset and the CPUs related to the platform. So it's easy to guess that Alder Lake-X will probably be a continuation of that tradition. However, it's been a while since we've seen a HEDT processor from Intel. The last HEDT lineup debuted in 2019 in the form of Intel's 14nm Cascade Lake-X, maxing out at 18 cores.
Intel produces Alder Lake and Sapphire Rapids on the Intel 7 node, formerly known as the 10nm Enhanced SuperFin process. Both processor families leverage Intel's Golden Cove cores, although Sapphire Rapids won't incorporate the Gracemont cores as Alder Lake did. It makes sense since the first targets data centers, whereas the latter aims for the mainstream market.
One theory is that Alder Lake-X could be the enthusiast-friendly version of Intel's Sapphire Rapids platform with an unlocked multiplier for overclocking and other features. However, there were early rumors that Intel may launch Sapphire Rapids-X, and if they're accurate, then Alder Lake-X and Sapphire Rapids-X would need to coexist. Nevertheless, it's not impossible, and we can see it working out for Intel.
For example, Intel could market Alder Lake-X with higher core counts than the consumer Alder Lake chips and maybe kill off the Gracemont cores, which we doubt will be helpful for HEDT enthusiasts. Alder Lake-X reminds us of Kaby Lake-X, which launched alongside Skylake-X. Intel's intention for Kaby Lake-X was to provide entry-level SKUs for its HEDT platform. On the other hand, Intel can sell Sapphire Rapids-X with similar core counts but with octa-channel memory and AVX512 support. Remember that Intel has fused off AVX512 from its Alder Lake chips for good. So, the only way to get AVX512 is through Sapphire Rapids, and Sapphire Rapids-X could be a budget-friendly version for consumers. Of course, all of this is just our estimated guess.
At any rate, Alder Lake-X will have to deal with AMD's latest Ryzen 5000 Threadripper Pro CPUs, spanning up to 64 Zen 3 cores. Unfortunately, AMD hasn't confirmed whether it will launch the non-Pro variants. The Ryzen Threadripper shortage started in the fourth quarter of last year and has been plaguing vendors, putting in doubt whether the regular Ryzen 5000 Threadripper lineup will launch or not.
Hopefully, we'll know more about Alder Lake-X in the future, but it seems Intel is looking into the idea of coming back to the HEDT market. Alder Lake-X will give AMD some other competition, which is always a welcome sight.