AIDA64 Hints Intel's Return To HEDT Market With Alder Lake-X

Intel Core X-Series Processor
(Image credit: Intel)

Patch notes for a new beta version of AIDA64 -- version 6.60.5944 (opens in new tab), 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.

Aaron Klotz
Freelance News Writer

Aaron Klotz is a freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US, covering news topics related to computer hardware such as CPUs, and graphics cards.

  • hotaru251
    honestly would welcome it back (as competition keeps prices lower) but....12900k already has thermal issues & there are still cases where e cores don't play nice still (so potential issue at least in some cases)
    Reply
  • JayNor
    Didn't the Alder Lake workstation W680 leaks already imply an Alder Lake with ECC memory support?
    Reply
  • TechyInAZ
    JayNor said:
    Didn't the Alder Lake workstation W680 leaks already imply an Alder Lake with ECC memory support?

    W680 applies only to mainstream Alder Lake, not a HEDT option. HEDT and mainstream have always had workstation versions...
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    hotaru251 said:
    honestly would welcome it back (as competition keeps prices lower) but....12900k already has thermal issues & there are still cases where e cores don't play nice still (so potential issue at least in some cases)
    Would have to think the X version will do away with the e cores, which would also allow Intel to bring back AVX 512. Previous gen Cascade Lake X has a 165TDP and overclocking could send power usage into the stratosphere. Threadripper TDP tops out a 280W. HEDT is accustomed to high power usage.
    Reply
  • JayNor
    Intel will add 8 more E-cores on Raptor Lake while remaining on the same Intel-7 process used on Alder Lake, so I presume they could create a 24 core Alder Lake HEDT. Or maybe drop to 6 P cores and add 16 E-cores.

    I haven't seen much about a SPR-X/Fishhawk Falls HEDT/workstation since the initial rumors.
    Reply
  • jp7189
    On one hand, it would be nice to see a P core only HEDT version of Alder Lake with AVX512. On the other hand, desktop ADL can use 300+ watts with only 8 P cores enabled. I would guess higher count counts with AVX512 would require MUCH lower clock speeds to make it practical, and I'm not sure how competitive that would end up being.
    Reply