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Alder Lake's Big Cores Wallow at 3 GHz in New Benchmark

Stock Processor Image
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

There has been a good number of Alder Lake benchmarks that have popped up on the radar. Yesterday's Geekbench 5 submission (via Benchleaks), however, gives us a first peek into the hybrid processor's big cores.

Alder Lake-S will go down in Intel's history as the first hybrid x86 desktop processor, and from how it looks so far, it may be one of the most confusing processor launches. Alder Lake-S brings together a mixture of 'Big' Golden Cove and 'Small' Gracemont cores. As you would imagine, that gives life to numerous potential configurations. As of this moment, we've learned from a Linux driver update that Alder Lake-S could arrive in up to 12 different flavors, assuming that Intel doesn't have more tricks up its sleeve.

The latest Alder Lake-S sample lacks a name, but given the details that we already know about Intel's hybrid chips, we don't doubt its veracity. The processor under test was operating from a motherboard or test platform based on the upcoming LGA1700 socket. Alder Lake-S is pegged to support both DDR4 and DDR5 memory. Although the submission itself doesn't specify the type of memory, the detailed report revealed the memory running with timings configured to 36-34-34-63. Given the really sloppy timings, the processor was very likely paired with DDR5 memory.

Intel Alder-Lake-S CPU (Image credit: Primate Labs Inc.)

The Alder Lake processor features eight cores and 16 threads, implying that it's rolling with only the 'Big' Golden Cove cores since the Gracemont cores lack Huper-Threading support. The processor appears to feature a 3 GHz base and boost clock, but it may be an early engineering sample. Nonetheless, a previous Alder Lake-S chip emerged with a 4 GHz boost clock. However, it was the 16-core model, alluding to the eight Golden Cove cores and eight Gracemont cores. Will Intel clock the Golden Core-exclusive SKUs higher than the hybrid SKUs, or vice versa? It's still uncertain how Alder Lake-S will play out.

Unfortunately, the Geekbench 5 submission doesn't provide us with any meaningful insight into the Alder Lake-S chip's performance, so it's unclear how it will stack up in our CPU Benchmarks hierarchy. The OpenCL benchmark only taxes the graphics card, which in this case was a GeForce RTX 2080. So, we can't really pass judgment on the Alder Lake-S processor's gaming performance or whether it bottlenecks the Turing-based graphics card or not.

Alder Lake, which is based on Intel's 10nm Enhanced SuperFin process, will enter mass production in the second half of this year. Not surprisingly, the processors will command fresh LGA1700 motherboards with the 600-series chipset and, of course, DDR5 memory. Upgrading to the new platform certainly won't be easy on the pockets, and pricing will be the ultimate determinant on whether or not Alder Lake makes an appearance on our list of Best CPUs for gaming

  • digitalgriffin
    Still likely early engineering samples. But one of the problems with 3D stacking is heat dissipation. If Alder lake can't hit at least 4.5 with all cores, there's going to be serious issues against Zen 4.

    As I said earlier, I think Alder Lake is mainly destined for laptops where power efficiency is hugely important when unplugged. It might be a closer game with AMD U series when plugged in.
    Reply
  • Giroro
    I still maintain Alder Lake big/little is an absolutely abysmally bad idea for desktops. Best case, it's just going to be used as a deceptive marketing ploy to trick people into buying underperforming junk at inflated prices. Also it makes it a lot harder to accurately inform customers, which is really annoying. Is obvious their plan is basically to glue a netbook to an i3, then sell it at HEDT or at least 5950x prices. Even if all they do is scale it back to glue a smartphone to a Pentium and call it an i5, that's still a step backwards.

    It might end up being the second worst idea Intel has had for desktop processors.
    Reply
  • brianhojensorensen
    Giroro said:
    I still maintain Alder Lake big/little is an absolutely abysmally bad idea for desktops.
    ....
    It might end up being the second worst idea Intel has had for desktop processors.

    Not so sure, at least for some use cases. I think it might be quite nice for my work pc. I'm doing quite a bit software development and system maintenance, and I often end up with 10+ terminals (yes it's on Linux), and a couple of browsers (for testing) with 10-20 tabs in each, where some of them are actually using some resources. Besides that I do also run some applications and scripts on the system itself, although most will be run on a server. So I do think that the combination of some smaller cores for background tasks combined with some bigger ones for the tasks that require a bit of muscle, could do very well. But I think it's too soon to tell.
    Reply
  • mdd1963
    "...since the Gracemont cores lack Huper-Threading support. "

    Fascinating! :)
    Reply
  • thGe17
    Giroro said:
    I still maintain Alder Lake big/little is an absolutely abysmally bad idea for desktops. ...
    In general most likely misguided, for example think of the millions of office PCs.
    Secondly irrelevant, becuase according to information available so far, there will be also X+0 versions, therefore nobody forces you to buy a desktop hybrid CPU.

    digitalgriffin said:
    Still likely early engineering samples. But one of the problems with 3D stacking is heat dissipation. If Alder lake can't hit at least 4.5 with all cores, there's going to be serious issues against Zen 4.

    As I said earlier, I think Alder Lake is mainly destined for laptops where power efficiency is hugely important when unplugged. It might be a closer game with AMD U series when plugged in.
    Currently it is unclear if ADL uses 3D Foveros at all. It may still be a planar CPU for desktops and maybe even for mobile chips.
    3D Foveros may be only used for the very small models for the ultra-light market, but currently it is all speculation.
    And no, ADL is destined for the complete consumer platform. It replaces CML and RKL, it replaces TGL and ICL and it also seems as if there will be small Atom-only versions (only Gracemont cores), which might also be labled as ADL, which might be feasible, because Golden Cove-only is ADL, Golden Cove + Gracemont is ADL, then why shouldn't be Gracemont-only not also be ADL?
    Reply
  • mdd1963
    A quick run of Battlefield 5 and Cinebench will tell the proverbial tale....; I personally place more emphasis on the former, but, perfectly understand that lots of people do actual work with their rigs... :)
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    Giroro said:
    I still maintain Alder Lake big/little is an absolutely abysmally bad idea for desktops. Best case, it's just going to be used as a deceptive marketing ploy to trick people into buying underperforming junk at inflated prices.
    How is that supposed to work? People that care about multicore performance don't just buy 'number of cores' ,they look at MT scores and power draw.
    If AL can get those MT scores then how is it going to be deceptive?!

    Accurately informing customers is impossible anyway, if you look at the 5950x that you refer to, if you run all cores they only run at 70% of the single core potential (3.7 instead of 5Ghz) , if AL can have the bigger cores running at full speed even when all the cores including the smaller ones are loaded it will already be better for lots of scenarios.
    https://www.anandtech.com/show/16214/amd-zen-3-ryzen-deep-dive-review-5950x-5900x-5800x-and-5700x-tested/8
    Reply
  • MetaCube
    What a worthless article.
    Reply
  • MarsISwaiting
    thGe17 said:
    In general most likely misguided, for example think of the millions of office PCs.
    Secondly irrelevant, becuase according to information available so far, there will be also X+0 versions, therefore nobody forces you to buy a desktop hybrid CPU.

    Office PCs ? they dont need big/little , just use lower voltage CPU to save energy at office .. and the X+0 version means Alderlake has nothing new to offer lol
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    MarsISwaiting said:
    Office PCs ? they dont need big/little , just use lower voltage CPU to save energy at office .. and the X+0 version means Alderlake has nothing new to offer lol
    The overwhelming reason any enthusiast would want Alder Lake is because of the Golden Cove cores which are estimated to have a 50% IPC uplift vs Sky Lake, which has nothing to do with the hybrid design. That would be twice the IPC gain as going from Sandy Bridge to Sky Lake. There's also DDR5 and PCIE 5. The hybrid aspect of Alder Lake is the least interesting new feature for enthusiasts, not the only relevant one.
    Reply