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Intel's Alder Lake-S CPU Hits 4 GHz, Flaunting DDR5 Memory

Future CPU stock image Alder Lake-S
(Image credit: Photoshop)

A never-before-seen Alder Lake-S processor sample (via momomo_us) has surfaced with improved specifications and DDR5 support. The hybrid chip seemingly sports the same 16-core, 32-thread configuration as an early sample that appeared back in October, potentially helping Intel climb up the rankings of our CPU benchmark hierarchy. 

SiSoftware detects the Alder Lake-S part as a 16-core part, meaning there are eight Golden Cove cores and eight Gracemont cores onboard. The configuration coincides with one of many possible Alder Lake-S combinations that appeared in a coreboot patch. Unless Intel has another combination in the pipeline, the 16-core Alder Lake-S should be the flagship SKU.

The new Alder Lake-S sample reportedly features a 1.8 GHz base clock, 400 MHz higher than the previous leaked sample. It's uncertain if the two are the same processor or if Intel has managed to improve the previous chip's base clock. On this occasion, the software was able to pick up the processor's boost clock speed that's apparently configured to 4 GHz. The cache configuration remains unaltered: We still see the 12.5MB of L2 cache and 30MB of L3 cache.

Intel Alder Lake-S Benchmarks

ProcessorProcessor Multi-MediaProcessor Cryptography (High Security)Memory BandwidthGP (GPU) ProcessingGP (GPU) Memory BandwidthGP Global Data Cache/Memory Latencies (In-Page Random Access)Overall GP (GPU) Score
Alder Lake-S (1.8 GHz)263.46 Mpix/s10.61 GB/s34.21 GB/s398.81 Mpix/s24.97 GB/s620.2 ns2.30 kPT
Alder Lake-S (1.4 GHz)318.86 Mpix/s7.27 GB/s13.49 GB/s301.33 Mpix/s6.90 GB/s263.4 ns1.66 kPT

Surprisingly, the 1.4 GHz Alder Lake-S chip delivers a 21% higher score on the processor multi-media test than the 1.8 GHz sample. It's plausible that SiSoftware's Sandra benchamrk software isn't yet fully optimized for Alder Lake-S. We shouldn't lose sight of the fact that Alder Lake-S arrives with a hybrid setup, so the whole high-performance and high-efficiency core arrangement can trip some software up. The 1.8 GHz Alder Lake-S part does score better in some of the other tests though.

The memory bandwidth test is one of the benchmarks that stand out the most. There's an improvement up to a whopping 153.6%. The logical reasoning behind the substantial uplift is that the previous Alder Lake-S was paired with DDR4 memory, while the new sample purportedly runs with DDR5 memory.

Intel Alder Lake-S Benchmarks (Image credit: SiSoftware)

The overall GPU score also saw an improvement up to 38.6% on the 1.8 GHz sample. The submission revealed a similar iGPU configuration with 32 Execution Units (EUs), totaling 256 shading units. Evidently, the new sample was clocked at 1.5 GHz, up to 350 MHz higher than the prior sample.

The new benchmarks certainly restore some faith in Alder Lake-S. It seems that Intel has been playing with the heterogeneous chips to see how far they can go. Alder Lake-S will land in the second half of this year. So there is, admittedly, more than enough time for further improvements. In the meantime, Intel will release its Rocket Lake CPUs to fend off AMD's Ryzen 5000 processors. 

  • Giroro
    Most of this went over my head, because I've like given up on trying to memorize Intel's deliberately-confusing premarketing codewords... plus their official processor naming is pretty bad right now too.

    What I really want to know though, is why a high-power desktop user would want a split of "little" cores when full cores are readily available from their competition.
    Plus I'm already pre-angry at the inevitable scam-marketing Intel will allow their OEMs to use when they start selling these against the R9 5950X as if they have 16 real cores. Remeber how Intel let them add Optane to their "total system memory", even though those cache drives in no way act like RAM?
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    Giroro said:
    What I really want to know though, is why a high-power desktop user would want a split of "little" cores when full cores are readily available from their competition.
    big.LITTLE architectures aren't meant for all-cores heavy-lifting, they are meant to offload low-priority tasks to low-power cores so the fast cores can be used primarily for things that require low latency / high few-threads throughput which is what most desktop software heavily favors.
    Reply
  • nitrium
    So not only the usual new socket and new chipset to use Intel's new chip (despite the competition not requiring this), we now also have to get new RAM (this is assuming you need DDR5 to get the full potential out of these new CPUs?). What sort of price premium will DDR5 have over DDR4? Will it even be widely available at launch? That people continue to stay loyal to the Intel brand beggars belief.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    nitrium said:
    So not only the usual new socket and new chipset to use Intel's new chip (despite the competition not requiring this), we now also have to get new RAM (this is assuming you need DDR5 to get the full potential out of these new CPUs?). What sort of price premium will DDR5 have over DDR4? Will it even be widely available at launch? That people continue to stay loyal to the Intel brand beggars belief.
    AMD is going with AM5 and DDR5 for its next CPUs, so it'll be new everything regardless of which side you are on.

    As for the premium for DDR5, it'll likely be quite substantial due to all of the extra active circuitry (data and address buffer chips on top of the VRM) on the PCB.
    Reply
  • jthill
    So, Intel chips in some unspecified future will be able to handle memory rates 10GB/s below what an r5 3600 can handle today? I mean, seriously, here's a guy benching 40+GB/s with one on a three-year-old B350 motherboard, on ddr4 3000 cl14 memory.
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    Giroro said:
    Plus I'm already pre-angry at the inevitable scam-marketing Intel will allow their OEMs to use when they start selling these against the R9 5950X as if they have 16 real cores.
    The R9 5950X runs all core at 3775Mhz while single is at 5Ghz so at all core you lose about 30% of "cores" (performance) just because they are real cores doesn't mean much.

    Also let's see first what this CPU is even about, it could be replacing the whole lineup or it could be a niche product just like BGA where people freaked out that it would replace every CPU.
    https://www.zdnet.com/article/intel-preparing-to-put-an-end-to-user-replaceable-cpus/
    Reply