The first benchmark results of Intel's yet unannounced eight-core Core i3-N300-series processors have been posted online. The eight-core processors appear to be slower than Intel's quad-core Core i3-12100 and six-core Core i3-1210U in Bapco's CrossMark as well as Primate Labs's Geekbench 5, which may suggest that we could be dealing with Intel's anticipated Alder Lake-N CPUs that only feature Atom-class energy-efficient cores. As ever with leaks, treat the news with a pinch of salt until it can be verified.
Intel's Core i3-N300-Series
Intel yet has to formally introduce its Core i3-N300-series processors for notebooks. It seems as though their results in Bapco's CrossMark and Primate Labs's Geekbench 5 benchmark suites have already been published by someone either accidentally or by design. Based on entries in Bapco's database (via @Benchleaks), Intel's Core i3-N300 and Core i3-N305 processors feature eight physical cores and eight logical cores (i.e., they do not support simultaneous multithreading) as well as Intel's built-in graphics. The Core i3-N305 has a base frequency of 1.80 GHz and a maximum frequency of 3.78 GHz, according to the Geekbench 5 database.
The Core i3-N300-powered system was equipped with 8GB of memory as well as an SCY 512GB NVMe SSD, whereas the Core i3-N305-based machine came with 16GB of DDR4-3200 memory as well as an SCY 512GB NVMe drive. In both cases systems reported about one memory channel, which is consistent with rumors about Alder Lake-N having only one memory channel.
|Header Cell - Column 0||Overall||Productivity||Creativity||Responsiveness||Notes|
|Core i3-N300||686||738||681||564||8GB DDR4-3200, single-channel|
|Core i3-N305||911||961||870||890||16GB DDR4-3200, single-channel|
|Core i3-1210U||1359||1393||1340||1319||8GB LPDDR4X-4267, octa-channel|
|Core i3-12100||1372||1435||1342||1284||8GB DDR4-3200, single-channel|
Benchmark results of Intel's eight Core i3-N300 and Core i3-N305 processors do not look overly impressive when compared to Intel's quad-core Core i3-12100 (4P cores, eight threads) and six-core Core i3-1210U (2P + 4E cores, eight threads). Intel's currently available parts are better for Productivity and Creativity workloads emulated by CrossMark as well as offer better responsiveness. It is noteworthy that the Core i3-N300 is significantly behind the Core i3-N305 despite similar number of cores. Perhaps, the former runs at tangibly lower clocks than the latter, or maybe a misconfiguration on the pre-production system used to run the tests.
Geekbench 5 Performance
|Header Cell - Column 0||Core i3-N305||Core i3-1210U||Core i3-12100|
|General specifications||8E, up to 3.78 GHz||2P, 4E, up to 4.40 GHz||4P, up to 4.30 GHz|
|Single-Core | Integer||922||1287||1399|
|Single-Core | Float||1080||1569||1689|
|Single-Core | Crypto||2041||2542||4425|
|Single-Core | Score||1025||1434||1637|
|Multi-Core | Integer||4435||4121||5929|
|Multi-Core | Float||4514||4662||7021|
|Multi-Core | Crypto||3658||4903||7313|
|Multi-Core | Score||4420||4322||6326|
Performance of Intel's eight-core Core i3-N305 processor in Geekbench 5 is not too impressive either as it again falls behind Intel's six-core Core i3-1210U as well as quad-core Core i3-12100. The Core i3-N305 run at around 3.78 GHz most of the time (its maximum supported clock speed), so it was clearly not constrained by frequency or thermals. Nonetheless, keep in mind that we are dealing with pre-production hardware, so take these results with a grain of salt anyway.
Since Intel has not formally announced either Core i3-N300-series or its codenamed Alder Lake-N processors, we cannot say that the former CPUs are based on the ADL-N silicon with 100% probability. While Intel could have rolled-out two eight-core Core i3 parts based on some outdated silicon and microarchitecture and decided to use all-new model numbers for them, another explanation could be that Core i3-N300-series parts are indeed Alder Lake-N CPUs that feature only energy-efficient cores that are significantly slower when compared to Intel's Golden Cove cores. If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.
Furthermore, considering that Intel's mobile processors currently sold under Celeron and Pentium brands will be marketed under Intel Processor N100 and N200 monikers in 2023, it might be logical for Intel to offer N300-series processors under its Core i3 brand to address users who understand the value of its Core trademark. In the end, N100, N200, and N300 model numbers will be somewhat more consistent than today's hoard of Pentium Gold, Pentium Silver, Celeron Gold, and Celeron N.
Intel's New Mobile CPU Lineup
Intel formally introduced its 13th Generation Core family of CPUs earlier this week. High-end models in the family will use all-new silicon with up to eight high-performance Raptor Cove and 16 Gracemont energy-efficient cores. By contrast, most midrange Core i5 and all entry-level Core i3 processors will continue to rely on Alder Lake 6P silicon with up to six high-performance cores.
Meanwhile since Intel's 7 (aka 10nm Enhanced SuperFin) production node has now been used for well over a year, expect regular continuous process improvements (CPI) to kick in and improve yields and overclockability of Alder Lake 6P-based products. As a result, it might be more preferable to buy 13th Generation Core i5 and Core i3 CPUs than stick to last year's 12th Generation Core i5/i3 parts.
Formally, Intel's Core i3-N300-series processors are not parts of the company's 13th Generation Core processors family, even though they seem to use Gracemont cores and Intel 7 process technology. In fact, the introduction of Core i3 N300-series looks like a wise move by Intel as it clearly distinguishes between its hybrid processors featuring high-performance and energy-efficient cores as well as energy-efficient system-on-chips based solely on low-power Gracemont cores.
The main advantage of Intel's Alder Lake-N processors (and therefore Core i3-N300 parts) is of course their energy efficiency, which promises to enable a very long battery life for laptops featuring these parts. The only question is whether PC makers will actually use relatively expensive displays, solid-state storage, and memory with lowered power consumption to build long-lasting notebooks based on Core i3-N300-series CPUs. The prototype machines used to run Bapco's CrossMark tests were equipped with a cheap 1920 x 1080 display, DDR4 memory, and an SCY SSD, so we are probably not talking about prototypes of high-end or even midrange laptops here.
What remains to be seen is how Intel will divide its N300, N200, and N100-series processors for entry-level low-power laptops. Intel's Core i3-N300-series CPUs featuring eight cores and running at 1.80 GHz ~ 3.80 GHz, so we wonder whether N200 and N100-series SoCs will just feature lower clocks, or some will also have fewer cores.
8GB LPDDR4X-4267, octa-channel
Been waiting for these. The current Atom/Celeron line-up of ultra low power chips is getting quite long in the tooth.
AnAndTech wrote an article testing the E cores by themselves. Now these are 12900k E cores so they are likely clocked a lot higher than the N-300s, but their max output was 48 watts (not TDP, TDP is not power consumption so irrelevant from a Performance Per Watt metric). My guess would be in the 35 watt range which given the performance doesn't make a great PPW metric just based on rough calculations.
I would say they are still perfectly fine for every word/excel and internet surfing. No info on power consumption but they should be very low. Great for low cost laptops.
With the 4 E-core clusters and individual P-cores being roughly equal area, it would be interesting to see how this compares to the larger Alder Lake Pentiums and Celerons (1P + 4E cores), particularly for lightly threaded & bursty client workloads.
That was an AVX2-heavy workload. Intel could cap the new i3 variant much lower and it would perform very well on general-purpose workloads. On the SPECbench page of the same article you linked, the 8 E-cores ran 47.5% and 51.5% as fast as the 8 P-cores / 16-thread configuration on integer and floating-point workloads, respectively. That's actually very impressive, considering they would've done it using only about 20.1% as much power (or less).
Moreover, we know that the Alder Lake i9-12900K clocks its E-cores well above their peak-efficiency point. So, we should expect performance to scale down well to lower power thresholds. Like, you could probably halve power while still maintaining at least 70% of the performance.
So, I'm definitely looking forward to these. For me, the looming question is will there be a socketed version, or are these BGA-only?
The point about low-cost laptops is interesting, because this is the first time Intel has marketed an E-only CPU with i3 branding. Previously, I think they only them as Pentium Silver or Celeron Silver, for the consumer versions. The i3-branding suggests the Gracemont-based successors to those products will continue to be 4-core, since i3 is a higher-tier product than Celeron or Pentium.