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DDR5 Boosts Raptor Lake CPU Multi-Core Performance By 20 Percent In New Benchmark

Alder Lake
Alder Lake (Image credit: Intel)

Intel's approaching 13th Generation Raptor Lake processors embrace DDR5 and DDR4 memory. Notwithstanding, preliminary benchmarks reveal that the former is better for maximizing performance on the new hybrid desktop chips.

Raptor Lake may be just down the street as recent rumors claim that Intel is allegedly eyeing an October 7 launch date. The initial rollout will include the high-end K-series SKUs, such as the Core i9-13900KCore i7-13700K, and Core i5-13600K, in conjunction with the top-tier Z790 chipset. Although we don't have any official confirmation on the specifications, the Core i7-13700K has popped up a few times in different benchmarks.

The Core i7-13700K is a 16-core processor comprising eight Raptor Cove Performance cores (P-cores) and eight Gracemont Efficiency cores (E-cores). The Raptor Lake chip also has 30MB of L3 cache and reportedly flaunts a 3.4 GHz base clock and 5.3 GHz boost clock. A recent Geekbench 5 submission (opens in new tab) showed that the Core i7-13700K outperforms AMD's flagship Ryzen 9 5950X. However, hardware sleuth Benchleaks (opens in new tab) has uncovered a new submission (opens in new tab) that indicates that the DDR4 memory was holding the Raptor Lake chip back.

The Core i7-13700K with DDR4 system used the ASRock Z690 Steel Legend WiFi 6E, whereas the DDR5 testbed had the Z690 Steel Legend WiFi 6E/D5. The two motherboards are identical except for the memory slots. The DDR4 system used DDR4-3200 memory, and the DDR5 system with DDR5-5200 memory, the native, supported data rates for Raptor Lake. From the Geekbench 5 entries, we know that both systems had 32GB (2x16GB) of memory; therefore, the results are comparable. Unfortunately, Geekbench 5 doesn't go into details, such as the model of the memory modules or the timings. Consequently, we cannot know if the 16GB DDR4 memory modules are single-rank or dual-rank.

Intel Core i7-13700K Benchmarks

ProcessorSingle-Core ScoreMulti-Core Score
Core i7-13700K + DDR5-52002,06919,811
Core i7-13700K + DDR4-32002.09016,542

The results showed that DDR5 didn't do much for the Core i7-13700K in terms of single-core performance. The DDR5 system was 1% slower than the DDR4 system, but it's within the margin of error. However, the DDR5 system delivered up to 20% higher multi-core performance. That's a pretty significant performance delta.

DDR5 pricing has been improving. The pricing gap between DDR5 and DDR4 will eventually get smaller over time, but it's unlikely that DDR5 will cost the same as DDR4. The former is much more expensive to manufacture and features a more intricate design with added components like power management integrated circuits (PMIC) and VRMs.

DDR5 memory can boost Alder Lake's overall performance, depending on the workload. However, unlike Alder Lake, which wields Golden Cove cores, Raptor Lake uses Raptor Cove cores, which could behave differently to memory speeds. While the preliminary results with DDR5 look promising, we'd have to conduct thorough tests to pass judgment on whether DDR5 is worth the premium over high-performance DDR4.

Zhiye Liu
Zhiye Liu

Zhiye Liu is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Although he loves everything that’s hardware, he has a soft spot for CPUs, GPUs, and RAM.

  • -Fran-
    I am expecting, more or less, this to be pretty accurate on release. The new IMC should yield better DDR5 scaling and now they must have figured out how to improve the ring BUS a bit more so it works better with DDR5 (gear 2 vs 1).

    As with other leaks: cautiously optimistic.

    Regards.
    Reply
  • Sleepy_Hollowed
    It'd be a bit more interesting to see this same test with a DDR4 3600 or 3800, but that's still impressive enough to warrant using DDR5 on those builds.

    I'd love to see all next gen mainboards get support for ECC buffered RAM too, but that's just wishful really. Some AMD boards implemented and certified some DIMMs, but they were not fast enough to use outside of integrity or reliability required use cases.
    Reply
  • cryoburner
    The results showed that DDR5 didn't do much for the Core i7-13700K in terms of single-core performance. The DDR5 system was 1% slower than the DDR4 system, but it's within the margin of error. However, the DDR5 system delivered up to 20% higher multi-core performance. That's a pretty significant performance delta.
    These results look extremely questionable. Single core performance is shown to be virtually identical between the two systems, yet multi-core performance gets an almost 20% boost? How do we know the system running DDR5 wasn't given a substantial all-core overclock? It seems unlikely that the different memory type would make that much of a performance difference, seeing as it didn't affect the single-core results in any meaningful way. I suppose the higher bandwidth could theoretically reduce congestion with certain heavily-multithreaded workloads, and they are apparently using different algorithms for the single and multi-core tests, but it still seems questionable.

    Leaks seem to indicate that Raptor Lake's architecture is very similar to Alder Lake's, with the main changes being limited to the number of low-power cores, along with clock rates and the amount of cache, and while I don't know if it still holds true, it was rumored a while back that the memory controller would be the same. So I have some doubts that the performance characteristics between DDR4 and DDR5 will change much going from Alder Lake to Raptor Lake.

    Of course, Geekbench arguably isn't an ideal choice of benchmark, and features synthetic workloads, so even if a difference is there, it may not translate to most real-world applications. I suspect the actual performance difference isn't going to be nearly that large, and we will also likely continue to see very similar, or in some cases better performance with DDR4 in latency-sensitive workloads like games.
    Reply
  • WrongRookie
    Man..12th gen hasn't even completed a year and we're already starting at 13th gen?
    Reply
  • KyaraM
    WrongRookie said:
    Man..12th gen hasn't even completed a year and we're already starting at 13th gen?
    Intel releases a new generation every year for ages now. Where is the news here? These are leaks, and they floated around for a while now in different forms. They always predate the finished product, and always have to be taken with a grain of salt since they are using CPUs that are not final and still on unoptimized platforms. Actual release is within a year of Alder Lake.
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    KyaraM said:
    Intel releases a new generation every year for ages now. Where is the news here?
    Sure but it would be 5-10% due to IPC in one gen, and then 5-10% due to the better arch giving better clocks the next year.
    Both of which would be irrelevant because you could overclock more than that so you where ok comparing your OC system against a stock new system for 2-3 gens.
    Now they are doubling the core count...of the e-cores at least, causing a big enough difference that is beyond any sensible overclock.
    Reply
  • KyaraM
    TerryLaze said:
    Sure but it would be 5-10% due to IPC in one gen, and then 5-10% due to the better arch giving better clocks the next year.
    Both of which would be irrelevant because you could overclock more than that so you where ok comparing your OC system against a stock new system for 2-3 gens.
    Now they are doubling the core count...of the e-cores at least, causing a big enough difference that is beyond any sensible overclock.
    I'm... not sure what you are replying to? I was strictly replying to the poster lamenting about it not even being a year since Alder Lake, in that exact content only. I said nothing in regards to, nor was any of it intended to be applied to, the article at hand.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    cryoburner said:
    Single core performance is shown to be virtually identical between the two systems, yet multi-core performance gets an almost 20% boost?
    Single-threaded benchmarks can let the active core hog all of the L3 cache and mostly eliminate the memory controller from the equation. Multi-core can only dedicate ~1/24th of the L3 to each core and would be hammering the memory controller much harder.

    Comparing DDR4-3200 which is basically bargain-basement stuff to DDR5-5200 which costs 50+% more doesn't seem particularly fair beyond being the maximum officially supported speeds for their respective standards. DDR4-4000 is relatively cheap and will work on just about any Intel board at this point, that would be a fairer match-up in terms of value.
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    InvalidError said:
    Comparing DDR4-3200 which is basically bargain-basement stuff to DDR5-5200 which costs 50+% more doesn't seem particularly fair beyond being the maximum officially supported speeds for their respective standards. DDR4-4000 is relatively cheap and will work on just about any Intel board at this point, that would be a fairer match-up in terms of value.
    How much of the market is using DDR-4000? People are more interested in seeing a comparison of the new to whatever they are using so they can see what kind of improvment to expect. 3200 is still likely the most used followed by maybe 3600.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    spongiemaster said:
    How much of the market is using DDR-4000?
    How does this have anything to do with it? If you are buying 12th/13th-gen it doesn't matter what memory the world's install base uses since you will most likely be buying new RAM regardless of whether you go DDR4 or DDR5. You don't buy new RAM on the basis of what systems from the last five years have been using, you buy on the basis of price-performance benefits for the next 3-5 years.

    With 32GB DDR4-4000 kits available for as low as $120, there is little reason to consider anything worse when building a new $1000+ PC when the alternative is spending $120+ extra just to make the jump to DDR5.
    Reply