Intel's 12th Generation Alder Lake-S processors may be still be a far way off. But the chipmaker has already started sampling the chips to PC partners, and other engineering samples are already running in the hardware world, too. A high-end SKU (via Leakbench (opens in new tab)) with 16 cores has seemingly broken its cover in Geekbench 5.
Alder Lake-S is a hybrid desktop processor, meaning not all cores inside the chip are made equal. The sample that appeared on Geekbench 5 (opens in new tab) reportedly comes equipped with 16 cores and 24 threads and matches one of the potential configurations that we've seen. There's also a logical explanation behind the odd thread count.
To understand Alder Lake-S, you first need to know the exact recipe that Intel is employing for its hybrid parts. There are two distinct core types on Alder Lake-S that have specific responsibilities. The Golden Cove cores are the high-performance cores that cater to heavy workloads, while the Gracemont (Atom) cores are designed for lesser workloads.
Coming back to the Alder Lake-S sample, there should be eight Golden Cove cores and eight Gracemont cores present. We suspect that only the Golden Cove cores leverage Intel's Hyper-Threading technology. Therefore, we have 16 threads from the Golden Cove cores and eight threads from the Gracemont cores, which adds up to the reported total of 24 threads.
Geekbench 5 reported a 1.38 GHz base clock speed that's probably for the Gracemont cores. The reported boost clock, on the other hand, is clearly a mistake, which is common among unreleased hardware that goes through benchmarking software.
The cache configuration for the 16-core Alder Lake-S is also quite interesting. There are eight L2 slices of 1.25MB and 320KB, amounting to a total of 12.5MB of total L2 cache. For the L3 cache, we're also looking at eight slices of 3MB and 768KB that total to 30MB.
The preliminary performance from the 16-core Alder Lake-S part is far from impressive though. As with any unreleased hardware, we recommend taking the benchmark numbers with some skeptical salt. As far as today's sample goes, the Alder Lake-S processor scored 996 points in the single-core test and 6,931 points in the multi-core test. For comparison, the single-core performance is right in the same alley as the AMD's mobile Ryzen 5 4600H (994 average points), while its multi-core performance on par with the Ryzen 5 3600X (6,906 average points).
Alder Lake-S, which commands the new LGA1700 socket, will come out of Intel's 10nm Enhanced SuperFin silicon oven. The chipmaker has previously affirmed that Alder Lake-S competes in the performance segment. Today's outing doesn't look very imposing, although Intel won't likely release Alder Lake until the second half of 2021, so this may just be a teaser of what Alder Lake could offer.