Intel's 12th Generation Alder Lake processors might make it to the market by the end of this year. In the meantime, VideoCardz has shared a truckload of information on what we can expect from Intel's first hybrid desktop processors. Some of the specifications fall in line with what Intel has told the world, but we still recommend you take the information with some caution.
Staring with the processor itself, Intel manufactures Alder Lake on the company's 10nm Enhanced SuperFin. The leaked illustration shows Alder Lake with a maximum of eight Golden Cove cores and eight Gracemont cores. The setup matches with one of many Alder Lake configurations that we've already seen, and the marketing material throws some numbers around.
Intel is reportedly touting up to 20% higher single-threaded performance with Golden Cove. It's unknown which previous microarchitecture serves as the chipmaker's point of reference for this comparison, though. Given the roadmap, Willow Cove, which powers Tiger Lake, precedes Golden Cove. However, Intel didn't bring Tiger Lake to the desktop. It makes more sense to compare Golden Cove to Sunny Cove (Rocket Lake) if the chipmaker wanted to make a desktop-to-desktop comparison. On the other end, the Gracement cores purportedly deliver twice the multi-threaded performance on Alder Lake. Since Tremont is the only microarchitecture before Gracemont, the reference should be straightforward.
The die shot also confirms the presence of the Xe LP engine for integrated graphics and the Gaussian and Neural Accelerator 3.0 (GNA 3.0) for AI workloads. The Alder Lake platform also appears to support PCIe 5.0, DDR5 memory, Wi-Fi 6E, and Thunderbolt 4.
Alder Lake processors will command a new socket, more specifically the LGA1700 socket. Compared to the current LGA1200 socket, we're looking at a considerable 41.7% increase in pins. Leaked photographs of Alder Lake reveal that Intel will distribute the extra pins vertically, so Alder Lake chips are taller as opposed to being wider than Intel's current desktop processors. A transition to a new socket allows Intel to release a brand-new wave of chipsets, and the chipmaker is rumored to be cooking up the 600-series chipsets for Alder Lake.
Besides a motherboard upgrade, Alder Lake will also force adopters to invest in a new cooling solution. It's been a while since Intel's desktop processors have suffered such a radical change. For a long time, Intel owners could recycle their coolers from LGA115x through LGA1200, but Alder Lake will finally change that. In addition to motherboard and memory vendors, cooling manufacturers will also benefit from Alder Lake's release.
Alder Lake is flexible in regards to memory support. The interface is still limited to dual-channel memory, so that remains the same. According to VideoCardz's information, the hybrid chips natively support DDR5-4800 and DDR4-3200 memory, and we already know that mobile variants support LPDDR4 and LPDDR5. The publication has learned that only the premium Z690 motherboards will arrive with DDR5 support. In terms of expansion, Alder Lake seemingly offers 16 PCIe 5.0 and four PCIe 4.0 lanes.
With the existing 500-series chipset, Intel finally expanded the Direct Media Interface (DMI) from four lanes to eight lanes. The upcoming 600-series chipset will retain the same x8 link, but the connection will be upgraded to Gen4 data rates. Unfortunately, the diagram of the 600-series chipset doesn't disclose the number of PCIe 4.0 or PCIe 3.0 lanes that it will provide.
As for the 600-series' other attributes, the chipset supports integrated Wi-Fi 6E connectivity, discrete Thunderbolt 4 solutions, USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 ports, and Intel Optane Memory H20.