Skip to main content

Intel's Alder Lake CPUs May Not Work With Older Games

Intel Alder Lake CPU
Intel Alder Lake CPU (Image credit: YuuKi_AnS/Bilibili)

Intel recently shared a developer guide for its forthcoming 12th Generation Alder Lake processors. Gamer's Gospel discovered an interesting tidbit that DRM solutions, such as Denuvo will require updates to support Alder Lake's hybrid design.

Gamers typically upgrade to a new processor to get better performance in games. However, Alder Lake may not be plug-n-play and command special attention from DRM developers. Intel has confirmed in the document that Alder Lake, which is supposed to compete with the best CPUs for gaming, will have compatibility issues with DRM solutions unless the provider issues a special update for the protection in question. Consequently, game developers that implemented the DRM into their games will have to do the same.

"If your existing or upcoming game uses a DRM middleware, you might want to contact the middleware provider and confirm that it supports hybrid architectures in general, and the upcoming Intel ADL platform in particular. Due to the nature of modern DRM algorithms, it might use CPU detection, and should be aware of the upcoming hybrid platforms. Intel is working with leading DRM providers such as Denuvo* to make sure their solutions support new platforms."

Many, if not all, modern triple-A titles carry some type of DRM protection to defend against piracy. Intel specifically mentioned the Denuvo algorithm, but we suspect that other protections, such as VMProtect or SecuROM will likely necessitate an update as well. Certain games, like Assassin's Creed Origins even have multiple layers of protection, probably requiring multiple updates.

It shouldn't be a huge issue for modern games since developers will in all likelihood provide the update for Alder Lake. The problem arises for older titles that are a couple of years old that likely won't get any updates, meaning they'll be unplayable on Alder Lake chips. There are many gems out there that have high replay value so gamers will be annoyed that they can't play them on the shiny, new Alder Lake processor that they just bought. 

Some game developers eventually remove DRM protections when significant time has passed since the game's launch, but that's not the case for every title. Sometimes developers deploy DRM-free versions of their games on platforms, including GOG. If neither situation is viable, gamers may be forced to resort to piracy despite legally owning the game.

  • Metal Messiah.
    So now gamers will have more valid reason to boycott DENUVO games ? But anyway, that's a pretty interesting finding on Alder Lake's hybrid architecture. I'm pretty sure the DRM devs will patch their protection mechanism to support the hybrid arch. I'm just wondering how are modern games going to perform on the ADL CPU series. But what if the coding/patching can't be done properly ?

    It would be nice if we get a performance comparison benchmark of any AAA denuvo-laden game when the series is launched next month, between Rocket Lake, and other older gen CPUs VS the new Alder Lake lineup.

    Honestly speaking, any DENUVO DRM game only legitimately hurts the buyer/owner of the game, and not pirates who enjoy stutter free gaming, if any, which has been caused by the DRM. Some games are not affected in performance though, despite having Denuvo, but I always prefer a DRM-free game on my library. GOG is my preferred platform, but these denuvo games won't land up in this store, unless the drm protection has been removed.

    And like you have also mentioned in the article, other protection mechanisms like VMProtect, SecuROM might be in the same boat as denuvo.
    The problem arises for older titles that are a couple of years old that likely won't get any updates, meaning they'll be unplayable on Alder Lake chips. There are many gems out there that have high replay value so gamers will be annoyed that they can't play them on the shiny, new Alder Lake processor that they just bought.

    Right on the Money !
    Reply
  • ezst036
    I bet there will be solutions offered to reduce the impact of this. Sooner or later.

    Also, I wonder if using Proton/Steam on Linux circumvents the situation entirely. It would be fun to see.
    Reply
  • rgd1101
    maybe that why we haven't see much game benchmark.
    Reply
  • Sleepy_Hollowed
    Ooof, so that's a skip. Maybe next generation if they've fixed older games, but that's a big no from me boss.

    This is a good time to say: those that have been buying your games on GoG do not have to worry about this due to their DRM-free policy.
    Reply
  • RodroX
    rgd1101 said:
    maybe that why we haven't see much game benchmark.

    lol, I was about to write the same, you won!

    Intel's Alder Lake CPUs May Not Work With Older Games
    Reply
  • Phaaze88
    Well, ain't this a load of malarkey. Most of what I do play would likely be considered old.

    It's still early - it may get patched... ahh well, I don't have to worry about it until at least 13xxx, or whatever they'll call it.
    Reply
  • korekan
    probably next or the other gen will be more smooth? without changes
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    Wasn't it basically confirmed that you can shut down the small cores from bios?
    It's a mild inconvenience at best to turn alder into a normal CPU and it will still perform better then previous gens.
    Reply
  • hannibal
    You most likely can turn of these little cores from bios, but how often you would turn them on and off... so not very practical.
    This was little surprising, the point of little cores should be that they are compatible with big cores, only much much slower. So hard to see, why older games would not work.... They should, just slower...
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    hannibal said:
    You most likely can turn of these little cores from bios, but how often you would turn them on and off... so not very practical.
    This was little surprising, the point of little cores should be that they are compatible with big cores, only much much slower. So hard to see, why older games would not work.... They should, just slower...
    It's about Denuvo seeing the small cores as an attempt to mess with the CPU to circumvent the protection just because it's something that shouldn't be there.
    Reply