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Intel Announces Rocket Lake 2021 Release Ahead of AMD's Zen 3 Announcement

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Despite an overwhelming amount of evidence that Intel's Rocket Lake chips exist, the company hasn't officially announced its new chips for the desktop PC – but that changes today. John Bonini, Intel's VP and GM of desktops and gaming, penned a blog today covering several facets of the company's gaming initiatives, but dropped in this tasty tidbit:

"Though as you'd expect, we're constantly looking ahead at what's next and how we can make our desktop CPUs even better. With that said, I'm also happy to confirm that the next generation 11th Gen Intel Core desktop processors (codenamed "Rocket Lake") is coming in the first quarter of 2021 and will provide support for PCIe 4.0. It'll be another fantastic processor for gaming, and we're excited to disclose more details in the near future. There's a lot more to come, so stay tuned!" [Emphasis added]

That means we'll see the 11th-gen Rocket Lake processors land in the first quarter of 2021, purportedly bringing the company's first new microarchitecture for the desktop PC in five years. They also mark Intel's first desktop PC chip to support PCIe 4.0, two long years after AMD was first to market with chips that support the speedy interface.

It isn't surprising that Intel chose today to make its first official announcement about Rocket Lake: AMD is on the cusp of announcing its hotly-anticipated Zen 3 processors tomorrow, which will come with either Ryzen 4000 or 5000 branding, so now's a good time for Intel to step in and attempt to steal the spotlight. If you want to see the details of AMD's new chips, at least all that we've pieced together so far, head to our AMD Zen 3 all we know article

It will be a bit hard for Intel to steal the spotlight, given that AMD's Zen 3 announcement is tomorrow, likely meaning the new Ryzen chips will ship this year. Meanwhile, Intel's statement seemingly confirms recent reports of Rocket Lake's release in March.

Most of Intel's blog post outlines the company's lead in gaming performance over AMD, and Intel surely wants to remind us of that fact before the Zen 3 launch – especially in light of the gaming-centric marketing we already see from AMD in the run-up to the Zen 3 launch. In fact, AMD's Zen 3 announcement landing page proclaims, "With the next wave of AMD Ryzen processors and the all-new Zen 3 architecture, AMD is taking its PC gaming and content creation leadership to new heights."

The details of Intel's Rocket Lake chips are one of the worst-kept secrets in the industry. We first heard of the chips in January of last year, and the intervening months have found an amazing amount of information trickle out. However, Intel hasn't officially acknowledged Rocket Lake's existence until today, even going to far as to announce its next-next gen 10nm Alder Lake chips before making an official Rocket Lake announcement.

So what does Rocket Lake have in store for us? We've got the deep-dive details here in our Rocket Lake All We Know article, but the high-level explainer is that the chips will bring support for PCIe 4.0 to an Intel desktop chip for the first time. The chips are largely thought to come with a new CPU microarchitecture, and test submissions certainly further that theory, paired with Intel's impressive Xe LP graphics architecture. 

We also expect Rocket Lake's clock speeds to meet, or exceed, the company's current 5.3 GHz peak boost on its Core i9-10900K processors, setting the stage for a pitched competition between AMD and Intel in 2021.

  • nofanneeded
    Q1 2021 ? I was hoping at the end of this year . pfft .
    Reply
  • lilyammy
    "With that said, I'm also happy to confirm that the next generation 11th Gen Intel Core desktop processors (codenamed "Rocket Lake") is coming in the first quarter of 2021 ..."

    "That means we'll see the 11th-gen Rocket Lake processors land in the first quarter of 2021 "

    Thanks for the translation.
    Reply
  • HotRod5353
    What an embarrassment.
    Reply
  • saunupe1911
    This is just dumb...you can barely even find a 10900k...luckily a 10850K is the same thing. But I feel bad for anyone that purchased any of these CPUs at this point. I know plenty people will say "Well PCIE 4.0 won't bring much benefit." Ehhh I'm not so sure about that once software catchup to it's features.
    Reply
  • Integr8d
    Cut to Q3 of 2026
    Reply
  • Avro Arrow
    None of this makes any difference for a few reasons.
    Most consumers are tired of Intel's BS or just don't care
    Intel will no longer have the fastest gaming CPU
    Intel refuses to bring their pricing down to Earth no matter whatEven with Intel having the fastest gaming CPU, AMD is gaining 1% market share per month according to Steam's survey (of gamers) and has passed 25% already. That's a ~5% jump (in the world's largest group of PC gamers ) since Q2 2018. Intel's "last bastion" was already falling and the 5000 series will be the cannon that finally brings down the wall.

    Intel was holding on with their single-thread performance and high clock speeds for gaming but it was clear that consumers wanted little part of what they were offering despite AMD not quite matching Intel's gaming performance.

    Now that people have owned and used AMD-based systems, they're realising that the differences between AMD and Intel's gaming performance is irrelevant for everyone who isn't a competitive FPS gamer (probably over 98% of people). They're also realising that their actual PC experience comes from software they use with hardware only offering performance that they often cannot effectively gauge without test equipment.

    Speaking of competitive gamers, the ones who stream while gaming have come to see that their net fps rate is better with Intel when just gaming but better with AMD when gaming and streaming concurrently. More market share for AMD again.

    What is Intel going to do when Zen 3 makes AMD superior in gaming as well? This will make AMD CPUs superior to Intel CPUs in every possible way PLUS they'll be cheaper and AMD CPUs still come with CPU coolers while Intel doesn't even include that $2 stock Intel cooler that they used to.

    Here's what the PC landscape will look like after tomorrow:
    Mainstream Desktop:
    Cheapest CPU/APU overall: Athlon 3000G (APU)
    Best budget APU: R3-3200G
    Best gaming APU: R5-3400G
    Best budget gaming CPU: R3-3300X
    Best mainstream gaming CPU: R5-5600X
    Best all-around value CPU: R7-3700X
    Best high-end gaming CPU: R7-5800X
    Best mainstream Prosumer CPU: R9-5900X
    Best HEDT CPU: TR-3990X

    Mobile:
    Best value mobile APU: R5-4500U
    Best all-around mobile APU: R7-4800U
    Best performance mobile APU: R7-4800H

    Server:
    Best server CPU: EPYC 7702

    Left out in the cold: Everything made by Intel

    This is assuming that only R5 through R9 parts are revealed in the beginning with EPYC, Threadripper, R3 and all APUs to be announced at a later date.

    Intel is DESPERATE and the last time they were desperate, they took some 28-core engineering sample and showed it running at 5GHz on all cores. Oops, but they "forgot" to mention that they were using a liquid cooling solution with an industrial water chiller. All because AMD was about to reveal Zen+ and Intel had nothing but wouldn't admit it. Guess what, they still have nothing and are still trying to make it look like something. Just like that engineering sample, they have nothing but might have something at a later date.
    Reply
  • Blackbird77
    Big yawn for Intel. Too much talk, too little fact.
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    Avro Arrow said:
    None of this makes any difference for a few reasons.

    Consumers are tired of Intel's BS
    Intel will no longer have the fastest gaming CPU
    Intel refuses to bring their pricing down to Earth no matter whatEven with Intel having the fastest gaming CPU, AMD is gaining 1% market share per month according to Steam's survey (of gamers) and has passed 25% already. That's a ~5% jump in the world's largest group of PC gamers since Q2 2018.

    Intel was holding on with their single-thread performance and high clock speeds for gaming but it was clear that consumers wanted little part of what they were offering despite AMD not quite matching Intel's gaming performance.

    Now that people have owned and used AMD-based systems, they're realising that the differences between AMD and Intel's gaming performance is irrelevant for everyone who isn't a competitive FPS gamer (probably over 98% of people). They're also realising that their actual PC experience comes from software they use with hardware only offering performance that they often cannot gauge.

    Speaking of competitive gamers, the ones who stream while gaming have come to see that their net fps rate is better with Intel when just gaming but better with AMD when gaming and streaming concurrently. More market share for AMD again.

    What is Intel going to do when Zen 3 makes AMD superior in gaming as well? This will make AMD CPUs superior to Intel CPUs in every possible way PLUS they'll be cheaper and AMD CPUs still come with CPU coolers while Intel doesn't even include that $2 stock Intel cooler that they used to.

    Here's what the PC landscape will look like after tomorrow:
    Mainstream Desktop:
    Cheapest CPU/APU overall: Athlon 3000G (APU)
    Best budget APU: R3-3200G
    Best gaming APU: R5-3400G
    Best budget gaming CPU: R3-3300X
    Best mainstream gaming CPU: R5-5600X
    Best all-around value CPU: R7-3700X
    Best high-end gaming CPU: R7-5800X
    Best mainstream Prosumer CPU: R9-5900X
    Best HEDT CPU: TR-3990X

    Mobile:
    Best value mobile APU: R5-4500U
    Best all-around mobile APU: R7-4800U
    Best performance mobile APU: R7-4800H

    Server:
    Best server CPU: EPYC 7702

    Left out in the cold: Everything made by Intel

    This is assuming that only R5 through R9 parts are revealed in the beginning with EPYC, Threadripper, R3 and all APUs to be announced at a later date.
    AMD can come out with a CPU that is 10 times faster and 10 times cheaper and they will still be no danger to intel.
    AMD just doesn't have the capacity to make enough CPUs to make any kind of difference.
    A customer that wants a PC now is not going to wait for months for new supply, they are going to make a PC with whatever they can get.
    (Which is why AMD has increased sales in the last months... )
    Reply
  • CerianK
    It looks like I will have to build a new gaming PC within the next 6 months, as my 9 yo oc'd Xeon W3690 CPU can only just barely muster playing Doom@4K60Hz using the GTX 1060 6GB I added several years ago.

    Hold on, this is insane... its probably still good for Diablo II: Resurrected, which is the only thing I am looking forward to (if it gets released).

    Actually, I really do need a new gaming PC, since my 14 yo office PC is getting flaky so I will swap it out with the old gaming PC.

    I'll just have to force myself to like Flight Sim, Cyberpunk 2077, etc. to justify putting a 3080, or similar in the new one.

    Take-away: Sometimes a new PC is just about being shiny new, mostly about having a new GPU (if you already had enough CPU cores), and then trying to get many years of use out of it.
    Reply
  • jkflipflop98
    CerianK said:
    It looks like I will have to build a new gaming PC within the next 6 months, as my 9 yo oc'd Xeon W3690 CPU can only just barely muster playing Doom@4K60Hz using the GTX 1060 6GB I added several years ago.

    Hold on, this is insane... its probably still good for Diablo II: Resurrected, which is the only thing I am looking forward to (if it gets released).

    Actually, I really do need a new gaming PC, since my 14 yo office PC is getting flaky so I will swap it out with the old gaming PC.

    I'll just have to force myself to like Flight Sim, Cyberpunk 2077, etc. to justify putting a 3080, or similar in the new one.

    Take-away: Sometimes a new PC is just about being shiny new, mostly about having a new GPU (if you already had enough CPU cores), and then trying to get many years of use out of it.

    Well, in my case I do a lot of VR gaming. I have an Index and pushing 144hz mode is really difficult for my 1080. For my workload in VR, a 3080 would be quite an upgrade. The problem is finding one.
    Reply