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.