It feels like a bad nightmare. Intel's LGA1200 socket for Comet Lake (opens in new tab) processors isn't even a year old yet, and there are already talks of a new socket for next year's 10nm processor.
The latest Intel document (via @momomo_us (opens in new tab)) seemingly confirms that 12th Generation Alder Lake processors willprobably land with the LGA1700 socket. Alder Lake-S refers to the desktop processors, while the Alder Lake-P is a mystery for now.
Intel's nomenclature for its sockets has remained unchanged over the years. As the name implies, the LGA1700 socket will likely come with 500 more pins, which represent a 41.7% pin increase over the existing LGA1200 socket. It'll be interesting to see how Intel distribute the additional pins, and whether LGA1700 socket proves to be wider or longer than the LGA1200 socket.
Normally, the excess pins are there to deliver more power to the processor, support new features or expand I/O capabilities. In Alder Lake's case, it could be all of the aforementioned. Intel's recent Lakefield processors (opens in new tab) brought a hybrid design that combines powerful cores with energy-efficient cores, similar to Arm's big.LITTLE microarchitecture. The current buzz around town is that Alder Lake could bring this same concept to the desktop, and that's seemingly confirmed by a recent HWinfo update that lists Alder Lake as a "hybrid CPU," which is Intel's nomenclature for the big.LITTLE-esq implementation in Lakefield.
Lakefield blends one big core with four smaller cores into a five-core package. Alder Lake, on the other hand, could break cover with a 16-core design that merges eight big cores with eight small cores. Lakefield employs Sunny Cove and Tremont for the high-performance and low-powered cores, respectively.
Alder Lake might utilize a combination of Golden Cove and Gracemont cores, the first being the successor to Willow Cove and the latter for Tremont. However, there isn't any evidence that remotely backs up this hypothesis. The rumored thermal limit for Alder Lake is 125W and if so, it would be on the same grounds as Comet Lake.
There are a lot more hearsay on Alder Lake, and for now, we should take them with a pinch of salt. In terms of support, Alder Lake allegedly welcomes the PCIe 4.0 interface and DDR5 memory. Being a 10nm part, Alder Lake likely leverages Intel's Xe graphics, but it's unclear which generation of the iGPU will be featured inside the chip.