Although Intel's 10th Generation Comet Lake-S (opens in new tab) CPUs have only just arrived, it appears that Intel's already fine-tuning Rocket Lake chips. Hardware detective @_rogame (opens in new tab) has reportedly discovered an early engineering sample (ES) of a six-core part.
Intel's 14nm process node has been around for a long time now. The last couple of generations of Intel processors were technically based on the same Skylake microarchitecture that debuted five years ago, (albeit with some changes here and there). If the rumors are accurate, Rocket Lake desktop CPUs (opens in new tab) should be the last chips using the aging process.
Rocket Lake is rumored to transition to the Willow Cove microarchitecture. For reference, Intel is also expected to use Willow Cove cores in its forthcoming Tiger Lake CPUs (opens in new tab), which are expected to land in mobile chips preceding Rocket Lake. However, Tiger Lake should leverage the chipmaker's brand-new 10nm manufacturing process. Fortunately, Rocket Lake will probably slide into the recent LGA1200 socket, which Intel just introduced with Comet Lake.
It's also rumored that Intel is likely to stick with its Gen12 Xe integrated graphics for Rocket Lake. However, we haven't seen any early benchmarks corroborating the rumor. If true, Rocket Lake will be an interesting mix that combines 14nm CPU cores (opens in new tab) and 10nm graphics in a chiplet design. Above all, the biggest attraction that Rocket Lake has to offer is the long overdue support for the PCIe (opens in new tab) 4.0, an interface that AMD has already adopted on the majority of its CPUs.
Thus far, the six-core, 12-thread model surfaced with a 3.5 GHz base clock (opens in new tab) and 4.2 GHz boost clock. According to the hardware sleuth, there are multiple Rocket Lake submissions for 3DMark 11, but this particular one has the best score of them all.
For comparison, the tipster provided scores for the Core i5-10400 (codename Comet Lake) chip. The Core i5-10400 also conforms to a six-core, 12-thread design, making it the perfect comparison chip. The Core i5-10400 checks in with a 2.9 GHz base clock and 4.3 GHz boost clock.
The Rocket Lake processor scored 11,944 points in the physics test and 1,900 points in the graphics test. The Core i5-10400, on the other hand, put up scores of 12,828 points and 1,822 points in the physics and graphics tests, respectively. On the computing side, the Comet Lake chip seemingly delivers up to 7.4% higher performance than the Rocket Lake chip. In regards to integrated graphics, the Rocket Lake part is up to 4.3% faster. Given that it's an engineering sample, it might be too early to draw any concrete conclusions for Rocket Lake.
The estimated time frame for Rocket Lake's launch is between Q4 of this year and the Q1 2021. Assuming that everything that we've known about Rocket Lake materializes, 400-series motherboard (opens in new tab) owners might finally have a processor that's able to exploit PCIe 4.0 -- a feature for which which they've already paid a premium.