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Intel Alder Lake CPU Specs Expose 5.3 GHz Boost Clock, 228W PL2

Image of a processor on a motherboard.
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Update 15/07/2021 12:00pm PT: We've independently confirmed the specifications with our own sources. The configurations are spot-on, however, the clock speeds are for the engineering samples (ES) so the final specifications are bound to vary.

Original Story:

A Zhihu forum user (via La Frite David on Twitter) has reportedly posted the specifications for Intel's approaching 12th Generation Alder Lake K-series processors. As with early leaked specifications, it's recommended to treat the information with a lot of caution.

Specifications for normal desktop processors are pretty straightforward, since all of the cores adhere to the same clock speeds. But with Alder Lake, Intel's introducing a hybrid design; That means there is a lot more information for people to digest. You have to look at specifications individually for the high-performance Golden Cove CPU cores as well as the more power-efficient Gracemont cores.

In today's leak, the Zhihu user shared the alleged specifications for the Core i9-12900K, Core i7-12700K and Core i5-12600K, which are the unlocked models for overclocking. Apparently, the trio of K-series chips share the same power levels. The PL1 (Power Level 1), which is the metric that Intel openly promotes, is rated for 125W. This doesn't come as a surprise as past K-series chips, including Rocket Lake and Comet Lake also sported as 125W PL1 rating. 

It would appear that the real improvement lies with the PL2 (Power Level 2), which corresponds to the maximum power draw when the turbo comes into play. For comparison, the Core i9-11900K and Core i7-11700K Rocket Lake chips are fixed to a 250W PL2. Their Alder Lake equivalents purportedly dropped down to 228W, representing a small 8.8% decrease.

Intel 12th Gen Alder Lake Specifications

ProcessorGolden Cove / Gracemont CoresGolden Cove 1-2C / 8C Boost (GHz)Gracemont 1-4C / 8C Boost (GHz)L3 Cache (MB)PL1 (W)PL2 (W)
Core i9-12900K8 / 85.3 / 5.03.9 / 3.730125228
Core i7-12700K8 / 45.0 / 4.73.8 / 3.625125228
Core i5-12600K6 / 44.9 / 4.53.6 / 3.420125228

The Core i9-12900K will lead the charge for Intel's 12th Generation and will arrive to replace the Core i9-11900K. Naturally, the Core i7-11700K and Core i5-11600K will pass the baton over to the Core i7-12700K and Core i5-12600K, respectively. In terms of core count, Alder Lake will be similar to Rocket Lake when it comes to the big cores. However, Alder Lake comes with the addition of the Gracemont cores that will probably make the heterogeneous processors look good on paper for those counting total cores.

The Core i9-12900K features 16 cores in a configuration where there are eight Golden Cove cores and eight Gracemont cores. There's 30MB of L3 cache onboard the Core i9-12900K. The Golden Cove cores feature a 5.3 GHz dual-core boost clock and 5 GHz all-core boost clock. The Gracemont cores, on the other hand, rocks a 3.9 GHz quad-core boost clock and a 3.7 GHz all-core boost clock.

The Core i7-12700K arrives with four fewer Gracemont cores than the Core i9-12900K. The leak points to 12 total cores in a 8+4 setup and a 25MB L3 cache. The dual-core and all-core boost clock speeds for the Golden Cove cores are 5 GHz and 4.7 GHz, respectively. As for the Gracemont cores, they operate with a 3.8 GHz dual-core boost clock and 3.6 GHz all-core boost clock.

The Core i5-12600K is equipped with 10 cores in a 6+4 configuration that's complemented with a 20MB L3 cache. The Golden Cove cores come equipped with a 4.9 GHz dual-core and 4.6 GHz hexa-core boost clock speeds, while the Gracemont cores are limited to a 3.6 GHz dual-core boost clock and 3.4 GHz quad-core boost clock.

The rough time frame for Alder Lake's debut spans between late 2021 and early 2022. We will know soon enough whether Intel's brave bet on a hybrid desktop chip pays off.

  • peachpuff
    My magic 8 ball says intels marketing team will say our chip has moar cores so it's better
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    peachpuff said:
    My magic 8 ball says intels marketing team will say our chip has moar cores so it's better
    No, they won't. Even if Intel counted the small cores the same as the large cores, what math would they use to claim the 16 cores in the 12900k were more than the 16 cores in the 5950x? The Pentium math bug was with division, not addition.
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    spongiemaster said:
    No, they won't. Even if Intel counted the small cores the same as the large cores, what math would they use to claim the 16 cores in the 12900k were more than the 16 cores in the 5950x? The Pentium math bug was with division, not addition.
    Moar cores than the previous intel CPU not compared to AMD.
    How they compare to AMD will be based on the performance, regardless of the amount of cores.
    Reply
  • peachpuff
    spongiemaster said:
    No, they won't. Even if Intel counted the small cores the same as the large cores, what math would they use to claim the 16 cores in the 12900k were more than the 16 cores in the 5950x? The Pentium math bug was with division, not addition.
    The 5950x wont compete with the 12900k, it'll compete with the 8core 5800x.
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    TerryLaze said:
    Moar cores than the previous intel CPU not compared to AMD.
    How they compare to AMD will be based on the performance, regardless of the amount of cores.
    That's not what peachpuff was implying.
    Reply
  • spongiemaster
    peachpuff said:
    The 5950x wont compete with the 12900k, it'll compete with the 8core 5800x.
    No, it won't. The 11900k competes with the 5800x. If the 12900x does as well with 8 GoldenCove cores and 8 more Gracemont cores, something went very wrong.

    Edit: Also, the 11900k MSRP's at $550. There is absolutely no chance at all that the 12900k retails for $450 at launch. It will not be a direct competitor to the 5800x.
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    spongiemaster said:
    No, it won't. The 11900k competes with the 5800x. If the 12900x does as well with 8 GoldenCove cores and 8 more Gracemont cores, something went very wrong.

    Edit: Also, the 11900k MSRP's at $550. There is absolutely no chance at all that the 12900k retails for $450 at launch. It will not be a direct competitor to the 5800x.
    The 5800x is on the same level as the 11700k in applications, and about the same power draw if power limits are enforced.
    The 11700 has an average of 120W with power limits enforced and the 5800x without PBO is at roughly 110W average in the tested productivity apps.
    https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/intel-core-i7-11700k-cpu-review/2
    Reply
  • Sippincider
    How many cores can the i9-12900K run at full boost for extended periods, before thermals come into play? Interested in this chip but looking to see real-word numbers.

    Somewhere there's a practical limit of how much heat you can draw off a given area of silicon. :) (Without resorting to impractical stuff like liquid helium...)
    Reply
  • PCWarrior
    Let’s break it down.
    • The 12900K has 8 big cores with hyperthreading plus 8 little cores without hyperthreading.
    • The single-threaded performance of the big Golden Cove cores in Cinebench will likely be around 30% higher than the Sunny Cove cores found in 11900K.
    • It is possible the multithreaded performance of the big cores when working together to be further improved due to improvements in hyperthreading, due to larger shared cache sizes, due to DDR5, etc. So far, when the all-core and single-core frequency is the same, the multithreaded score with hyperthreading is equal to the single threaded score times the number of physical cores times 1.25. It is possible that Intel manages to increase the latter factor from 1.25x to 1.3x yielding a further 4% IPC improvement in multithreaded workloads.
    • So best case scenario for the big cores is to have a combined multithreaded IPC improvement of 1.3*1.04=1.35x. That’s 35% IPC uplift (in MT Cinebench).
    • The 11900K with adaptive boost does around 6200 in CB R20. Assuming same clock speeds from the 8 big cores of the 12900K we get from them 8370 points.
    • The 8 little cores should be behaving like Skylake cores. Since they don’t have hyperthreading it will be around what an i7 9700K can do when clocked at 3.7GHz on all cores. Scaling based on the 9700K gives that the 8 little cores should contribute around 2870 points.
    • Adding the two scores together gives us 11240 points, which is right on with the 11300 estimate that has surfaced recently in Chinese forums.
    Reply
  • wwenze1
    This is not a good sign for people waiting to buy Alder Lake to enjoy better perf/watt
    Reply