Intel Alder Lake CPUs To Get 33% More Execution Units Than Current Generation Flagship

Usman Pirzada

The iGPU design plans for Intel's upcoming Alder Lake have leaked out (Sisoft via TumApisak) and show a 33% increase in EU count as compared to the existing flagship. Interestingly, it looks like Intel has not decided to double down on integrated graphics (compared to TigerLake) for example based on this data. While TGL features 96 EUs (for a total of 768 shading processors), Alder Lake CPUs will feature an iGPU with 32 EUs (for a total of 256 shading processors). Of course, I would still urge the tiniest bit of salt because it is possible that Sisoft is reading the core count incorrectly due to a new design.

Intel Alder Lake CPUs will feature 32 EUs likely based on next-gen Xe Graphics

This might be disappointing news for some (I know it is for me) since it means that the GPU will be less powerful than the Tiger Lake iGPU expected to launch next month but there is a silver lining (as always). It actually does make sense from a business perspective because anyone buying a high-end S-class core from Intel will be equipping that with a discrete GPU and a high-end onboard GPU will only increase costs for the customer. To put this in perspective, this is a strategy utilized by AMD processors that don't ship with an iGPU at all.

The iGPU itself is currently clocked at 500 MHz, which is something that I am sure will go up to 800 MHz to 1 GHz at the very least once drivers and revisions are finalized. Depending on the exact clock (800 MHz or 1 GHz), the iGPU will have a performance level of around 0.5 TFLOPs which is meager to say the least (but better than nothing). Considering this means that Intel is focusing on cost [opinion], I would also hazard a guess that the company will be slashing MSRP for its next generations lineup once again as it prepares to face off against AMD's formidable Zen-based CPUs.

Of course, the most interesting thing about the Alder Lake processors isn't going to be the iGPU or even the 10nm process - it's going to be the new big and small architectural design. This design coupled will allow the company to increase power efficiency significantly without trading away raw performance and will be the perfect architecture for mobility.

Tiger Lake's successor will have at least 128 EUs for some seriously impressive onboard power. The TGL iGPU has already EoL-ed NVIDIA's MX150 and 250 and trades blows with the 350 and a successor could do the same for the upcoming MX450. Raja Koduri has already stated that the company plans to double performance every generation for the foreseeable future and the TGL successor should have twice the TFLOPs count as a result. Alder Lake's big and small cores coupled with Tiger Lake's successor's iGPU is where the real battle for integrated graphics is going to be fought.

Recap: Intel Alder Lake CPU configurations:

The desktop side of Alder Lake, called Alder Lake S will have up to 125W TDP and up to 8 big cores + 8 small cores. Depending on whether or not you can use all cores simultaneously, this is either an 8 core design or a 12-ish core equivalent design in terms of power. The presence of small, highly power-efficient cores will allow the company to reduce standby and idle power consumption as well as menial loads (like light browsing etc).

According to the data posted by the source, Alder Lake series platforms would be:

  • Alder Lake-S
    • 8 Big Cores + 8 Small Cores with a GT1 GPU
    • 6 Big Cores + 0 Small Cores with a GT1 GPU
  • Alder Lake-P
    • 2 Big Cores + 8 Small Cores with a GT2 GPU
    • 6 Big Cores + 8 Small Cores with a GT2 GPU
  • Alder Lake-M
    • 2 Big Cores + 8 Small Cores with a GT2 GPU

There is also an Alder Lake P which could probably stand for the Atom Server series if older Intel P series SKUs are any indication. Servers that have a highly dynamic workload (think servers that can scale client loads) would also benefit from this technology as it would make scaling between light and heavy workloads more power-efficient.

An Intel Alder Lake M is also in the works which is likely going to be the mobility series. This is the one we are most excited about. The presence of light cores would allow the company to extend the battery lives of laptops significantly as they would no longer have to engage the heavy cores for light tasks.

What do you think of Intel's approach to iGPU design on mainstream Alder Lake parts?
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