Intel Demos 12th Gen Alder Lake Desktop & Mobility CPUs With Hybrid Core Architecture & 10nm Enhanced SuperFin Process Node, Coming in 2H 2021

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During its CES 2021 virtual keynote, Intel EVP, Gregory Bryant, demoed a system based on its 12th Generation Alder Lake CPUs. Gregory not only unveiled the first powered-on system running Intel's Alder Lake CPU but also unveiled some key details which include architecture, process, and launch.

Intel's 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs Headed To Desktop & Mobility Platforms in 2H 2021, Will Feature Hybrid Core Architecture & Latest 10nm SuperFin Process Node

Intel confirmed that its 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs will be available on both Desktop & Mobility PC platforms. Following is what Intel had to say about Alder Lake:

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Intel demonstrated “Alder Lake,” the next-generation processor that represents a significant breakthrough in x86 architecture and Intel’s most power-scalable system-on-chip. Due in second half of 2021, Alder Lake will combine high-performance cores and high-efficiency cores into a single product. Alder Lake will also be Intel’s first processor built on a new, enhanced version of 10nm SuperFin and will serve as the foundation for leadership desktop and mobile processors that deliver smarter, faster and more efficient real-world computing. via Intel

Gregory also detailed that the Alder Lake CPUs will be based on two brand new core architectures from Intel. One core architecture will focus on high-performance while the other core architecture will focus on high efficiency. The CPUs will be fabricated on the enhanced 10nm SuperFin process node and feature much faster transistors so we can expect clock speeds to be pretty good as they are with 14nm right now (5 GHz+). Intel also confirms an improved MIM capacitor design that will help deliver higher efficiency and a more stable current to the CPUs.

Here's Everything We Know About The Next-Gen Alder Lake CPU Family

The Alder Lake CPUs are not only going to be the first desktop processor family to feature a 10nm process node but would also feature a new design methodology. From what we know so far, Intel plans to include a mix of CPU cores that are based on different IPs. The Alder Lake CPUs will come with standard high-performance 'Cove' cores and smaller yet efficient 'Atom' cores. This big.SMALL design methodology has been incorporated on smartphones for a while now but Alder Lake will be the first time we see it in action in the high-performance segment.

We don't have any specifics of which generation of 'Cove' or 'Atom' architecture Intel plans to utilize for its Alder Lake CPUs but their roadmap does point to Golden Cove and Gracemont architectures availability by 2021. It is possible that we would see these cores in actions first on the desktop CPU platform but would also be utilized in a Lakefield successor. You can learn more about the various Alder Lake SKU configurations here and here.

Following are some of the updates you should expect from Intel's 2021 architecture lineup:

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Intel Golden Cove (Core) Architecture:

  • Improve Single-Threaded Performance (IPC)
  • Improve Artificial Intelligence (AI) Performance
  • Improve Network/5G Performance
  • Enhanced Security Features

Intel Gracemont (Atom) Architecture:

  • Improve Single-Threaded Performance (IPC)
  • Improve Frequency (Clock Speeds)
  • Improve Vector Performance

The CPUs will be compatible with the LGA 1700 socket which has a much larger area footprint than LGA 1200. The package size for the chips is 45.0 x 37.5 mm whereas the existing LGA 1200 package is 37.5 x 37.5 mm. As for the demo unit itself, an undisclosed Intel Alder Lake CPU was running on a reference test platform that featured Intel's stock fan cooler and had two DIMMs operating next to it. There is no GPU attached so the platform was running off the Iris Xe GPU that will be featured on the Alder Lake CPUs. The DIMMs seem to be DDR5 but we cannot confirm this at the moment.

In addition to the chips, the LGA 1700 platform is said to feature the latest and brand new I/O tech such as support for DDR5 memory, PCIe 5.0, and new Thunderbolt / WiFi capabilities. While the chip design methodology isn't anything new as we have seen several SOCs feature similar core hierarchy, it would definitely be interesting to see a similar outing on a high-performance desktop CPU lineup.

Intel Desktop CPU Generations Comparison:

Intel CPU FamilyProcessor ProcessProcessors Cores (Max)TDPsPlatform ChipsetPlatformMemory SupportPCIe SupportLaunch
Sandy Bridge (2nd Gen)32nm4/835-95W6-SeriesLGA 1155DDR3PCIe Gen 2.02011
Ivy Bridge (3rd Gen)22nm4/835-77W7-SeriesLGA 1155DDR3PCIe Gen 3.02012
Haswell (4th Gen)22nm4/835-84W8-SeriesLGA 1150DDR3PCIe Gen 3.02013-2014
Broadwell (5th Gen)14nm4/865-65W9-SeriesLGA 1150DDR3PCIe Gen 3.02015
Skylake (6th Gen)14nm4/835-91W100-SeriesLGA 1151DDR4PCIe Gen 3.02015
Kaby Lake (7th Gen)14nm4/835-91W200-SeriesLGA 1151DDR4PCIe Gen 3.02017
Coffee Lake (8th Gen)14nm6/1235-95W300-SeriesLGA 1151DDR4PCIe Gen 3.02017
Coffee Lake (9th Gen)14nm8/1635-95W300-SeriesLGA 1151DDR4PCIe Gen 3.02018
Comet Lake (10th Gen)14nm10/2035-125W400-SeriesLGA 1200DDR4PCIe Gen 3.02020
Rocket Lake (11th Gen)14nm8/16TBA500-SeriesLGA 1200DDR4PCIe Gen 4.02021
Alder Lake (12th Gen)10nm16/24?TBA600 Series?LGA 1700DDR5PCIe Gen 5.0?2021
Meteor Lake (13th Gen)7nm?TBATBA700 Series?LGA 1700DDR5PCIe Gen 5.0?2022?
Lunar Lake (14th Gen)TBATBATBA800 Series?TBADDR5PCIe Gen 5.0?2023?
Which next-generation desktop CPUs are you looking forward to the most?
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