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The processors

Alder Lake - Hybrid Computing Architecture

It was time for a new architecture, created from the ground up with a hybrid design; meet Alder Lake, which you've probably already heard a lot about. They will also be the first to adopt a hybrid architecture, similar to ARM's BIG.little, that combines high-performance cores combined with efficient ones, making them the first of their kind for Intel. Furthermore, this new generation is now proven to be the first to support DDR5 memory (DDR4 compatible memory controllers as well) and PCI-Express 5.0, making it the first generation to do so. 


Rocket Lake-SAlder Lake-SRaptor Lake-SMeteor Lake-SLunar Lake-S
Launch Date March 30, 2021 Q4 2021 Q4 2022 2023 (?) 2024 (?)
Fabrication Node 14nm Intel 7 Intel 7 Intel 4 TBC
Core µArch Cypress Cove Golden Cove + Gracemont Raptor Cove + Gracemont Redwood Cove + Gracemont (?) TBC
Graphics µArch Gen12.1 Gen12.2 Gen12.2 Gen 12.7 Gen 13
Max Core Count up to 8 cores up to 16 (8C+8c) up to 24 (8C+16c) TBC TBC
Socket LGA1200 LGA1700 LGA1700 TBC TBC
Memory Support DDR4 DDR4/DDR5 DDR5 DDR5 DDR5
PCIe Gen PCIe 4.0 PCIe 5.0 PCIe 5.0 PCIe 5.0 PCIe 5.0
Intel Core Series 11th Gen Core-S 12th Gen Core-S 13th Gen Core-S 14th Gen Core-S 14th Gen Core-S
Motherboard Chipsets Intel 500 (Z590) Intel 600 (eg. Z690) Intel 700 (Z790) - -

Performance cores

Alder Lake will make use of Golden Cove CPU cores when speed and performance is critical. And these should make a significant difference in IPC when it comes to processing data compared to say Comet- and Rocket lake. Golden Cove CPU microarchitecture will take the place of the Sunny Cove, Willow Cove, and Cypress Cove microarchitectures, according to Intel. Originally described to as 10 nm Enhanced SuperFin, it will be made using Intel's Intel 7 manufacturing node, which was introduced in 2012. (10ESF). These high-performance cores will find their way into scalable processors such as Alder Lake and Xeon, as well as Sapphire Rapids. According to Intel, all of the enhancements combined should result in an improvement in IPC of 19 percent, which is on par with or slightly higher than the improvement achieved by Sunny Cove when compared to Skylake. That should even be sufficient to dethrone the Zen 3 architecture of the Ryzen 5000 CPUs.

  • 64KB per core Level 1 instruction cache
  • DDR5 memory
  • PCIe 5.0 support
  • Support for AVX, AVX2, and AVX-VNNI instructions
Below an overview of the processors.
processor P-Cores E-Cores core/thread L3 cache P-Core Base/Max Turbo/Max Turbo 3.0 Clock (GHz) E-Core Base/Full Max Turbo Clock (GHz) Unlocked TDP PL1 TDP PL2 IGP
Intel Core i9-12900K 8 8 16/24 30MB 3.2 / 5.1 / 5.2 2.4 / 3.9 Y 125W 241W Y
Intel Core i9-12900KF 8 8 16/24 30MB 3.2 / 5.1 / 5.2 2.4 / 3.9 Y 125W 241W -
Intel Core i9-12900 8 8 16/24 30MB 2.4 / 5.0 / 5.1 1.8 / 3.8 65W 202W Y
Intel Core i9-12900F 8 8 16/24 30MB 2.4 / 5.0 / 5.1 1.8 / 3.8 65W 202W -
Intel Core i7-12700K 8 4 12/20 25MB 3.6 / 4.9 / 5.0 2.7 / 3.8 Y 125W 190W Y
Intel Core i7-12700KF 8 4 12/20 25MB 3.6 / 4.9 / 5.0 2.7 / 3.8 Y 125W 190W -
Intel Core i7-12700 8 4 12/20 25MB 2.1 / 4.8 / 4.9 1.6 / 3.7 65W 180W Y
Intel Core i7-12700F 8 4 12/20 25MB 2.1 / 4.8 / 4.9 1.6 / 3.7 65W 180W -
Intel Core i5-12600K 6 4 10/16 20MB 3.7/4.9/- 2.8 / 3.6 Y 125W 150W Y
Intel Core i5-12600KF 6 4 10/16 20MB 3.7/4.9/- 2.8 / 3.6 Y 125W 150W -
Intel Core i5-12600 6 0 6/12 18MB 3.3/4.8/- - 65W 117W Y
Intel Core i5-12500 6 0 6/12 18MB 3.0 / 4.6 / - - 65W 117W Y
Intel Core i5-12400 6 0 6/12 18MB 2.5 / 4.4 / - - 65W 117W Y
Intel Core i5-12400F 6 0 6/12 18MB 2.5 / 4.4 / - - 65W 117W -
Intel Core i3-12300 4 0 4/8 12MB 3.5 / 4.4 / - - 60W 89W Y
Intel Core i3-12100 4 0 4/8 12MB 3.3/4.3/- - 60W 89W Y
Intel Core i3-12100F 4 0 4/8 12MB 3.3/4.3/- - 60W 89W Y
Pentium Gold G7400 2 0 2/4 6MB 3.7 / - / - - 46W - Y
Celeron G6900 2 0 2/4 4MB 3.4 / - / - - 46W - Y

While the pricing for Alder Lake non-K CPUs appears to be quite favorable, their success will also be contingent on the cost of the H670, B660, and H610 motherboards. Additionally, it will be interesting to observe AMD's reaction to the new Alder Lake processors. AMD's Ryzen 5000 (Zen 3) had dominated the market before Alder Lake arrived and stole the show, but a slight price decrease might reintroduce Ryzen.

A full Alder Lake-S will processor can include 8 Golden Cove cores and 8 Gracemont cores. It will be manufactured utilizing Intel's Intel 7 technology, which was previously known as the Intel 10 nm Enhanced SuperFin process. As previously stated, Alder Lake-S will have 8 Golden Cove cores, which are high-performance cores, and 8 Gracemont cores, which are high-efficiency cores. Due to the fact that Gracemont cores do not support Hyper-Threading (HT), Alder Lake-S will only be able to provide 16 cores and 24 threads, which is the same as the i9-12900K configuration.


  • Further information: Golden Cove (microarchitecture) and Gracemont (microarchitecture)
  • Golden Cove high-performance CPU cores
  • New instruction set extensions[6]
  • Gracemont high-efficiency CPU cores
  • Next-generation hardware scheduler; adding support for these advanced scheduling capabilities will require Microsoft to add support for them to x86-64 Windows.


  • Intel Xe (Gen12.2) GPU


  • New LGA 1700 socket
  • PCI Express 5.0
  • DDR5 memory support for desktop CPUs
  • LPDDR5 memory support for laptop CPUs
  • DMI 4.0 x8 link with Intel 600 series PCH chipsets 

The integrated graphics is based on Xe, and it has up to 96 EUs for the GPU and 32 EUs for media functions only, according to the manufacturer. For a fully equipped processor, you'll receive eight performance cores as well as eight energy-efficient cores; the performance cores have SMT (hyper-threading), which means you'll end up with a total of 24 CPU threads for the fully enabled processor. In the following chapters, we'll dive into greater depth about architecture.

DDR5 Memory subsystem

Following the release of Intel's new generation of desktop processors, it is now the turn of the memory to catch up with the processor. Alder Lake not only supports the well-known ddr4 memory standard, but it also supports the more recent ddr5 memory standard. Several firms have already demonstrated their DIMMs often with transfer rates as high as 8,400 MT/s per second, in addition to the conventional ddr5-4800 modules with case latency 40 and capacities as high as 8, 16, and 32GB per DIMM. There is support for on-die error correction code, as well as XMP Profile 3.0, which makes overclocking more straightforward. Using the new generation, the power feed has been relocated from the motherboard to the power management integrated circuit, also known as the pmic, which is located on the module itself.  Intel continues to list memory at the JEDEC specification level, implying that it is unable to go any further. DDR4 memory operates at 3200 MHz, while DDR5 memory operates at 4800 MHz by default. You can already see that the memory bandwidth is likely to rise dramatically with DDR5 technology. So support at JEDEC defaults is Dual Channel PC5-38400U (DDR5-4800) or PC4-25600U (DDR4-3200). New and included in DDR5 is XMP 3.0, in total 5, but up to three manufacturer timing and frequency profiles can now be stored inside the DIMM. However, 2 remaining profiles can be configured and written by the end user. meaning if you can find a sweet spot for your memory (frequency, timings, and voltage wise) you can store that profile to SPD. 

PCI Express 3.0, 4.0 and 5.0

Alder Lake will enable PCI Express 5.0, which will more than double the bandwidth available from Gen 4, reaching a whopping 64 GB/s over 16 lanes, as predicted by rumors and now confirmed by Intel. Comparatively, PCIe Gen 3.0 (which is fast) can carry 16 GB/s across 16 lanes. Interconnects will be required to connect everything together. AMD refers to this as the infinity fabric, whereas Intel refers to it as the compute fabric; two distinct names for the same concept. The DMI interface between CPU and chipset also has received a massive upgrade to DMI 4.0, 16GT/s (PCIe 4.0 x8).

The chipsets

The most expensive chipset for motherboards of course is the Z690 chipset, which is the highest-end model released first. The CPU has 16 (or 2 times 8 PCIe 5.0 lanes), which can be used for graphics or storage, in addition to four NVME 4.0 lanes. What was previously said appears to be correct; the chipset has 12 times gen4 and 16 times gen3 processors. Additional features include support for two DIMMs per memory channel and dual-channel DDR4-3200 or DDR5-4800 with two DIMMs per memory channel.


  • Supports both DDR4 and DDR5, with standard data rates of at least DDR5-4800 compliant on four-module configurations.
  • Will automatically use Gear 2 or Gear 4 modes for DDR5, running the memory controller at ½ or ¼ speed, depending on data rate.
  • Retains 20 CPU PCIe lanes, but 16 of those are increased to PCIe 5.0 data rates.
  • Uses DMI 4.0 to connect the CPU to the PCH (chipset) at PCIe 4.0 x8 speeds.
  • New PCH has four more PCIe lanes, including 12 PCIe 4.0 and 16 PCIe 3.0.
  • Supports up to four USB 3.2 2×2 (20Gb/s) ports.
  • New CNVio modules support Intel Wi-Fi 6E, and possibly Wi-Fi 7.
  • Uses “Big-Bigger” hybrid cores to improve thread handling while retaining 125W TDP.
  • Lower stack height requires new CPU cooler bracket.



The specifications for the H670, B660, and H610 motherboards then. The H670 chipset is a step down from the Z690. The majority of the fundamental functionality remains unchanged, including support for DDR4 and DDR5. The H670 chipset does not support CPU overclocking, which is impossible to do without very effective cooling. Fortunately, the H670 preserves the memory overclocking capability. Because the DMI link remains at 8x, manufacturers will be able to create H670 boards with up to four or five M.2 slots. The USB count is dimmed down, as the H670's USB 3.0 count is significantly lower than that of the Z690. Naturally, due to the huge number of PCIe lanes available on the chipset, board manufacturers are free to integrate auxiliary USB controllers. Certain H670 boards are expected to be priced rather high, making them formidable entry/mid-range Z690 competitors.

The B660 is the chipset that the majority of do-it-yourselfers on a budget will consider. In comparison to the Z690, it loses the ability to overclock the CPU but retains the ability to overclock the memory. It features one PCIe 5.0 slot, which implies very little at the moment—likely it's that support for PCIe 5.0 will be optional or limited to high-end machines. So expect most motherboards to support PCIe Gen 4.0 atd default. Due to the fact that the DMI link is only 4x compared to the Z690 or H670, board makers are unlikely to add more than two or three M.2 slots. The USB count decreases slightly from H670.

B660 appears to have a set of specifications that will satisfy the vast majority of the market. You can use a high-performance CPU such as the Core i5 12600K and any GPU you choose, as well as a fast NVMe SSD or two and several hard disk drives for storage. We may anticipate that high-end B660 boards will cost more than their entry-level Z690 equivalents, particularly those equipped with a powerful VRM, enough heatsinks, and Wi-Fi 6E. Certain B660 boards should end up providing a well-balanced core feature set and excellent value for money.

H610 appears to be a relatively entry-level model. There is still a PCIe 5.0 slot, which is surprising, as well as DDR5 support, but there is no PCIe 4.0 slot, which means your NVMe SSD will work at PCIe 3.0 speeds only. It significantly reduces expansion potential, with only eight total PCIe 3.0 lanes on the chipset. Additionally, the number of USB 3.0 ports is limited. H610 boards are supposed to be affordable, and as long as the VRMs are not heatsink-less trash, they should be capable of performing well in entry-level systems.

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