The upcoming, next-generation Intel Alder Lake CPU has been pictured in all its glory and the Z690 chipset has been detailed (courtesy of Videocardz). Videocardz (via Performance Inquisitor) mentions that the processor pictured is an engineering sample but it looks like a confidential press sample to us (which, unlike an engineering sample, is the final revision of the silicon and is read by the BIOS with the retail name of the CPU and not as Intel 0000).
Intel Alder Lake pictured and Z690 chipset leaked
The 12th generation Intel Alder Lake CPUs will feature 16 lanes of PCIe 5.0 (which can be bifurcated in either a 1×16 design or a 2×8 design. The chipset plan appears to suggest that only Intel SSDs will be able to support this lane. DDR4 and DDR4 are also natively supported with a total of two channels (2 DIMMs per channel), which is standard in the mainstream segment of motherboards. Interestingly, Intel is going with the Intel UHD graphics nomenclature as opposed to Xe (which might be an attempt to bifurcate their high-end graphics efforts away from the low-end iGPUs).
4x PCIe 4.0 lanes for a PCIe 4.0 SSD or Intel Optane memory are also present with up to three HDMI or DisplayPorts support coming from the CPU. An x8 DMI 4.0 link connects the CPU to the chipset. Now coming to the chipset side, up to 12 lanes of PCIe 4.0 and up to 16 lanes of PCIe 3.0 will be provided with the platform. 6x SATA 6 GB/s ports will also be present with up to 4x USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 ports, 10x USB 3.2 Gen 2×1 ports, 10x USB 3.2 Gen1x1 ports and 16x USB 2.0 ports.
Intel 5G base-T MAC/PHY Ethernet connection will be provided with a Intel integrated 10/100/1000 MAC connected to an ethernet connection over PCIe x1 and SMBus. Intel Platform Trust Technology (critical for Windows 11) is also present. Intel Optane Memory support and Intel Smart Sound technology support is also provided through the chipset. ntel RAID for PCIe Storage and Intel Wifi 6E/7 AX211 represent the high end of connectivity on Alder Lake as well.
Recap on Intel Alder Lake
Intel’s Alder Lake will be built using the company’s new E and P cores, you can read the architectural deep dive over here, and represent a significant evolution in the company’s power efficiency targets. It will be built on the Intel 7 process and scale from 9 watts to 125 watts. DDR5 and PCIe gen5 will be supported (first to market) and feature new technologies like the Intel Thread Director.
Alder Lake will be fully scalable from Desktop (LGA1700) to ultra mobile. Interestingly however, while the platform has 8 P-cores and 8 E-cores, only the P-cores will support hyper threading making for a total of 24 threads available. The integrated GPU will have 96 EUs of Xe architecture (good but nothing to write home about) but the thing that impressed us the most was the fact that Intel is claiming a 19% IPC uplift over Rocketlake – which should handily beat AMD parts if true.
Rocketlake delivered 19% IPC uplift over Skylake as well but Skylake is almost a decade old architecture and Intel can repeat that trick again with Alder Lake, it should be able to beat AMD Ryzen parts core for core. That said, considering Ryzen parts have higher core counts on the mainstream side (16 performance cores), AMD should still retain the absolute performance crown until Intel roles out high core count parts with this architecture.
Alder Lake will feature up to 30 MB of non inclusive LL Cache and support DDR5-4800, LP5-5200 along with DDR4-3200 and LP4x-4266. It will also support two times the PCIe bandwidth thanks to its support of PCIe 5 and will be able to provide up to 16 lanes of PCIe Gen5 with up to 64 GB/s. The new design is fully modular and built like lego and should be completely scalable and flexible. The compute fabric interconnect has a bandwidth of 1000 GB/s while the IO fabric has a BW of 64 GB/s. The memory subsystem supports up to 204 GB/s but more importantly can scale memory frequency (and power) according to the need of the SoC.
Intel Alder Lake will be landing later this year in 2021 and should be able to win back the mobility performance and power efficiency crown from AMD. It might also be able to take the war to Apple’s M1 silicon although we expect AMD to retain the absolute performance count for now.