Intel announces 12th-gen Alder Lake CPUs: Our long 14 nm nightmare is over. When does the next intel processor come out

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A more subjective claim is that Alder Lake is “the world’s best mobile gaming platform.” While it’s capable of playing 4K, and benchmarks suggest it provides an excellent experience, the actual usage will determine how good the 12th generation chips really are.

Intel announces 12th-gen Alder Lake CPUs: Our long 14 nm nightmare is over

Andrew Cunningham – October 28, 2021 18:00 UTC


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Intel’s 11th generation desktop processors, codenamed Rocket Lake, did not impress us much. These were the sixth Intel processor architecture based on some version of Intel’s 14nm manufacturing process, and the first to not use the 2015 venerable Skylake core iteration.

Further Reading

They have improved performance, usually by porting features from newer and faster processor architectures. But when you add features without tweaking the manufacturing process, you get exactly what Rocket Lake delivered: a CPU that’s slightly faster, but also much hotter, with much higher power consumption than previous 10th Gen Intel or AMD Ryzen 5000 Series processors, with they compete with.

Now Intel is trying to correct the course in the form of its 12th generation core processors codenamed Alder Lake. The first six processors in this line are now available for pre-order and will be available from November 4.

The new chips are the first Intel desktop processors (other than servers) to be produced in some versions of the company using 10nm technology, but you won’t see “10nm” in any of Intel’s marketing material or product pages. The process formerly known as “10 nm Enhanced SuperFin” is now called “Intel 7” as the company says its transistor density will be comparable to that of competing foundries such as TSMC and Samsung. Intel announced an updated naming scheme for manufacturing processes earlier this year.

A new chapter for Intel’s desktop CPUs

Further Reading

Alder Lake signals a significant change in the lineup of Intel processors. All of the 12th Generation Core chips announced today contain a combination of “high performance” and “high performance” cores, also known as P and E cores per core and high single-threaded performance. The e-cores can wake up to help with heavily threaded workloads, but are generally designed to handle background tasks, don’t support hyper-threading, and are arranged in quad-core clusters with 2MB shared L2 cache per cluster.


The initial offering includes three processor options that are offered with and without integrated graphics for a total of six processors. The top-of-the-line i9-12900K features eight P cores and eight E cores, and integrated graphics for $ 589. The i7-12700K still has eight P cores, but shrinks to four E cores and costs $ 409. The i5-12600K midrange carries six P cores and four E cores for $ 289. For the price of any non-GPU variant of KF processors, subtract $ 25.

The mix of cores means that the ratio of cores to threads is different to what we are used to with typical Intel and AMD processors. You get two threads per P core, but only one thread per E core, so for example a 16-core i9-12900K has 24 threads instead of 32.

Single-threaded P and E core performance compared to Intel

Single-thread P and E core boost / performance compared to 10th generation Intel desktop processors.

The pricing of these processors and more cores will help Intel better compete with AMD for multi-threaded workloads – AMD will sell a 12-core, 24-thread Ryzen 9 5900X processor for around $ 560 and a 16-core, 32-thread 5950X for $ 750. Intel’s testing tends to avoid comparing Alder Lake processors to AMD processors in multithreaded tasks, preferring instead to advertise more favorable comparisons with a thermally loaded 8-core, 16-thread i9-11900K. But the improved performance of Alder Lake’s P cores and the additional number of E cores should at least help reduce the gap.

To put the P and E cores in context, Intel compared the single-threaded performance of both to the 10th Generation Comet Lake cores, the latest iteration of Skylake for desktop. Operating at the same clock rate, the Generation 12 core is approximately 28% faster than the Generation 10 core, while the E core is roughly equivalent to the Generation 10 core. Intel says E cores can deliver performance equal to Skylake by consuming just 40 percent of the energy.

The announcement of the laptop versions of Intel

Enlarge / View laptop versions of Intel 12th generation processors, with a laptop version with a 6P / 8E core and an ultra-mobile version with a 2P / 8E core.

In this article, we will focus on the 13th-gen “Raptor Lake” processors, although it is not yet clear whether they will contain laptop chips as well as the already rumored desktop processors. Either way, here’s everything you need to know in this early stage.

Expected 12th- and 13th-gen SKUs

Alder Lake – Intel’s twelfth generation, expected in November 2021 – will significantly shift the design balance towards performance, and the i9-12900K is expected to offer eight high-performance Golden Cove cores and eight high-performance Gracemont cores. Golden Cove cores support hyperthreading, but Gracemont cores do not, resulting in a core / thread count curve – for example, 16 cores / 24 threads for the expected i9-12900K.

According to rumors leaked by AdoredTV, Raptor Lake will continue to develop and expand the Alder Lake project, replacing Raptor Cove’s Golden Cove performance cores and improving Gracemont’s performance core design. We also expect the core count to increase from Alder Lake to Raptor Lake, with an expected 24-core / 32-thread i9-13900K in 2022 if all goes well.

Power consumption is one of the key details in most of these rumors, with three major classes of power consumption expected for both Alder and Raptor Lake desktop processors – at 35W, 65W and 125W TDP. We can take a look at the predicted number of enthusiast cores (all of which are expected to reach 125W TDP) below, when compared with the current generation Rocket Lake-S processors:

Rocket Lake-S (11th Generation Desktop Processors)
Model Cores TDP (PL1)
i5-11600K 6p / 0e 125W
i7-11700K 8p / 0e 125W
i9-11900K 8p / 0e 125W
Alder Lake-S (12th generation of desktop processors)
Model Cores TDP (PL1)
i5-12600K 6p / 4e 125W
i7-12700K 8p / 4e 125W
i9-12900K 8p / 8e 125W
Raptor Lake-S (13th generation desktop processors)
Model Cores TDP (PL1)
i5-13600K 6p / 8e 125W
i7-13700K 8p / 8e 125W
i9-13900K 8p / 16e 125W

Further Reading

Both Alder Lake and Raptor Lake are expected to use Intel’s 10nm process that consumers have seen only in mobile processors so far. The Rocket Lake-S was originally expected to be built at 10nm, but was ultimately built on Intel’s venerable 14nm process with “backported features” from a 10nm process that was still not ready for (stationary) prime time.

Power and performance

The key finding is that while Intel is significantly increasing the number of cores, it only does so by adding performance cores – the performance cores are expected to remain unchanged at 6, 8 and 8 for Core i5, Core i7 and the Core i9 family respectively.

Intel seems to be counting on adding high-performance cores to become a bit more competitive in multi-threaded workloads without repeating AMD’s catastrophic failure in the Piledriver era – that is, trying to compete with raw performance, creating a power-consuming monstrosity that no one wants to live with. Of course, a few elephants filling the room ignore this.

In terms of performance, it seems unlikely that the i9-12900K with a total of 16 cores will compete well with its closest AMD counterpart. The current generation of Ryzen 9 5950x already offers 16 cores – and all 16 are high-performance cores. The Ryzen 9 5900X has “only” 12 cores – but again, all 12 are performance cores. We’re not sure yet what Team Red has in store for its next generation, but we’re certainly not expecting a core drop.

In terms of power consumption, we are only looking at the Intel PL1 TDP – TDP indicator needed to turn off the turbo system. We think it’s too early to make the PL2 rumors of Alder and Rocket Lake credible, but we know that Rocket Lake-S “125W TDP” parts can easily reach 200W or more when running at turbo frequencies.

Anandtech shows a peak TDP of up to 300W for the i9-11900K, and even the i5-11600K reaches 210W – while AMD’s peak, power consumption during recharging remains below 150W on the 12-core Ryzen 9 5900X and 16-core 5950X.

While it’s included in many of our premium options, you’ll find touchscreen variants across the entire line of HP Specter laptops. Some come standard with a touchscreen while others are optional as part of the upgraded setup.

Intel Raptor Lake spec rumours

With so long to a potential release, rumors of Raptor Lake Concrete are relatively rare. This could prove to be a relatively unprofitable take-off as Alder Lake in 2021 will bring significant changes to the design ahead of its potential 7nm shift at Meteor Lake in 2023.

Wholesale changes to Intel’s silicon chip are relatively rare, so you’d be surprised to see too many big improvements to Raptor Lake. Alder Lake is already moving to a new design, with a mix of performance and energy-saving cores, meaning existing motherboards are no longer compatible, meaning Intel won’t change everything after one generation. We also expect Intel to finally move to 10nm in 2021, but Raptor Lake is likely to come too early at 7nm.

Aside from speculating based on where it fits Intel’s lineup, the main rumor so far comes courtesy of VideoCardz. He has posted what appears to be the official blueprint for the company’s upcoming launches, along with some key features:

Intel road map

Image: VideoCardz

When introduced in 2021, it suggests that there will be some subtle changes to the new hybrid core system to improve performance. It’s unclear what this will mean – Intel may not know it yet. Raptor Lake is also rumored to be there when the company switches to LPDDR5X – a next-generation RAM solution that was launched in late 2020. Finally, the introduction of the new DLVR power delivery system should allow Raptor Lake to better optimize the output power depending on the situation – this would lead to better performance and therefore battery life.

In addition to the same changes for the hybrid processor, the laptop-centric version of Raptor Lake will apparently also introduce an improved gaming cache and a new feature set for Intel vPro. The latter is a corporate platform that offers a range of features tailored to the needs of business users, including top performance, remote management, and advanced security.

While it sounds convincing and quite realistic, it’s worth noting that the chart still shows Rocket Lake as being from 2020, even though it arrived in March 2021. This suggests that this plan is at least a few months out of date and the situation may have changed much since then.

The full lineup of Raptor Lake processors has just leaked, courtesy of the Adored TV YouTube channel. It was accompanied by the following diagram, showing the low-power, mainstrain and enthusiast chips:

Intel Raptor Lake line leak

Photo: AdoredTV

Key applications include a maximum of 24 cores and 32 threads on high-end Core i9 processors, while budget Pentium chips will be limited to 4 cores and 4 threads.

35W, 65W and 125W power requirements have already been reported from sites like Igor’s Lab in Germany – they are similar to Alder Lake. Reporting this news, Wccftech is suggesting that the existing LGA 1700 socket will continue to be served by Raptor Lake.

While we should always take them with a grain of salt, Raptor Lake’s early benchmarks make reading disturbing. Now the deleted result recorded on BAPCo Crossmark has been screenshot by Tom’s Hardware and seems to show the high-end Raptor Lake (1591) CPU lagging behind the top Core i9-12900K (2376) and the flagship Ryzen 9 5950X (1694)) in the results general.

To name a few, the new ThinkBooks, Lenovo ThinkPads X1, Legion gaming laptops, and Yoga convertibles will receive 12th Gen Intel processors, as will MSI Creator and gaming laptops. Acer, HP, ASUS and Dell also have new laptops with the latest Intel developments.


Intel says its new P cores have an average performance gain of 19% over the previous generation at the same clock speed. However, like all manufacturers’ performance claims, Intel undoubtedly chose these tests to make Alder Lake look as favorable as possible, and therefore should be treated with some skepticism.

Until the architecture is released, no verifiable third-party testing will be available, but there are performance and gaming test leaks for the Core i9-12900K. In the Ashes of the Singularity test, paired with the RTX 3080, the Intel component delivers 1.4x higher FPS than AMD’s Ryzen 9 5950X. The same processor in the Cinebench R20 has achieved an impressive multi-core score of over 30,000.

While the Core i5-12600K is not as powerful as its larger, more expensive, brother is also not humpbacked and outperforms the AMD Ryzen 5 5600X in both single and multi-threaded CPU-Z tests. However, like Intel’s performance claims, these results are questionable until we can test them ourselves.

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While it doesn’t confirm anything specific, it would be highly unlikely that Intel would have this kind of documentation ready, unless it was planning to release soon. Given Intel’s busy 2021 year, it’s unlikely it will come this year, but 2022 seems likely.

What’s so good about 12th Gen Intel mobile CPUs?

12th Generation Intel H Series Scooters

source: Intel

Intel’s 12th generation mobile chips are divided into three different categories. There is the powerful H 45 W series, the modest P 28 W series and the energy-saving U 15 W series. These mobile processors use Intel’s big.LITTLE hybrid design with high-performance (P) and high-performance (E) cores. It is similar to pioneering ARM chips, mixing single-threaded high-performance cores for low-priority tasks with multi-threaded cores efficient for everything else.

H-series chips are reserved for gaming laptops, developers, and workstations. There are eight processors here, from the Core i5-12450H to the mighty Core i9-12900HK with 14 cores (6 P cores and 8 E cores) and a frequency of 5 GHz. These H-series chips are more efficient than ever, plus support for DDR5, PCIe 4.0, Thunderbolt 4, and Wi-Fi 6E RAM.

12th Generation Intel P Series Scooters

source: Intel

Intel’s P-series consists of seven processors, ranging from Core i3-1220P to Core i7-1280P. These chips are designed for thin and light laptops that require more performance than the average U-series processor can handle. The I7-1280P can specifically deliver 14 cores, 20 threads and a 4.8 GHz clock at a base TDP of 28W (up to 64W after strengthening).

The new XPS 13 Plus from Dell includes Intel P-series chips; keep an eye out for it spring 2022.

Intel 12th generation buyers from the U2 seriesSkusy Intel 12th generation U1 series

Intel’s 12th generation U-series processors complete the portfolio of mobile devices for use in low-cost laptops and next-generation designs (such as foldable PCs). There are 10 chips here, ranging from Core i3-1210U to Core i7-1265U. The I7-1265U really isn’t humpbacked, with 10 cores, 12 threads and a 4.8 GHz clock at a 15W base and 55W boost.

Dell XPs 13 Plus rendering

Incredible Ultrabook : Dell XPS 13 Plus

The XPS 13 Plus, due to be launched in spring 2022, offers an improved keyboard with capacitive touch buttons on the top row, a new touchscreen touchpad that is invisible along the palm rests, an improved camera, and more. It is powered by 12th generation Intel P-series mobile chips.

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These processors go great with NVIDIA’s RTX 3060 GPU

Got an NVIDIA RTX 3060 graphics processor? Do you need a processor for this? Whether you prefer Intel or AMD, we’ve got a ton of great options here.

This RAM will go well with your new Intel Core i9-12900K

Whether it’s regular DDR4 RAM or the newest (and rarest) DDR5 RAM, these options will pair well with an Intel Core i9-12900K processor.

This is the best RAM to accompany your Intel Core i7-12700K

Got a new 12th Gen Intel Core i7-12700K processor? Need a new memory that can keep up? Introducing the best DDR4 and DDR5 RAM options.

Intel’s 12th generation processors represent a shift in the company’s approach to processor design. It describes Alder Lake as a “hybrid” architecture, with the new Alder chips featuring a combination of “P cores” and “E cores” instead of the standard homogeneous core layout we are used to in previous generations.

How much do Intel Alder Lake CPUs cost?

Unlike laptops, many people buy Alder Lake desktop processors themselves – this makes prices much more appropriate. Here’s what you can expect for all the chips we’ve seen so far in the US, along with rough UK conversions:

  • Core i9-12900K – $ 589 (about £ 430)
  • Core i9-12900KF – $ 564 (about £ 410)
  • Core i7-12700K – $ 409 (around £ 300)
  • Core i7-12700KF – $ 384 (around £ 280)
  • Core i5-12600K – $ 289 (about £ 210)
  • Core i5-12600KF – $ 264 (about £ 190)

These are only recommended prices, so you can pay more or less depending on the seller you choose. The prices of the 22 new processors announced at CES 2022 have yet to be disclosed.

Intel Alder Lake specs & features

Alder Lake is making big changes to Intel’s silicon. These are the first processors to go beyond the 14nm process the company introduced in 2015. The new 10nm process has been renamed Intel 7 as part of a new Architecture Roadmap announced in July 2021.

Desktop CPUs

Intel has also changed the structure of its processors to be more compatible with ARM-based chips (including Apple’s M1 series). There is now a mix of performance and energy-saving cores, rather than focusing solely on creating the most powerful chip possible. This hybrid model should allow devices to maintain performance over a longer period of time as well as extend battery life. After disappointing reviews of the 11th Generation Rocket Lake chips, this change is welcome.

Intel Alder Lake

Image: Intel

However, as expected, you’ll need a new motherboard. Here’s Intel’s new Z690, although an upgraded cooler may also be needed to support the LG 1700 socket. You get at least Wi-Fi 6E and USB 3.2 Gen 2 for high-speed data transfer. Thunderbolt 4 support also remains.

There are also encouraging signals from Alder Lake’s first real gaming test, even though the CPU has been paired with the latest Nvidia RTX GPUs and DDR5 memory to maximize performance. As noted by the German website Computerbase, the CapFrameX test of the web-based strategy game Dota suggests that Alder Lake can max FPS above 549, averaging over 120 FPS. However, we do not know what resolution or settings were used when recording these numbers.

If you’re a desktop user and considering high-end CPUs, Alder Lake’s latest benchmarks compare favorably with AMD’s equivalent chips. According to Twitter leaked @OneRaichu, the early model of the top Core i9-12900K excels in tests using the Cinebench R20 software:

12900KS QS Non-OC
In the water cooler.
Cinebench R20.
ST:> 810
MT:> 11600

– Raichu (@OneRaichu) July 20, 2021

The processor in question here was placed in a water cooler to prevent overheating, with another tweet confirming that the extra “S” was a bug. According to Guru3D, it performs significantly better than the Ryzen 9 5950X (AMD’s current flagship processor) in both single-threaded (26%) and multi-threaded (11%) modes. A lot can change between now and the end product, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Since their launch, we’ve seen some impressive benchmarks of Alder Lake processors, most notably the Core i7-12700H. The Geekbench 5 results suggest it is almost as powerful as AMD’s high-end Ryzen 9 5900X, while Cinebench’s multi-core results put it ahead of the Ryzen 9 5900HX and Apple M1 Max – according to testing by NotebookCheck.

Mobile CPUs

In total, we expect 60 processors from Intel’s 12th generation range. In addition to the 28 desktop processors announced so far, 28 new mobile chips are also available. They will be available on many key laptops in 2022 and beyond.

They are divided into three different categories. The first is Alder Lake-H, designed for enthusiast-level devices. Here is a summary of what it offers:

Editor Performance cores Performance cores Threads L3 cache Maximum clock speed Basic power
i9-12900HK 6 8 twenty 24Mb 5.0 GHz 45W
i9-12900H 6 8 twenty 24Mb 5.0 GHz 45W
i7-12800H 6 8 twenty 24Mb 4.8 GHz 45W
i7-12700H 6 8 twenty 24Mb 4.7 GHz 45W
i7-12650H 6 4 16 24Mb 4.7 GHz 45W
i5-12600H 4 8 16 18Mb 4.5 GHz 45W
i5-12500H 4 8 16 18Mb 4.5 GHz 45W
i5-12450H 4 4 12 12Mb 4.4 GHz 45W
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