Intel Announces 12th Gen Core "Alder Lake" CPUs, Linux Tests Forthcoming

Written by Michael Larabel in Processors on 27 October 2021. Page 1 of 2. 39 Comments

Intel is using their inaugural Intel Innovation virtual event today to formally announce the highly-anticipated 12th Gen Core "Alder Lake" processors. These first desktop processors built on their "Intel 7" process and employ a hybrid architecture will be available in retail channels next week. Today we can talk more about Alder Lake specifications and features while our Linux performance benchmarks and support analysis will come once the Alder Lake review embargo expires next week.

While there have been many Alder Lake leaks in recent weeks/months and a number of features disclosed back during Architecture Day, today marks the official unveil for the next-gen Intel Core processors. This is a very exciting transition as they have now shifted to their Intel 7 manufacturing process, the hybrid architecture provides a combination of high performance and low power cores depending upon needs, and Intel is at the forefront now in delivering DDR5 memory and PCIe 5.0 to the masses. When it comes to performance, Intel claims Alder Lake can deliver up to two times the performance of prior generation processors for content creation workloads. Meanwhile when it comes to the generational performance uplift for the P (Performance) cores it's said to be around 19%.

The processors being launched today from the 12th Gen line-up are the Core i5 12600KF, Core i5 12600K, Core i7 12700KF, Core i7 2700K, Core i9 12900KF, and Core i9 12900K. The flagship Core i9 12900K is a 16 core (8 P + 8 E cores) in a 24 thread configuration (the E cores lacking Hyper Threading), a 30MB L3 cache and 14MB L2 cache, a TBM 3.0 Boost Max clock of 5.2GHz, a 3.2GHz P-core base frequency, UHD Graphics 770, and support for either DDR4-3200 or DDR5-4800. The Core i9 12900K has a 128W base power consumption and 241W maximum turbo power rating. The Core i9 12900K is hitting retail channels at around $589 USD.

Intel claims Alder Lake is their biggest architectural shift in a decade, which isn't that surprising when considering the years of Skylake-derived 14nm processors.

One of the new features for dealing with the hybrid architecture is Intel Thread Director. While built into the processor, Intel's presentations did continue to talk up the Windows 11 integration for helping to optimize the performance. As of writing, Intel has not yet provided any Linux kernel patches/optimizations around Thread Director. So stay tuned to my Linux review of the Core i9 12900K next week for learning more about any penalties or issues in running 12th Gen Core processors under Linux.

There is also a new cache architecture with Alder Lake, improved UHD graphics continuing to build on the Gen12 Xe architecture, and more. From the platform perspective it's exciting to have DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 available with new Intel motherboards. Some Alder Lake motherboards will continue to offer DDR4 memory slots, but like some of the older motherboards back in the day for prior transitions, DDR4 and DDR5 cannot be used simultaneously on the same system/motherboard. If not already aware, Alder Lake uses LGA-1700 and will require a new motherboard with Intel introducing the Z690 chipset as part of today's 12th Gen Core launch.

Removed with Alder Lake is AVX-512... While appearing with the Rocket Lake line-up, none of the Alder Lake processors will have AVX-512 capabilities enabled.

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