Highly anticipated: Intel is scrambling to get Alder Lake ready, but the company may only reveal the enthusiast grade CPUs in the new lineup at its upcoming event. The rest of the Alder Lake family will make an appearance at CES 2022, which isn't surprising when you consider that most people wouldn't have a reason to upgrade to the new platform with the current lack of DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 devices.
Details about Intel's upcoming 12th-gen Core CPUs have been scarce, but we do know that Chipzilla is scrambling to get it out into the wild as soon as possible, especially after the lukewarm Rocket Lake release. Intel even forgot to release graphics drivers for Rocket Lake CPUs, and had to adjust prices downward after making them available on the market, even as the chip shortage would dictate otherwise.
Earlier this week at the Intel Accelerated event, the company explained in broad strokes how it plans to advance its process technology over the next three years. Most notably, CEO Pat Gelsinger revealed that Intel is moving away from nanometer-based naming to provide "a more accurate view of process nodes across the industry."
This is Intel's way of making it clear that its 10nm process technology is mostly on par in terms of transistor density with 7nm process technology from the likes of TSMC and Samsung. And it's definitely not just a marketing ploy, as we've seen that Intel CPUs built using the company's 10nm SuperFin technology are quite competitive with AMD's Ryzen CPUs built on TSMC's 7nm process.
Gelsinger said the next big announcements will be made at an upcoming event in October 27. This is where Alder Lake is expected to be unveiled, but according to a report from Igor's Lab this could be focused on the high end, K and KF processors as well as Z690 motherboards. Other CPUs in the Alder Lake lineup are expected to make an appearance later, at CES 2022, along with H670, B660, and H610 chipsets.
The Intel Z690 chipset is expected to support both DDR4 and DDR5 memory, and there are rumors suggesting Alder Lake will be the first platform to support PCIe 5.0. That said, SSD and graphics card manufacturers have yet to come up with hardware that can take advantage of the new spec. Graphics cards have yet to push the limits of PCIe 4.0, and the first PCIe 5.0 SSD controllers won't be ready until next year.
Alder Lake will be Intel's first processors to arrive using a big.LITLE design similar to Arm's, which combines high-powered cores with energy-efficient ones. Intel pretty much confirmed that the new CPUs will be built on an enhanced 10nm SuperFin process node called Intel 7, which is supposed to offer 10 to 15 percent more performance-per-watt compared to the previous generation. Here's to hoping Rocket Lake wasn't made boring on purpose to make Alder Lake look like a big upgrade, but even if that's the case we're still excited to see what Intel has in store with this new architecture.