Intel's 11th Gen desktop CPUs, known by their code name 'Rocket Lake', have just been announced. Aimed primarily at gamers and desktop enthusiasts, these CPUs are based on a new 'Cypress Cove' core architecture and many of them feature more powerful integrated Intel Xe graphics capabilities including AI acceleration. Interestingly, 'Rocket Lake' marks a major departure from the iterative 14nm CPU refreshes that Intel has been releasing for the past five years as it struggles with 10nm production capacity. The company has adapted its 10nm 'Sunny Cove' architecture, on which the mobile 'Ice Lake' CPUs were built, and backported it to the long-running 14nm manufacturing process to ensure that it can meet demand.
Intel claims up to 19 percent better performance in terms of IPC (instructions per clock) over the previous generation. 'Rocket Lake' also brings 20 PCIe 4.0 lanes and support for DDR4-3200 memory, discrete Thunderbolt 4 and Wi-Fi 6E, updated media decode hardware, and new overclocking tools.
There are five new Core i9 models including the new flagship Core i9-11900K, five new Core i7 models, and nine new Core i5 models. Along with these, Intel is rolling out new 500-series chipsets although the CPUs are technically backward compatible with current-gen 400-series chipset-based motherboards. The company has also announced new refreshed 10th Gen Core i3 and Pentium Gold desktop CPUs to round out the lower end of the market.
The top-end Core i9-11900K is aimed at gamers and content creators. It features eight cores with Hyper-Threading, which is actually fewer than the 10 cores and 20 threads of the previous-gen Core i9-10900K. Intel says overall performance makes up for that, although certain heavily multi-threaded edge cases might not perform as well. This CPU features a top speed of 5.3GHz on one core (and 4.8GHz on all cores) thanks to Intel's Thermal Velocity Boost feature when a powerful enough cooling solution can be leveraged. It features a 16MB cache and 125W TDP rating. There's also a Core i9-11900KF model which does not feature integrated Intel Xe graphics, and a Core i9-11900 which has a 65W TDP and 5.2GHz peak speed.
The more mainstream Core i7-11700K also has eight cores and 16 threads but lacks Thermal Velocity Boost. Peak speed is up to 5GHz and there's 16MB of cache memory with a 125W TDP for this model as well. The Core i5 models feature six cores and 12 threads with 12MB of cache memory, and up to 125W rated TDPs for the unlocked SKUs. The Core i5-11600KF has a top Turbo Boost speed of 4.9GHz.
Intel will be hoping to take on AMD's Ryzen 5000 series, which have proven to be excellent at single-threaded and multi-threaded workloads. Retail pricing for India is yet to be disclosed. 11th Gen CPUs should go on sale in the US on March 30, and are expected to be in retail in India at around the same time.
All 11th Gen 'Rocket Lake' CPUs will be compatible with previous-gen 400-series chipsets except the low-end B460 and H410, and all 10th Gen 'Comet Lake' CPUs will continue to work with new 500-series motherboards. You'll need a 500-series motherboard to harness PCIe 4.0, integrated USB 3.2 Gen 2x2, and faster DMI interconnect with the latest CPUs. Interestingly, Intel now allows memory overclocking on even mid-range 500-series motherboards.
Intel has previously disclosed details of its upcoming 12th Gen 'Alder Lake' architecture which will finally move the company's desktop offerings to 10nm and introduce a heterogenous mix of powerful and power-efficient cores for the first time. These CPUs are expected to launch towards the end of 2021.