The use of big and little cores would be a first for desktop PCs
Intel has decoupled its architecture and manufacturing process roadmaps
Various Alder Lake configurations could be used across market segments
Along with the news that its future 7nm CPUs will be delayed till at least late 2022, and that it might pivot to contracting external fabs for manufacturing, Intel also confirmed part of its roadmap going forward. The key takeaway is that Intel is not planning to ship 10nm CPUs for the desktop segment until its 12th Gen platform, which is expected to be ready in the second half of 2021. The company also confirmed the codename 'Alder Lake' as the 12th gen platform for the mobile and desktop segments. It will follow the 11th Gen 'Tiger Lake', which is expected to be launched in September this year, but will likely only be available for some segments of the laptop market, like current 'Ice Lake' processors. No specifics about the capabilities and configurations of Alder Lake CPUs were announced.
According to rumours published by WCCFTech, Intel could be planning to ship desktop Alder Lake with as many as eight powerful 'Golden Cove' cores and eight efficient 'Gracemont' cores, with different configurations for different PC and possibly server segments. Lakefield has been promoted as a solution for extremely portable devices for which battery life is a major consideration. A hybrid core design would delegate lower priority background tasks and sensor activity processing to the lower-power efficiency cores, reducing overall power consumption.
Intel's Hybrid Technology implementation so far allows it to mix and match various different kinds of technology blocks such as CPU and GPU cores, as well as IO processing and special-purpose logic. It is likely that Alder Lake will also leverage Intel's Foveros 3D stacking manufacturing process. Previous rumours also suggest that Intel will introduce DDR5 RAM and a new LGA1700 socket with this generation.
Jamshed Avari has been working in tech journalism as a writer, editor and reviewer for over 13 years. He has reviewed hundreds of products ranging from smartphones and tablets to PC components and accessories, and has also written guides, feature articles, news and analyses. Going beyond simple ratings and specifications, he digs deep into how emerging products and services affect actual users, and what marks they leave on our cultural landscape. He's happiest when something new comes along