Rocket Lake will likely work with existing Intel 400-series motherboards
Detailed specifications have not been announced yet
12th Gen 'Alder Lake' could be based on a brand new hybrid architecture
Intel has announced the first details of its upcoming 'Rocket Lake' desktop CPU lineup, which will be sold as the 11th Generation Core CPU family. According to a blog post by John Bonini, Intel's VP and GM of Client Computing Group Desktop, Workstations and Gaming, the new chips will be launched in the first quarter of 2021. While no detailed specifications have been announced yet, the post does confirm that Rocket Lake CPUs will support PCIe 4.0 and that Intel will continue to target gamers as a primary market for desktop CPUs.
The news about Rocket Lake is almost a footnote in the blog post, which touts the gaming and overclocking credentials of Intel's current 10th Gen 'Comet Lake' desktop CPUs as well as the company's partnerships with game developers to promote standards and optimise performance.
While Intel hasn't officially confirmed anything else about Rocket Lake, the platform has been rumoured for a long time now. Since the upcoming CPUs are expected to share the same motherboard socket as current Comet Lake CPUs and be compatible, hardware manufacturers have already teased PCIe 4.0 support built into existing 400-series motherboards. While new motherboards should be launched, it is likely that several existing models will be able to leverage at least partial PCIe 4.0 functionality when used with a Rocket Lake CPU.
Rocket Lake is also expected to support Thunderbolt 4 and Wi-Fi 6, along with Intel's new Xe integrated graphics. Interestingly, Intel has not confirmed or ruled out support for DDR5 RAM yet, though this would likely require all-new motherboards. The highest-end Core i9 and Core i7 models can be expected to reach turbo speeds of 5GHz and above, based on the Intel blog post highlighting the fact that this is a strength of Intel's current Core i9-10900K.
The Intel blog post was published just a day before AMD is expected to unveil its next-generation 'Zen 3' architecture. AMD has supported PCIe 4.0 on the desktop since the Ryzen 3000 series, which is based on the 'Zen 2' architecture and manufactured on a 7nm process. Intel's 11th Gen will thus be split between Rocket Lake for desktop chips and Tiger Lake for laptops, plus other potential future announcements targeting different form factors.
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