Alder Lake: Intel introduces the 12th Core generation with the top model Core i9-12900K

Intel’s CEO Pat Gelsinger has announced in the wake of the Intel Innovation (to the website) the first Alder Lake CPUs presented: specifically the Core i9-12900K (F), the Core i7-12700K (F) and the Core i5-12600K (F). Since the semiconductor giant was unusually open in advance and in the course of the Architecture Day 2021 (read the article) has already disclosed a lot of information, a lot was known about the 12th generation of the Core i. However, only as far as the technical structure is concerned, the performance data has remained silent to this day. That has now changed and with the 12900K, Intel promises not only to have the fastest gaming processor in its portfolio, but also to make a huge leap in the field of application. The news is rather unpleasant about the power consumption, which could be quite high despite the hybrid architecture.

Intel’s “Alder Lake” architecture is based on the recently introduced one Intel 7 manufacturing process (to the article) and due to its scalability it should be used in all market segments. When it comes to processors, Intel relies on the so-called big-little approach, which we are particularly familiar with from ARM processors from the mobile sector. To coordinate the resulting performance hybrid, the manufacturer relies on the so-called Intel Thread Director for efficient performance control – more on this in the next but one paragraph. The manufacturer promises an Instructions-Per-Cycle (IPC) increase of 19 percent compared to the previous generation Rocket Lake and a greatly increased multithreading performance thanks to the “Efficient” core.

The desktop processors of the 12th core generation use the LGA 1700 socket, the chip size should be 209 mm 2, Rocket Lake is a good deal larger at 276 mm 2. In the mobile sector, the BGA Type3 with dimensions of 50 x 25 x 1.3 millimeters is used and in the ultra-mobile segment the BGA Type4 HDI with dimensions of 28.5 x 18 x 1.1 millimeters. Depending on the area of ​​application, the CPUs consist of different blocks of performance (P-Core) and efficient cores (E-Core), the I / O panel, the iGPU based on the Xe architecture, the memory controller and the SoC. When fully equipped, the desktop models can access up to 16 processing cores – eight performance and eight efficient cores each – whereby only the performance cores support Hyper-Threading. This results in up to 24 threads, which are joined by up to 30 MB of shared L3 / LL cache. 1.25 MB L2 / MLC cache are available per P-Core, whereas four E-Cores share a 2 MB L2 cache.

In order to get the best performance out of the hybrid architecture, Intel relies on the so-called thread director. This is an integral part of the CPUs, but requires a certain amount of help from the operating system. In the nanosecond range, the Thread Director evaluates the runtime of each program as well as the status of each computing core and forwards this information to the operating system. In this way, the workloads can be optimally distributed to the individual performance and efficient cores depending on the energy options, the CPU temperature and the programs being run. This administration runs dynamically in the background and does not require any user action. For optimal performance, however, Windows 11 is required, as only this operating system currently provides all the information required by the Thread Director. To determine the difference in performance, we plan to run our tests on both Windows 11 and Windows 10.

When it comes to storage controllers, Intel relies on the support of the latest standards. The CPUs in the desktop area can not only address DDR4 RAM with 3200 MHz, but also new DDR5 main memory with 4800 MHz. In the mobile segment, device manufacturers can choose either the LP5-5200 or the LP4x-4266. The desktop processors have 16 PCIe 5.0 lanes and four PCIe 4.0 lanes available for connecting graphics cards and M.2 SSDs.

The following graphic gives an overview of the technical data of the six new processors: