In Architecture day 2021, Intel has released much information on Alder Lake hybrid architecture. Intel Alder Lake CPU will consist of new Performance (P-core) and Efficient (E-core) x86 core microarchitecture.
Surprisingly, the Efficient core of Alder lake gives more performance than the Skylake core. The Skylake architecture is not too old as Intel used it up to 10th gen Comet lake (optimized Skylake).
Once was the powerful cores are now becoming the Efficient cores of modern Alder Lake chip.
Compared with the Skylake single-thread performance, the Efficient core achieves 40% more performance while consuming 40% less power. However, most probably, Intel has been used the 6th gen Skylake cores number for the comparison.
Whereas, in multi-core performance, four Efficient cores achieve 80% more performance while consuming 80% less power than two core four thread Skylake. The hyperthreading is disabled in all Efficient-core.
Unfortunately, no detailed benchmark reports have got from the company. And all these numbers are claimed by the company after using SPECrate 2017 benchmark tool. Independent testing will show the real capabilities of the CPU.
Efficient cores may play an important role in the mobile segment. Intel Alder Lake will be introduced across desktop, mobile and ultra-mobile platforms. In the mobile segment, the E-cores are more than the P-cores.
Better utilization of Efficient cores will probably give an advantage to Intel-powered laptops. The E-cores not only will help to gain performance but also in reduced power consumption. And the CPU overall power consumption is very important for the laptop’s battery life.
The Performance core (P-core) will deliver the important CPU performance. It consists of a new Matrix Engine to accelerate AI workload. Also, it has a new PM controller for power budget management.
Intel claimed – the Alder lake P-core gives an average of 19% more performance than 11th gen Rocket Lake. Not only that, Intel targeted to reduce all types of latency. The Performance-core is the highest performing CPU core Intel has ever built and pushes the limits of low latency and single-threaded application performance.
Some rumours suggest that the Alder Lake Core i9-12900K has surpassed the Ryzen 9 5950X in Cinebench R20. Here, Ryzen 9 5950X is a 16 core 32 thread CPU whereas, i9-12900K will have 8 Performance cores and 8 Efficient cores. This means the hybrid architecture impacted the performance, and Efficient cores are not weak.
All the leaks surfaced is of an engineering sample of the CPU, not a retail unit. And Windows 11 is still developing under insiders preview. Later, as the scheduler becomes more mature, we may notice some significant performance differences. So retail units of CPU and matured Windows 11 can give more output than we expected.
Intel Thread Director
In order for Performance-cores and Efficient-cores to work seamlessly with the operating system, Intel has developed an improved scheduling technology called Intel Thread Director. And it is built directly into the hardware.
The Thread Director is a must-have in the chip. Without it, the OS scheduling would be a nightmare. Because each application or program will have to land on the correct core when launched. Moreover, any problem while allocating cores to the application may ruin the user experience.
For instance, if games and rendering apps accidentally lands to E-Core, it will degrade performance significantly.
It is also important to switch the program from p-core to e-core and vice versa, depending on the performance required.
Intel Alder Lake Spec
Undoubtedly, the Intel Alder Lake CPU is a huge leap forward. It is the first performance hybrid architecture with P-core and E-core, built on Intel 7 process node (Previously, Intel 10nm Enhanced SuperFin). The P-cores are hyperthreaded, whereas the E-cores lacks hyperthreading.
Alder Lake will feature the new Xe graphics and modern connectivity like Thunderbolt 4, Wi-Fi 6E. Support for both DDR4-3200 and DDR5-4800 gives a wider choice of RAM usage. Still, the cache is lower than what AMD used to offer. Supports up to 30 MB LL cache.
This will be the first platform with PCI-e Gen 5 support. The PCI-e 5 has double the bandwidth of PCIe 4. Hence using more PCIe devices won’t bottleneck the lanes. New 1700 socket motherboard required to run Alder lake desktop CPU.
The power consumption will be higher than expected as the rated TDP is up to 125W. Maybe the power utilization is less with laptops and no restrictions on desktops.
Indeed the hybrid architectures are outperforming. Previously, the Apple M1 chip showed us some surprising numbers and is now used in Macs. Likewise, we are expecting the same result with Intel Alder Lake.
Furthermore, Intel Alder Lake is the last resort to counter AMD current and upcoming CPUs. AMD planned a 3D stack to increase cache in the future CPU that has already been demonstrated in Computex 2021.
On paper, Intel Alder lake looks promising but more details are yet to be released.