Intel’s 12th generation Alder Lake CPUs are finally here, ushering in a new era of Intel CPUs, led by the Core i9-12900K CPU, promised by Intel as “the best gaming processor ever.” world”.
Intel has been talking about Alder Lake since CES 2021 in January, and also told us more about Intel’s hybrid architecture approach at Architecture Day 2021 in July. But today’s announcement marks the peak the sum of those efforts in the form of actual hardware that you can buy and use.
Intel is kicking things off with three new 12th Gen CPUs, the most powerful being the Core i9-12900K model, which has a total of 16 cores (eight required performance cores “P-cores” and eight cores efficiency “E-cores”). ) and 24 threads, capable of clocking up to 5.2GHz using Intel’s Turbo Boost Max 3.0 technology. Intel promises a 19% performance improvement thanks to the new P-core architecture over 11th Gen CPUs.
There’s also the Core i7-12700K (12 cores and 20 threads total, with eight P cores and four E cores) and the Core i5-12700K (10 cores and 16 threads total, with six P cores and four E cores) for those interested. who don’t need much performance. Each new CPU is also available in a KF variant that removes the integrated Intel UHD Graphics 770 to reduce product prices.
Intel’s 12th generation Alder Lake CPUs
|Model||Cores (performance / efficiency)||Threads||Base clock speed, P-core / E-core (GHz)||Boosted clock speed, P-core / E-core (GHz)||Turbo Boost Max 3.0 clock speed (GHz)||Smart Cache (L3)||Processor base power (W)||Maximum turbo power (W)||Graphics||Recommended Price|
|i9-12900KZD||16 (8P/8E)||24||3.2 / 2.4||Up to 5.1 / Up to 3.9||Up to 5.2||30MB||125||241||Intel UHD Graphics 770||$589|
|i9-12900KF||16 (8P/8E)||24||3.2 / 2.4||Up to 5.1 / Up to 3.9||Up to 5.2||30MB||125||241||N/A||$564|
|i7-12700K||12 (8P/4E)||20||3.6 / 2.7||Up to 4.9 / Up to 3.8||Up to 5.0||25MB||125||190||Intel UHD Graphics 750||$409|
|i7-12700KF||12 (8P/4E)||20||3.6 / 2.7||Up to 4.9 / Up to 3.8||Up to 5.0||25MB||125||190||N/A||$384|
|i5-12600K||10 (6P / 4E)||16||3.7 / 3.8||Up to 4.9 / Up to 3.6||NA||20MB||125||150||Intel UHD Graphics 750||$289|
|i5-12600KF||10 (6P / 4E)||16||3.7 / 3.8||Up to 4.9 / Up to 3.6||NA||20MB||125||150||N/A||$264|
Intel is also using the new chips to introduce a lot of future technologies for more advanced standards. All three new chips offer up to 20 PCIe lanes (split between 16 PCIe 5.0 and 4 PCIe 4.0 lanes), support for DDR5 memory at up to 4800MT/s (along with older DDR4 support with 3200MT/s) and L3/L2 has a larger cache size.
Unfortunately, to use the 12th Gen CPUs you also need a new motherboard: Alder Lake will need a motherboard built on Intel’s newly announced Z690 chipset, which adds even more modern features such as Wi-Fi 6E support and faster USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 data transfers. Intel also uses the new LGA 1700 socket, so you might even need a new heatsink.
Intel is also pushing Windows 11 as a key part of its Alder Lake product line, noting that it has worked with Microsoft to optimize the Intel Thread Director software to better manage tasks across threads. when using the new Windows 11 operating system. However, we’ll need to do some testing to see if the Intel 12th delivers significant performance on real Windows 11, along with competition from AMD and Apple.
Intel often refers to their annual chips as new generation, but the 12th generation lineup really deserves the title. Not only does it represent the biggest leap forward for Intel’s PC CPUs in years, but it’s also the way Intel designs new chips.
The new 12th generation Alder Lake CPU family is Intel’s first desktop chip family to go beyond the 14nm process the company has been using since it was first introduced on the 6th generation Skylake chip in 2016. 2015. Instead, the new 12th generation CPUs will be designed on the new Intel 7 process.
As Intel explained, the new Alder Lake 12th Gen CPUs are a new approach to x86 chips, one very similar to the approach Arm has taken for years (and has witnessed for years). success on Apple’s M1 chip line). Instead of just cramming as many power-hungry cores into a single chip, Alder Lake combines “performance” cores (akin to Intel’s Core-level processors) with “efficient” cores. efficiency” (akin to an Atom-grade core) for a combination of power and efficiency.
Intel started working on this idea a long time ago, in its Lakefield chips of 2020, but it’s a much more limited set of chips designed for low-powered hardware. On the other hand, Alder Lake aims to provide full-sized desktops as Intel’s top CPUs, alongside laptops and ultraportables.
The 12th generation CPUs also give Intel a chance to redeem themselves after the lackluster 11th generation line, which tried to make up for Intel’s aging 14nm process. And the struggle in 10nm manufacturing using 10nm designs is shifted to the 14nm process. But due to differences in the two architectures, Intel was forced to reduce the number of cores they could offer on Gen 11 chips compared to the previous Gen 10.
As a result, last year’s 11th gen CPUs offered worse multithreading performance: as Anandtech’s review pointed out, 11th gen chips offer little or no boost (and even, in some cases, even worse) gaming performance, while still getting hotter and more power-hungry.
The new PC 12th Gen CPUs are also just the beginning: Intel has big plans for a hybrid Alder Lake architecture, which includes mobile chips (example shows six P cores and eight E cores). and ultraportable chips (two P cores and eight E cores) for laptops and other mobile devices in the future.
The 12th generation CPUs will be available on November 4th.