Intel has released some more details of its new line of processors, under the codename of Rocket Lake CPUs. The line of new CPUs was due to come out by the end of 2020, but it looks like Intel has had to delay plans a bit.
The core of the problems with the new architecture dates back to the 14nm FinFET process node that Intel has been on for some time. Ever since the debut of Skylake processors, Intel has been working with the 14nm node, consistently refreshing it in new products by taking advantage of better manufacturing over time. Although with AMD surging back into popularity this year thanks in large part to Ryzen’s explosive growth in market share, the aging process is really lagging behind.
Intel’s Rocket Lake will use a 14++ nm ‘back-port’ of the Willow Cove core architecture, and despite its age, there are some impressive gains being made.
The current rumors surrounding Rocket Lake CPUs suggest that the new series of processors will sport much higher boost clocks compared to previous architecture. Whereas older engineering samples of Rocket Lake pointed to 4.3 GHz boost clocks, it looks like there could be BINs with up to 5.0 GHz boost.
The result points to a major jump upwards compared to the i9-9900K from the previous generation. The 8-core and 16-threads will put in line to compete, although some benchmarks point out that the single-threaded performance of Intel’s new offering is its only real advantage. Only time will tell if these synthetics are valid though.
Intel has been very tight-lipped about the whole line of Rocket Lake-S. It was absent during both their Q2 earnings call, and it was also not present in Intel’s press release recently.
As for other features, there’s even a new generation of integrated graphics on the chip. The Rocket Lake setup includes a 10 nm GPU uncore die that contains the Gen12 XE iGPU. This offers a dual-channel DDR4 memory controller, a PCI-Express 4.0 controller, and improved engines for media and specialized graphics tasks. This smaller die size for integrated graphics makes it easier from an engineering perspective to pack more performance into the overall package.
This is of course not the first time Intel has used this approach. The first-gen desktop processor on the LGA1156 socket, Clarkdale, also used a similar approach. That processor had a 32 nm CPU die, and a 45 nm uncore die dedicated to graphics.
The Rocket Lake CPUs will also have a total of 24 PCI-Express lanes, with 16 assigned to the core PCIE lanes, and the other 8 being attached to the chipset as a shared bus. This is four more lanes than the total used by Comet Lake.