Alder Lake (microprocessor)

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Alder Lake
General information
LaunchedNovember 4, 2021; 32 days ago (November 4, 2021)[1]
Marketed byIntel
Designed byIntel
Common manufacturer(s)
Cache
L1 cache80 KB per Golden Cove core (32 instructions + 48 data)
96 KB per Gracemont core (64 instructions + 32 data)
L2 cache1.25 MB per Golden Cove core
2 MB per Gracemont module
L3 cacheUp to 30 MB, shared
Architecture and classification
Technology nodeIntel 7 (previously known as 10ESF)
MicroarchitectureGolden Cove and Gracemont
Instruction setx86-64
Instructionsx86-64
Extensions
Physical specifications
Cores
  • Up to 16 (8 P-cores + 8 E-cores)
GPU(s)Intel Xe-based integrated graphics
Socket(s)
Products, models, variants
Brand name(s)
History
Predecessor

Alder Lake is Intel's codename for the 12th generation of Intel Core processors based on a hybrid architecture utilizing Golden Cove high-performance cores and Gracemont power-efficient cores.[2][3] It is fabricated using Intel's Intel 7 process, previously referred to as Intel 10 nm Enhanced SuperFin (10ESF).[4][5][6] Intel officially announced 12th Gen Intel Core CPUs on October 27, 2021.[7]

Features[edit]

CPU[edit]

  • Golden Cove high-performance "Performance-cores" (P-cores)
    • Dedicated floating-point adders[8]
    • New 6-wide instruction decoder (up from 4-wide in Rocket Lake/Tiger Lake) with the ability to fetch up to 32 bytes of instructions per cycle (up from 16)[8]
    • 12 execution ports (up from 10)
    • 512 reorder-buffer entries (up from 384)
    • 6-wide µOP allocations (up from 5)
    • µOP cache size increased to 4K entries (up from 2.25K)
    • AVX-VNNI, a VEX-coded variant of AVX512-VNNI for 256-bit vectors
    • AVX-512 (including FP16) is present but disabled by default to match E-cores. It still can be enabled on some motherboards by disabling the E-cores [8][9]
    • ~18% IPC uplift.[10]
  • Gracemont high-efficiency "Efficient-cores" (E-cores)
    • E-cores are organized in 4-core modules; L2 cache is shared between E-cores within a module
    • 256 reorder-buffer entries (up from 208 in Tremont)
    • 17 execution ports (up from 12)
    • AVX2, FMA and AVX-VNNI to catch up with P-cores
    • Skylake-like IPC.[10]
  • new instruction set extensions[11]
  • up to 1 TB/s interconnect between cores[8]
  • Intel Thread Director (Scalable Hybrid Arch Scheduling), a hardware technology to assist the OS thread scheduler with more efficient load distribution between heterogeneous CPU cores.[2] Enabling this new capability requires support in operating systems. Microsoft added support for Thread Director to Windows 11[8][12]
  • up to 30 MB L3 cache[8]
  • nomenclature:
    • up to 8 P-cores and 8 E-cores on desktop[10]
    • up to 6 P-cores and 8 E-cores on mobile (UP3 designs)[10]
    • up to 2 P-cores and 8 E-cores on ultra mobile (UP4 designs)[10]
  • only P-cores feature Hyper-threading

GPU[edit]

  • Intel Xe (Gen12.2) GPU
  • up to 96 EU on mobile and 32 EU on desktop[8]

I/O[edit]

  • LGA 1700 socket[13] for desktop processors
  • BGA Type3 and Type4 HDI for mobile processors[2]
  • 20 PCIe lanes from CPU
    • 16 PCIe 5.0 lanes[8]
    • 04 PCIe 4.0 lanes[8]
  • Chipset link - DMI 4.0 x8 link with Intel 600 series PCH chipsets
  • DDR5, DDR4, LPDDR5, and LPDDR4 memory support
    • up to DDR4-3200
    • up to DDR5-4800
    • XMP 3.0[1]
    • Dynamic Memory Boost[1]
  • Thunderbolt 4 and WiFi 6E support (integrated for mobile variants)

Dies[edit]

For the Alder Lake generation, Intel will initially produce 4 different dies.[10][14] Each die has a different number of P-cores (P) and E-cores (E) and GPU Execution Units.

Segment CPU configuration GPU Width Length Die Size
Alder Lake-S
(desktop)
8P + 8E (performance) 32 EU 10.5 mm 20.5 mm 215.25 mm²
6P + 0E (budget) 10.5 mm 15.5 mm 162.75 mm²
Alder Lake-P
(mobile)
6P + 8E 96 EU 10.62 mm 20.45 mm 217.18 mm²
Alder Lake-M
(low-power mobile)
2P + 8E

Software support[edit]

Alder Lake requires special support from the operating system due to its relatively unusual-for-x86 hybrid nature. For software unable to be upgraded, a UEFI-provided compatibility mode may be used to disable the E cores; it is enabled by the user turning on scroll lock.[15]

CPUID incoherence[edit]

The P and E cores of Alder Lake CPUs report different CPUID models. As a result, this may cause issues with digital rights management systems that perceive the P and E cores as being separate computers, and falsely enforce license restrictions preventing a particular piece of software from being executed on more than one device at a time. Intel published a list of PC games it identified as having this compatibility issue, and stated that it was working with publishers to develop patches. Some of the games were identified by Intel as only having this bug on Windows 10, and correctly functioning on Windows 11 (with some of them dependent on Windows 11 patches scheduled to be released in November 2021).[15][16]

The Intel Game Dev Guide for Alder Lake also cautions against the use of undefined behavior in bitwise operations, as the two cores can act differently.[17]

Scheduler support[edit]

Alder Lake's CPU topology has performance implications, especially for gaming environments where the developers are not used to NUMA setups. On Windows 11, this problem is expected to be mostly dealt with by the "hybrid-aware" OS taking hints from Intel Thread Director, an embedded microcontroller in the CPU.[17] A wide variety of inputs, including whether a process's window is in the foreground, feeds into the ITD.[18] The ITD can function to a lesser extent with the OS providing less or no cooperation.[19]

List of 12th generation Alder Lake processors[edit]

Desktop processors[edit]

  • All the CPUs support up to 128 GB of DDR4-3200 or DDR5-4800 RAM in dual channel mode.[20]
  • Some models feature integrated UHD 770 GPU with 32 EUs and base frequency of 300 MHz.
  • Max Turbo Power: the maximum sustained (> 1 s) power dissipation of the processor as limited by current and/or temperature controls. Instantaneous power may exceed Maximum Turbo Power for short durations (≤ 10 ms). Maximum Turbo Power is configurable by system vendor and can be system specific.
  • By default Alder Lake CPUs are configured to run at Turbo Power at all times and Base Power, 125 W, is only guaranteed when P-Cores/E-cores do not exceed the base clock rate.[8]
Processor
branding
Model

Cores
(threads)

Base
clock rate
Turbo
Boost
2.0
P-core
Turbo
Max 3.0
Max GPU
clock rate
Smart
cache
Turbo
power
Price
(USD)
P-cores E-cores P-cores E-cores P-cores E-cores
Core i9 12900K 8 (16) 8 (8) 3.2 GHz 2.4 GHz 5.1 GHz 3.9 GHz 5.2 GHz 1.55 GHz 30 MB 241 W $589
12900KF N/A $564
Core i7 12700K 4 (4) 3.6 GHz 2.7 GHz 4.9 GHz 3.8 GHz 5.0 GHz 1.50 GHz 25 MB 190 W $409
12700KF N/A $384
Core i5 12600K 6 (12) 3.7 GHz 2.8 GHz 3.6 GHz N/A 1.45 GHz 20 MB 150 W $289
12600KF N/A $264

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Cutress, Dr. Ian. "Intel 12th Gen Core Alder Lake for Desktops: Top SKUs Only, Coming November 4th". www.anandtech.com.
  2. ^ a b c Cutress, Ian. "Intel Alder Lake: Confirmed x86 Hybrid with Golden Cove and Gracemont for 2021". www.anandtech.com. Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  3. ^ Dexter, Alan (2021-04-06). "Intel Alder Lake CPUs: What are they, when will they launch, and how fast will they be?". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2021-04-07.
  4. ^ "CES 2021: Intel Announces Four New Processor Families". Intel Newsroom. Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  5. ^ Gartenberg, Chaim (July 26, 2021). "Intel has a new architecture roadmap and a plan to retake its chipmaking crown in 2025". The Verge. Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  6. ^ Subramaniam, Vaidyanathan (July 27, 2021). "Intel details new process innovations and node names, Alder Lake 10 nm Enhanced SuperFin is now Intel 7; Intel 20A is the 2 nm process for 2024". Notebookcheck. Retrieved July 28, 2021.
  7. ^ "Intel Unveils 12th Gen Intel Core, Launches World's Best Gaming..." Intel.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Cutress, Ian; Frumusanu, Andrei (2021-11-04). "The Intel 12th Gen Core i9-12900K Review: Hybrid Performance Brings Hybrid Complexity". AnandTech. Retrieved 2021-11-04.
  9. ^ Alcorn, Paul (2021-08-19). "Intel Architecture Day 2021: Alder Lake Chips, Golden Cove and Gracemont Cores". Tom's Hardware. Retrieved 2021-08-21.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Cutress, Ian; Frumusanu, Andrei. "Intel Architecture Day 2021: Alder Lake, Golden Cove, and Gracemont Detailed". www.anandtech.com. Retrieved 2021-10-30.
  11. ^ https://software.intel.com/content/dam/develop/external/us/en/documents-tps/architecture-instruction-set-extensions-programming-reference.pdf
  12. ^ "Intel Makes it Official: Hybrid CPU Cores Arrive With Alder Lake - ExtremeTech". www.extremetech.com. Retrieved 2021-02-15.
  13. ^ Subramaniam, Vaidyanathan. "Intel 12th gen Alder Lake-S will use a larger LGA 1700 socket that may last for three generations". Notebookcheck.
  14. ^ "MSI confirms there are two die variants of Alder Lake-S desktop CPUs". VideoCardz.com. Retrieved 2021-10-30.
  15. ^ a b Orland, Kyle (2021-11-05). "Faulty DRM breaks dozens of games on Intel's Alder Lake CPUs". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2021-11-05.
  16. ^ "Intel: These 50+ PC Games Are Incompatible with 'Alder Lake' CPUs Due to DRM". PCMAG. Retrieved 2021-11-06.
  17. ^ a b "Game Dev Guide for Alder Lake Performance Hybrid Architecture". Intel.
  18. ^ Cutress, Dr. Ian. "Intel 12th Gen Core Alder Lake for Desktops: Top SKUs Only, Coming November 4th". www.anandtech.com.
  19. ^ "Scheduler Alder Lake není všemocný, Intel počítá s optimalizacemi vývojářů". diit.cz (in Czech). Retrieved 7 November 2021.
  20. ^ "Products formerly Alder Lake". www.intel.com.