Intel ‘Alder Lake’ 12th Gen Core i9, Core i7, and Core i5 CPUs for gaming, workstation and enthusiast desktop PCs have been launched, following several months of teasers and architecture-level disclosures. Six new models have been launched, all of which are unlocked and overclockable. These new CPUs are the first of the ‘Alder Lake’ family, and introduce a mix of heterogenous Performance and Efficiency cores for the first time in consumer X86 PCs. This also marks the advent of DDR5 RAM and the PCIe 5.0 interconnect standard. Intel has not yet announced the availability of 12th Gen CPUs for other segments such as laptops, however the company has said that additional desktop CPU models will follow in early 2022.
New 12th Gen ‘Alder Lake’ CPUs will have a mix of two different core types, which Intel is calling ‘Performance Hybrid Architecture’. This works in much the same way that ARM-based smartphone processors have been developed for several years now. This single architecture will serve all Intel’s consumer CPU categories, with different mixes of cores types. All 12th Gen Core CPUs will be manufactured on the newly renamed 10m ‘Intel 7’ process.
Prices in the US range from $589 (approximately Rs. 43,380 before taxes) for the top-end Core i9-12900K to $264 (approximately Rs. 19,445 before taxes) for the Core i5-12600KF. Models without graphics capabilities are priced slightly lower than their counterparts with integrated GPUs. These are prices per 1000 units, and might not reflect retail prices. Intel has said it expects robust retail availability despite the global semiconductor shortage, and multiple PC OEMs are also on board to ship pre-built desktops. Official prices in India are yet to be confirmed but some retail listings without prices appeared online as early as last week.
The new ‘Golden Cove’ Performance (P) cores succeed the ‘Willow Cove’ cores in the current ‘Tiger Lake’ architecture, while the ‘Gracemont’ Efficiency (E) core architecture can be considered a descendant of the erstwhile Intel Atom CPU range. Intel’s first hybrid CPU, codenamed ‘Lakefield’, was launched in 2020 but has been seen in very few actual shipping devices. The 12th Gen desktop Core i9 CPUs announced so far feature 16 cores (8 P + 8 E), while Core i7 models get 12 cores (8 P + 4 E) and Core i5 models have 10 cores (6 P + 4 E).
While P cores are intended to handle high-impact lightly threaded workloads, background tasks and more multi-threaded tasks can be delegated to E cores. Also, P cores continue to benefit from Hyper-Threading, allowing two threads to run simultaneously, but E cores do not, so 12…….