During a period of intense competition, Intel has decided to reveal some detailed details about a next-generation processor to consumers, known as Rocket Lake or Intel 11th Gen Core. The new family of processors is expected to enter the market in the first quarter of 2021 and is expected to share the socket and motherboard with the current 10th Gen Comet Lake processors, providing an upgrade path even for those with the Core i9-10900K, Intel’s most powerful desktop processor yet. The new 500 series motherboards are also expected to be available.
The new silicon or SoC Rocket Lake-S will be known as “Cypress Cove”. Intel gets confused in the press release versus the PDF presentation as the press release says it’s not the core – it clearly states that Ice Lake (Sunny Cove) is the underlying microarchitecture. However, the PDF presentation says Cypress Cove is at the core. In this case, to be clear, Sunny Cove and Cypress Cove are set to be virtually identical, however Sunny Cove is at 10nm and Cypress Cove is the rear port variant at 14nm.
Coupled with these cores will create the Tiger Lake graphics architecture known as Xto me-LP, which is also backward transmitted from 10nm to 14nm for this product. Combined representation of the 14nm Ice Lake and X coresto me– LP art is what will be known as Rocket Lake, (at least one of) SoC (s) 11th Gen Core family.
With new processors, Intel is aiming for a crude increase in the number of instructions per clock in the double-digit range, which would be similar to the increase we saw during the move from Comet Lake to Intel Ice Lake mobile processors. Due to the node difference, the exact IPC change is likely to be lower than what we’ve seen before, but the 10% + is still very respectable, especially if Intel is also able to maintain the high frequency it has reached in the current generation of Lake Comet.
One of the benefits of switching to a Sunny Cove core with a rear port will be the incorporation of an AVX-512 vector acceleration unit into the Cypress Cove. This allows Intel to provide its Deep Learning Boost library for AI and ML acceleration, including support for Vector Neural Network Instructions (VNNI), ultimately bringing the AVX-512 to the desktop platform.
However, to mix and match the right combination of core count, graphics, and AVX-512 for die size / performance / cost, it seems Rocket Lake-S will be offering up to eight cores in its largest configuration. In a PDF press release, Intel stated that the currently tested silicon is rated at 125W TDP, with a maximum turbo boost of 250W, which corresponds to what we already see on the Core i9-10900K. There is no escaping the per-watt performance characteristics of the process node, indicating that Intel may find it will be a little easier to hit those high frequencies with fewer cores. Intel is also promoting new overclocking tools at Rocket Lake, but hasn’t gone into the details.
Another feature revealed by Intel in Rocket Lake is the move to PCIe Gen 4.0 on the processor, with up to 20 lanes available. These will likely be split into one x16 for graphics and one x4 for storage on most motherboards, which is in line with what we’ve seen on the latest generation Intel Z490 motherboards, some of which have already promoted PCIe 4.0 support for future Intel processors. Rocket Lake, that is. Intel also mentions that the memory controller now supports up to DDR4-3200, however the predicted performance has been calculated for DDR4-2933 memory.
On the graphics side, go to Xto me-LP graphics architecture will be a big increase in graphics performance, with Intel suggesting a 50% improvement over current Comet Lake integrated graphics. It’s worth noting here on the slide that Intel does mention UHD Graphics ft Xto me Graphics architecture ”- this may indicate a scaled down version of Xto me compared to Tiger Lake. I expect to see only 32 EU here as a balance between matrix area, power and performance. The fine print suggests that there will be versions of Rocket Lake available without integrated graphics enabled, similar to the F processors we see in the market today.
Taking this into account, for units with integrated graphics, Intel promotes new multimedia encoders and display resolution support, with up to 4K60 12-bit for 4: 4: 4 HEVC and VP9 or up to 4K60 with 10-bit 4: 2: 0 AV1, showing AV1 support for main processors. Support for display resolution has also increased, up to three 4K60 displays or two 5K60 displays, supporting DP 1.4a, HDMI 2.0b and HBR3.
It was an unexpected news this morning – talking to peers seems somewhat of a surprise – perhaps even for PR teams, considering that the system setups as shown in the slide above are dated August 6, almost 3 months ago. It will be interesting to hear if Intel will reveal more details ahead of the premiere.