Intel’s leaked Raptor Lake-S lineup seems to threaten AMD and Apple

We’ve known certain details about Intel’s Raptor Lake processors for a while, but now it seems that the full Raptor Lake-S lineup has leaked. This current leak corroborates some of the earlier reporting about power, memory, and core configurations.
YouTuber AdoredTV confirms that Raptor Lake is the 13th generation and replaces Alder Lake. Raptor Lake will also feature new core architectures that combine next-gen Raptor Cove cores with Alder Lake’s Gracemont cores.

Like Alder Lake, Raptor Lake uses the same hybrid configuration that utilizes more powerful Raptor Cove cores for demanding loads while reserving less power-hungry applications for the more efficient Gracemont cores.
The leak also confirms the power requirements and core counts for various SKUs. The unlocked, enthusiast-oriented “K” series tops out at 125W, mainstream SKUs are at 65W, and “T-series” SKUs sip power at 35W.
The top-end Core i9 configuration will feature eight Raptor Cove cores and 16 Gracemont cores that equal 24 cores and 32 threads. This would represent a dramatic doubling of “efficiency” cores, considering the current rumors surrounding an eight-core/eight-core configuration in Alder Lake. If the leak turns out to be correct, that would mean Intel wouldn’t succeed Gracemont cores with something, but instead would just increase the amount.
The Core i7 reduces the Gracemont core count to eight for a total of 16 cores and 24 threads. The mid-range Core i5 comes in “K” and “S” flavors. The K version gets six Raptor and eight Gracemont (14 cores/20 threads) while the S version drops the number of Gracemont by four (14 cores, 16 threads).  The Core i3 eliminates the Gracemont cores altogether in favor of just four Raptor cores (4 cores/ 8 threads). Finally, the ultra-low-power Pentium series gets just two Raptor cores (4 cores/ 4 threads).
All of the Core processors will ship with an integrated GPU (iGPU) based on Intel’s enhanced Xe graphics. While all Core processors will use 32 execution units (EU), certain lower-end CPUs will use either 24 or 16 EU iGPUs.
Performance-wise, the boost clock features a 200MHz increase, now up to 5.5GHz. Intel will allegedly claim that is a “world record turbo frequency,” which is a direct shot across AMD’s bow. There will also be a larger L2 cache which Intel will brand “Game Cache,” similar to AMD’s marketing of its combination of Zen 2’s L2 and L3 cache. Raptor Lake-S will support RAM speeds of up to 5.6 GHz with its low power variant (LPDDR5X) supporting up to 6.5 GHz.
The leak also confirmed that the mobile version of Raptor Lake will support DLVR power delivery. This should attempt to make equipped laptops more competitive in terms of battery life. This is important as Apple’s shift to its own ARM-based M1 platform has made huge strides in battery life while still delivering necessary performance. Intel’s hybrid approach to the CPU combined with DLVR could match Apple’s efficiency.
On paper, these details seem to launch Intel right back into the fight as it moves towards Meteor Lake and a 7nm manufacturing process, now known as Intel 5. This is important as both Alder Lake and Raptor Lake are built on Intel 7 (previously 10nm process). AMD made tremendous gains (and market share) once it moved over to 7nm. If Intel can make these kinds of gains on 10nm, the future definitely looks bright for its upcoming nodes.

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Noctua presents free Intel Alder Lake cooler upgrades, hints at launch window

Cooler maker Noctua will offer free upgrade kits for Intel’s upcoming Alder Lake platform, as the company confirmed in a blog post this week. In addition to offering owners an upgrade path, the post hints at a launch window for Alder Lake: Mid-October.
Owners of a NM-i17xx-MP78, NM-i17xx-MP83, or one of their respective versions can apply with Noctua for a mounting kit upgrade once CPUs and motherboards have started selling. Noctua says owners need proof of purchase for both a supported Noctua cooler and either an Alder Lake CPU or motherboard.

The post calls out express shipping options but says that owners “who need the kits urgently” can purchase them on Amazon starting in mid-October. That’s a strong hint that Alder Lake will launch around then, building on previous rumors and speculation that Intel is targeting an early fall release.
Recent rumors have pointed at a launch in November, while speculation from earlier this year pegged the launch in September. The biggest clue for October, however, is actually Windows 11.
Last month, a leaked Intel support document pointed at an October 2021 release for Microsoft’s upcoming operating system. The OS will reportedly harness Alder Lake for performance gains, so launching side-by-side would make sense.
Nothing has been confirmed by Microsoft or Intel yet. However, we know Alder Lake is launching this year, so October seems like an ideal target if Intel wants to ride the coattails of Windows 11.
Alder Lake uses the LGA1700 pin layout. Previously, reports suggested that it wouldn’t be compatible with currently available coolers, even with a bracket. With Noctua’s announcement, however, it seems some coolers will work. In addition to offering mounting brackets for existing owners, Noctua says it’s in the process of shipping updated cooler kits with the new mounting hardware.
Most of the coolers from the Austrian company will have upgrade kits available, though a select few won’t. In particular, Noctua says that NH-L9i series coolers will not have an upgrade kit “due to severe compatibility restrictions.” Instead, updated versions of these coolers will arrive in October.
Before applying for an upgrade, make sure to check out Noctua’s socket compatibility grid, which was recently updated with LGA1700.

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Intel teases the design of its Arc Alchemist GPU within the coolest means doable

Following the recent release of Intel Arc, a new brand dedicated to high-performance gaming hardware, software, and services, Intel made another announcement. The company teased the upcoming release of its first discrete gaming graphics card in an unexpectedly unique way.
If Intel’s goal was to draw attention to its line of graphics cards that had until recently been code-named Intel Arc Alchemist, it’s safe to say it succeeded. The company sent 1,000 of its own drones out into the night sky and recorded a dazzling light show that was then compiled into a one-minute video on Twitter.

We’ve painted pixels in the sky with 1,000 Intel drones. Now, that’s a visual experience. What will you create next? #IntelArc #inteldrones #inteldronelightshows #dronelightshows
— Intel Graphics (@IntelGraphics) August 17, 2021
“We’ve painted pixels in the sky with 1,000 Intel drones. Now, that’s a visual experience. What will you create next?” said the message attached to the video.
Aside from a number of fun visual effects created by the drones, the video carried an important teaser — the image of a dual-fan graphics card. We can only assume that this might be the future design of Intel’s Alchemist, but it is possible that the brand just tried to create an easily recognizable image. Whether Intel’s drone creation is a correct depiction of Alchemist or not, it seems the company is not going to put too much stock into cooling. Based on current information, two fans seem adequate for most, if not all, configurations of this GPU.
Intel hasn’t confirmed any specs of its future gaming GPUs yet, although the company has indicated that it aims to rival Nvidia’s and AMD’s best graphics cards. Leaks indicate that the cards will have a maximum of 512 execution units (EUs) combined with 16GB of GDDR6 memory. Twitter user @GPUsAreMagic stated that the 512 EUs found in Arc Alchemist are divided into four groups, each including 128 EUs. However, we don’t know this for a fact, as this assumption is based on a render of the die that was included in one of Intel’s video announcements.

Alchemist is going to be the first product released by the Intel Arc team. Anton Kaplanyan, a recently poached ex-Nvidia DLSS engineer who now works for Intel, recently revealed more about the card’s capabilities.
“In case you were curious, Intel Arc GPUs will come with full DX12U support, including mesh shading and high-performance ray tracing. Bonus, high-quality neural supersampling deserves a separate announcement,” said Anton in response to the launch of Intel Arc.
Intel’s “high-quality neural supersampling” sounds a lot like Nvidia’s DLSS and AMD’s FSR. It’s certainly a feature that future Intel GPU owners will be happy to have, but it’s uncertain how much use it will find in gaming. As game developers already have to try to optimize their games for both DLSS and FSR, it’s likely that Intel’s tech will not be supported on too many platforms — at least not until the cards hold a larger share of the market.
Intel Arc’s plans in regards to the gaming graphics card sector seem to stretch far into the future. The company has already announced that Alchemist, which was previously named DG2, will have several successors — Battlemage, Celestial, and Druid. Intel Arc Alchemist is set to release in the first quarter  of 2022, so if all goes well, we should start seeing more information about its design and performance in the coming months.

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What’s Intel 20A? Nanometers, Angstrom, and past

Intel’s CPUs are going to get smaller and smaller, and to help potential buyers understand just what that means, it’s launched a new metric: The angstrom. In 2024, Intel will officially leave nanometer-scale process nodes behind and will begin to classify them with angstroms. The first chip, launched in the second half of that year (if all goes to plan), will be classed as using an Intel 20A node.
What is Intel 20A? It’s essentially 2nm, with 10a per nm, although it’s technically using a 5nm process by existing naming standards. It’s all a bit confusing, but the idea is to bring Intel’s process names to parity with its competitors and to give Intel greater scope for more gradual reductions in size, without delving into decimal places.
What do the nanometer and angstrom measurements mean?

All processors, whether they’re central, graphical, or otherwise, are built using a specific architectural design. That, in turn, is built atop a semiconductor manufacturing process, more commonly known as a process node, or node. The nanometer naming convention was initially used to measure the length of a transistor gate, and that typically correlated exactly with half the distance between individual transistors. In contemporary computing, there is far less correlation there, making the measurement more arbitrary.
Typically, smaller node sizes mean that there is a greater density of transistors on a processor, which in turn leads to faster processors. It’s not quite that cut and try, though, with Intel remaining on its 14nm process node on desktop for over five years, but it enhanced performance considerably over that time. AMD, on the other hand, moved from smaller process node to smaller process node, and saw incredible performance gains because of it, alongside other enhancements.
Due to the arbitrary nature of process-node naming at different manufacturers, and their differing process-node designs, however, the measurement today isn’t particularly indicative of anything. Smaller is better when comparing different process nodes from the same manufacturer, but it’s equally possible that a smaller node from one company may perform worse than that of a competitor with a larger process. This is most obvious in the case of Intel, where its 10nm process node features a transistor density almost twice that of TSMC’s 10nm process node, despite both bearing the same 10nm name.
What is Intel 20A and why is Intel moving to it?

With its latest roadmap, Intel didn’t just announce angstrom as a new naming convention for its chips in 2024, it also removed all mention of nanometers entirely. Its upcoming nodes will now be known by a simple number, with no qualifiers. These numbers are purely marketing spin, but they are designed to sit in line with Intel’s competitors that are around similar performance.
Intel took a lot of flak for its many years of struggling to produce 10nm process nodes at volume, while in conjunction, AMD was heavily praised for the performance gains made using TSMC 7nm process nodes. Other fabricators, like Samsung, have moved well beyond 10nm too, even if Intel processes and processors remain hotly competitive on almost all fronts. It’s losing the marketing war, and offering products built on comparatively performing but larger process nodes wasn’t good for its image. So it’s changing it.
Intel 20A is a rebranding of what was Intel’s 5nm process and will debut in 2024. It will be followed by Intel 18A in 2025, which would previously have been called its 5nm+ node.
The rebranding will begin much sooner, though. Intel’s upcoming Alder Lake processors, set to debut in late 2021, will use Intel’s newly renamed Intel 7 process node. This was previously set to be called Intel’s 10nm Enhanced Super Fin, or 10ESF process. Switching to a simple Intel 7 name is much more streamlined. That will be followed by Intel 4 and Intel 3 processes in the coming years, before the Intel 20A process comes to the fore.
Under the new branding scheme, the 20A node would have been called Intel 1, but will instead be the first entry in what Intel calls the new “angstrom era” of process fabrication, where the process nodes aren’t just smaller again — the transistors they’re built with will be vastly different. Intel’s own 20A design will feature multi-gate RibbonFET transistors. It may be that other manufacturers move to similar design changes around that time, but they will certainly be working with increasingly more dense and smaller processes. Intel’s new Angstrom naming convention gives it greater room to 18A and beyond in the years that follow.

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