Intel is hoping to steal some of AMD’s Ryzen 5000 series thunder with a few early teasers about its own next-gen CPU architecture, which will be used for the 11th Gen Core CPU series, scheduled to launch in Q1 2021. Codenamed ‘Rocket Lake’, the 11th Gen Core i9, Core i7, Core i5 and Core i3 family will be a major break from Intel’s past several generations, all of which have been only iterative refreshes of the 6th Gen 14nm ‘Skylake’ architecture. Intel has had to deal with numerous delays and disappointments in its efforts to develop smaller 10nm CPUs, which has resulted in the unprecedented longevity of 14nm, while AMD has been shipping 7nm chips for over a year now.
Rocket Lake will also be a 14nm product line, but the new architecture it will use is codenamed ‘Cypress Cove’. This is essentially a 14nm backport of the more modern 10nm ‘Sunny Cove’ core architecture, which was the foundation of last year’s 10th Gen ‘Ice Lake’ laptop CPUs. Rocket Lake will also feature an implementation of Intel’s brand new Xe integrated graphics hardware, though it is not clear whether this means Intel will return to offering integrated graphics on all desktop CPUs.
Intel touts a “double-digit percentage IPC performance improvement” compared to the 10th Gen, referring to instructions per clock cycle as a measure of efficiency. Graphics power is also said to be 50 percent higher compared to current offerings. Absolute performance figures and benchmark results are yet to be disclosed.
Top-end Rocket Lake models will feature a maximum of 8 cores with Hyper-Threading, while AMD currently offers up to 16 cores in its mainstream lineup. Even Intel’s current 10th Gen Core i9-10900K has 10 cores.
Other specifications and platform-level changes include support for up to DDR4-3200 RAM, up to 20 PCIe 4.0 CPU lanes, more flexible overclocking parameters, VNNI acceleration for deep learning applications, native USB 3.2×2 (20Gbps), and improved media encoder logic. New motherboards with Intel 500-series chipsets will ship along with 11th Gen Core desktop CPUs, but they should be backward compatible with existing 400-series motherboards as well.
AMD’s Ryzen 5000 series, including the top-end 16-core Ryzen 5 5950X are set to go on sale globally on November 5. Based on the new Zen 3 architecture, these CPUs promise a 19 percent gen-on-gen IPC rise and up to 26 percent better performance in games.