Intel: Rocket Lake will mix Ice Lake CPU architecture, Tiger Lake graphics

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Intel: Rocket Lake will mix Ice Lake CPU architecture, Tiger Lake graphics

Intel revealed that its upcoming 11th-generation Core S-Series processors will feature a new core architecture that combines Ice Lake core architecture with Tiger Lake graphics to provide a double-digit performance improvement in instructions per clock.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based company dropped the new information Thursday on the new processors, code-named Rocket Lake, saying they will feature enhanced Intel UHD graphics that will use the company’s new Xe GPU architecture, which is projected to provide a 50 percent performance hike over Intel’s Gen9 graphics that is used for ninth-generation Intel Core processors.

Rocket Lake processors are due out in the first quarter of 2021 and “will deliver amazing performance and flexibility to meet a range of needs for gamers and content creators,” Intel said.

The new core architecture is called Cypress Cove, and it combines a version of Intel’s Ice Lake core architecture that has been ported to a 14-nanometer process from 10nm with the company’s graphics architecture used in the company’s new Tiger Lake laptop processors. The company said Cypress Cove supports up to eight cores and 16 threads.

Other new features include first-time support for PCIe 4.0 in an Intel desktop processor, with up to 20 lanes that can support direct CPU attach for both SSDs and discrete graphics cards. Rocket Lake will also come with new media encoders for 4K, 60-frames-per-second video; increased display support for up to three 4k monitors or two 5K monitors; Intel Deep Learning Boost; and DDR4-3200 memory support.

The new processors, for which Intel promises improved performance over 10th-generation Core processors, will be supported by a new Intel 500 Series chipset.

In a recent interview with CRN, Intel PC sales executive Steve Long said the processors were on track in the coming weeks to reach the final stage of validation, known as product release qualification, that is required before high-volume manufacturing can begin.

“It’s a completely new core architecture—Xe graphics architecture in it—with the same ecosystem-level enablement and optimizations that you see on the notebook side,” he said.

Long said Intel will apply the same level of ambition it has with Project Athena—a new program Intel uses to specify standards for high-performance, ultrathin laptops—to Rocket Lake. But while laptops validated under Project Athena carry Intel’s new Evo brand, that will not be the case for desktops.

“That is a journey that we believe is the future,” he said. “You will see the ambition of delivering experiences on desktop platforms. Will you see the level of ecosystem things that we’re doing to enable that on the notebook? I think we’re going to use the notebook to pull the entire ecosystem.”

Kevin Wasielewski, CEO of Origin PC, a Miami-based PC system builder and Intel partner for the enthusiast market that is owned by PC hardware vendor Corsair, said the increased competition between Intel and AMD in the desktop arena is good news for channel partners.

“The consumer wins. We win because we can give our customers more options,” he said.

Earlier this month, AMD revealed that its forthcoming Ryzen 5000 desktop processors can close the gap in single-threaded performance with Intel’s current 10th-generaiton Intel processors—but Wasielewski said he’s confident Intel will find a way to hit back.

Beyond the technology itself, Wasielewski said, Intel has other strengths that makes the chipmaker a strong partner for Origin PC, including its brand power, reliability and support. As a strategic partner, Origin PC also has access to company executives and marketing resources.

“You know exactly what you’re getting with an Intel processor and an Intel platform,” he said. “It’s going to be super stable. It’s going to last for an extremely long amount of time. It’s going to be backed by great support.

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