During a time of increased competitor activity, Intel has decided to disclose some of the high level details surrounding its next generation consumer processor, known as Rocket Lake or Intel’s 11th Gen Core. The new processor family is due in the market in the first quarter of 2021, and is expected to share a socket and motherboard compatibility with the current 10th Gen Comet Lake processors, providing an upgrade path even for those with a Core i9-10900K, Intel’s highest performing desktop processor to date. New 500-series motherboards are also expected to be available.

The new Rocket Lake-S silicon or SoC is going to be known as ‘Cypress Cove’. Intel confuses itself in the press release compared to the PDF presentation, as the press release dictates that this isn’t the core – it specifically states that the core microarchitecture is Ice Lake (Sunny Cove). However the presentation PDF says Cypress Cove is the core. In this instance, to be clear, Sunny Cove and Cypress Cove are set to be practically identical, however Sunny Cove is on 10nm and Cypress Cove is the back-ported variant on 14nm.

Paired with these cores will be the Tiger Lake graphics architecture, known as Xe-LP, which is also being backported from 10nm to 14nm for this product. The combined 14nm representation of Ice Lake cores and Xe-LP graphics is what is going to be known as Rocket Lake, (at least one of) the SoC(s) of the 11th Gen Core family.

With the new processors, Intel is targeting a raw instruction-per-clock uplift in the double digit range, which would be similar to the uplift we saw moving from Comet Lake to Intel’s Ice Lake mobile processors. Because of the node difference, the exact IPC change is likely to be lower than what we’ve seen before, but 10%+ is still highly respectable, especially if Intel is also able to maintain the high frequency it has achieved with the current generation of Comet Lake.

One of the benefits of moving to a back-ported Sunny Cove core will be the inclusion of the AVX-512 vector acceleration unit in Cypress Cove. This enables Intel to enable its library of Deep Learning Boost technologies for AI and ML acceleration, including support for Vector Neural Network Instructions (VNNI), finally bringing AVX-512 to the desktop platform.

However, to mix and match the right combination of core count, graphics, and AVX-512 for die size/yield/cost, it appears that Rocket Lake-S will only offer a maximum of eight cores in its largest configuration. Within the press release PDF, Intel stated that the current silicon as tested is rated for 125 W TDP, with a top turbo boost of 250 W, which matches what we see on the Core i9-10900K already. There’s no escaping the performance-per-watt characteristics of the process node, which indicates that Intel might find hitting those high frequencies a little easier with fewer cores to deal with. Intel is also promoting new overclocking tools with Rocket Lake, however did not go into details.

Another feature that Intel has disclosed with Rocket Lake is the move to PCIe Gen 4.0 on the processor, with up to 20 lanes available. These are likely to be split into one x16 for graphics and one x4 for storage on most motherboards, and this aligns with what we’ve seen on the latest generation of Intel Z490 motherboards, some of which have already promoted support for PCIe 4.0 ‘on future Intel processors’. This means Rocket Lake. Intel also mentions that the memory controller now supports up to DDR4-3200, however the projected performance numbers were done with DDR4-2933 memory.

On the graphics side, moving to the Xe-LP graphics architecture is going to be a big uplift in graphics performance, with Intel suggesting a 50% improvement over current Comet Lake integrated graphics. It is worth noting here in the slide that Intel mentions ‘UHD Graphics ft Xe Graphics Architecture’ – this would perhaps point to a scaled down version of Xe compared to Tiger Lake. I’m fully expecting to see only 32 EUs here, as a balance between die area, power, and performance. In the fine print it suggests that there will be some versions of Rocket Lake without the integrated graphics enabled, similar to the F processors we see on the market today.

That being said, for those units with integrated graphics, Intel is promoting new media 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, showcasing AV1 support for mainstream processors. Display resolution support has also increased, with up to three 4K60 displays or two 5K60 displays, supporting DP 1.4a (with HBR3) and HDMI 2.0b.

This was an unexpected news announcement this morning - speaking to peers it all seems to be a bit of a surprise - perhaps even for the PR teams, given that the system configurations as 'projected' in the slide above is dated 6th August, almost 3 months ago. It will be interesting to hear if Intel will disclose more details ahead of launch.

Source: Intel

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  • eastcoast_pete - Thursday, October 29, 2020 - link

    Desktop use and support by software is a chicken and egg problem; if you develop for laptop or desktop x86/x64, adding AVX512 use may not make much sense if most of your customers don't have CPUs that support it anyway. For Intel, AVX512 is one of their last real differentiators to AMD, so Intel pushing it hard makes sense. Reply
  • RSAUser - Thursday, October 29, 2020 - link

    Not sure it's a chicken or egg problem as most of those tasks are better handled by the GPU, or they're not something a consumer would really run. Reply
  • eastcoast_pete - Thursday, October 29, 2020 - link

    You're correct for some things, not so much for others. The virtual background for several videoconference applications currently use AVX/AVX2, but might be better with 512bit AVX. On the other hand, NVIDIA's new cards do an awesome job with background removal/replacement, but not everyone has one of those.
    As for general computing on GPU, that is and has been a big disappointment for me; still so few programs that make use of the enormous compute power even in iGPUs. Now, I am not a programmer, but maybe some people who are could explain why that hasn't materialized to the extent promised about 10 years ago. In the meantime, I take all the long/wide extensions on the CPU I can get my hand on.
    Reply
  • eastcoast_pete - Thursday, October 29, 2020 - link

    And, like most these days, I work on a company-issued laptop, no dGPU in sight or even allowed. So there, the CPU is "it". Reply
  • quorm - Thursday, October 29, 2020 - link

    Most code runs better or good enough on cpu. Running things on gpu adds overhead and makes the code more complex. Its only really worth it for things that lend themselves well to parallelization (such as matrix math) and also consume a lot of computation time. The video/image processing you mention is a good example. Reply
  • Gigaplex - Friday, October 30, 2020 - link

    The biggest problem with AVX is that it's segmented to the point that software developers can't rely on it being present. Also, maybe some software developers want to be able to write and test their code on mainstream laptops even if the production code will eventually target other environments. Reply
  • quadibloc - Friday, October 30, 2020 - link

    I've been waiting for Intel to do this. Having wider floating-point was a major Intel advantage over Bulldozer, and over the first generation of Ryzen. So I expect this chip to be the one that takes the lead in single-core desktop performance back for Intel, marking the occasion of Intel being back in the game. Of course, since it's taken so long, AMD may well have the resources to keep up. Reply
  • quadibloc - Friday, October 30, 2020 - link

    Except it's still 14nm and not 10nm. So we may have to wait a little longer before Intel gets back in the game. Reply
  • DannyH246 - Friday, October 30, 2020 - link

    Because they don't have anything else. They want to be able to say they have something that AMD doesn't. Reply
  • brucethemoose - Thursday, October 29, 2020 - link

    Could y'all confirm that the platform supports AV1 encoding, and not just decoding?

    As far as I know that would make Rocket Lake the first platform with hardware AV1 encoding.
    Reply

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