Intel introduces its 12th-gen Alder Lake desktop CPUs

Intel's latest processors offer support for DDR5 memory and PCI-E Gen 5.

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Earlier today, Intel took the opportunity to formally introduce its newest generation of consumer desktop processors, dubbed Alder Lake. Alder Lake will be sold under Intel’s 12th-gen branding along with the new Z690 motherboard platform. These new CPUs and motherboards are the first to support DDR5 memory and PCI-E Gen 5.

The initial Alder Lake offering will consist of six CPU models. These parts are aimed at hardcore gamers and enthusiasts as they offer the highest possible performance, but also bring a premium price. More budget-oriented options in the 12th-gen Alder Lake family of CPUs are expected to come early next year. Today’s launch is headlined by the Core i9-12900K which serves as the flagship CPU of the line. It features 16 cores and 24 threads. The 11th-gen flagship CPU, the Core i9-11900K had 8 cores and sixteen threads.

Alder Lake is a notable release for Intel because it marks the first wide release of products built on Intel’s 7 process (10nm), allowing for higher performance and efficiency when matched against its previous 14nm process. Intel has been launching CPUs on the 14nm process dating back to early 2015 and the release of the Core i7-6700K. 

The new 12th-gen processors are also notable for featuring a completely new architecture that Intel refers to as a hybrid design. It pairs Performance cores (P-Cores) with Efficient cores (E-Cores). Intel’s Thread Director intelligently distributes workloads across CPU threads for the best possible performance. Intel claims this new hybrid design has pushed its 12th-gen parts to new performance heights. The Core i9-12900K is said to offer massive gen-over-gen gains in gaming performance. Intel specifically mentioned a nearly 30 percent fps boost in Hitman 3 and a nearly 25 percent boost in Far Cry 6 when compared to the 11th-gen Core i9-11900K.

Along with the new CPUs comes the 600-series motherboard chipsets. The first on shelves will be the enthusiast-oriented Z690. The Z690 chipset offers support for new DDR5 memory modules, PCI-E Gen 5 (up to 16 lanes), Thunderbolt 4, and Intel’s Killer Wi-Fi 6E. Support for all the newest USB standards is included. Z690 also offers Intel VMD on consumer-level hardware for the first time. This allows direct control and management of NVMe-based SSDs from the PCIe bus without additional RAID controllers or other hardware adaptors.

The 12th-gen Alder Lake parts will officially go on sale on November 4 and many retailers have begun accepting pre-orders already. For the full list of new CPUs, including part numbers, features, and pricing, you can visit Intel’s official Alder Lake landing page.

Contributing Tech Editor

Chris Jarrard likes playing games, crankin' tunes, and looking for fights on obscure online message boards. He understands that breakfast food is the only true food. Don't @ him.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    October 27, 2021 11:45 AM

    Chris Jarrard posted a new article, Intel introduces its 12th-gen Alder Lake desktop CPUs

    • reply
      October 27, 2021 9:33 AM

      Intel Alder Lake specs and pricing

      https://b2c-contenthub.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Speeds-feed-prices.png?quality=50&strip=all

      Guy Therien, an Intel fellow, noted that the Core i9-12900K can be run at 65W, and still deliver the performance of the Core i9-11900K at 250W.

      article source - https://www.pcworld.com/article/546076/intel-alder-lake-12th-gen-core-speeds-prices.html


      Can't wait for actual benchmarks.

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        October 27, 2021 9:36 AM

        Kick in the pants will be DDR5 pricing, and new motherboards.

        What will be nice are the fact that DDR4 support will exist (not on highest end boards), and Xeons based off this may support similar DDR4/5 split. Anyone looking at used workstation setups (in a few years' time) can get a relative bargain for home builds.

        Bring on the benchmarks!

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          October 27, 2021 10:44 AM

          They 12th gen CPUs still support DDR4. Remains to be seen if there will be any performance penalty for not using DDR5 though.

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            October 27, 2021 11:26 AM

            In time, probably, but early memory at a new spec usually has poor timings and whatnot compared to what comes with maturity, so maybe not at launch.

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              October 27, 2021 11:29 AM

              DDR4 spec'd, right now, is faster than DDR5. DDR5 will ramp up in speeds, but this is another transition platform, and the more mature one is generally going to be better.

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                October 27, 2021 12:22 PM

                Yeah, that's what I was getting at. It was the case when DDR4 was new, too.

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          October 27, 2021 11:37 AM

          Yup. I am dreading what the final price of a new alder lake build will come to. My PC is can last a bit longer but she's definitely showing signs of getting tired.

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            October 27, 2021 11:41 AM

            I'm just hoping that AL doesn't also need newer PSUs!

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              October 27, 2021 12:40 PM

              You referring to that new 10-pin ATX12VO intel power spec? I've been looking at the announced boards so far and I've yet to see it. I'm just going by looking at various gallery shots but did this new power connector end up relegated to OEMS only?

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                October 27, 2021 12:42 PM

                Given PSU makers and motherboard makers would both have to buy in at the same time I'd guess Intel just hasn't had many takers yet.

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              October 27, 2021 5:11 PM

              it doesn't, but ASUS showed off new PSUs today, that do have PCIe 5 power connectors (the new 12 pin Nvidia FE cards have)

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        October 27, 2021 9:36 AM

        I know I should have assumed today was paper launch day and not actual reviews - but I was hoping for stealth full launch.

        Oh well, the other leaked date is Nov 4, supposedly the same day you can click buy.

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        October 27, 2021 9:44 AM

        That’s a pretty big deal if it holds up.

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        October 27, 2021 10:15 AM

        12 cores but 20 threads. So 4 cores are single and 8 are multithreaded?

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          October 27, 2021 10:20 AM

          yeah presumably the low power cores don't support simultaneous multithreading. supporting this tends to cost a bunch of power and hurts the max frequency.

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            October 27, 2021 10:25 AM

            Low power cores do not support threads, and none of the chips support AVX (for those that care).

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              October 27, 2021 10:52 AM

              It seems that the P-cores have AVX support in the silicon, but it's switched off because they couldn't figure out a way to get schedulers to respect that the E-Cores don't.

              I read that somewhere at least, and it kinda tracks I think.

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          October 27, 2021 11:27 AM

          Yeah, their big little strategy. Some powe efficient cores, some full power cores.

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        October 27, 2021 10:49 AM

        Some of the numbers they are giving in relation to AMD performance on Windows 11 are sketchy given Microsoft and Intel collaborated for awhile and there were performance decreases for AMD products just from going Windows 10 to 11. They have since fixed it, but I'd wait for third party benchmarking. That being said, it looks like these will be pretty awesome chips.

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          October 27, 2021 11:28 AM

          I'm sure they'll be good, but I'd bet AMD's strategy ends up better in the long run.

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            October 27, 2021 11:35 AM

            I kinda feel like gaming will still be better in AMD chips, but I'm kinda stoked for competition.

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              October 27, 2021 12:20 PM

              We'll know in a few days. I'm curious how much the Win 11 scheduler BS impacted their claims vs. AMD.

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        October 27, 2021 10:50 AM

        Planning on the i9 12th gen to replace my 8700k once I see benchies

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        October 27, 2021 11:35 AM

        This data is from windows 11, pre AMD patch, and relies heavily on the windows 11 scheduler. Potentially serious issues with backcompat, unless patched obviously. Looks like a good step forward but don’t trust Intel’s marketing.

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        October 27, 2021 11:36 AM

        Alder Lake is the first product where Intel gets a chance to START making amends for their past fuckups but they still have a long way to go. I want to know more about their upcoming graphics cards because I haven't heard anything concrete in a while.

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        October 27, 2021 11:47 AM

        So are these still on 12nm or whatever, same as last gen?

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          October 27, 2021 11:49 AM

          10nm, all new process, but the CPUs can't be *that* different.

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        October 27, 2021 12:27 PM

        lots of rumours suggesting huge uplifts. despite being AMD this gen, i'm cautiously optimistic - competition is always good.

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          October 27, 2021 12:41 PM

          Excited to see what Ryzen 4 has in store. Probably see that in the spring?

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            October 27, 2021 12:45 PM

            there's an impending refresh for the 5000 series, 3d cache or somesuch. i think it'll likely be a direct competitor (timeframe wise) to alder lake.

            6000 series i'm not so sure on.

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          October 27, 2021 12:43 PM

          Seriously everyone wins if Intel can compete again. AMD already is readying it's mid cycle and next gen responses. Between these Alderlake cpus and Intel looking to be ready to provide mid-upper tier GPU options we are going to finally have some new (old) competition in the game again.

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            October 27, 2021 5:16 PM

            ooof, no. shhhhh, don't say that around the internet. AMD got one major leg up and so many people wanted to see intel tank, they were convinced it would never ever ever do anything remotely good ever again.

            let them continue to live in a world where an AMD without competition is somehow their best friend and out only to make them happy.

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        October 27, 2021 12:53 PM

        Hopefully the next decade+ will be AMD and Intel going back and forth. Reminds me of the late 90s/early 00s era.

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        October 27, 2021 12:56 PM

        EVGA Z690 Kingpin - this motherboard looks amazing, not sure why there's only two ram slots though.

        https://cdn.wccftech.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/Z690-dark-1480x1480.png

        https://wccftech.com/evga-unveils-z690-dark-kingpin-z690-classified-motherboards/

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          October 27, 2021 12:58 PM

          I do like the move to side angle power plugs on the MB.

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          October 27, 2021 1:33 PM

          Extreme overclocking boards have two RAM slots because it enables higher memory frequencies. Only having one slot per memory channel makes the electrical signal cleaner.

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          October 28, 2021 5:47 AM

          Because DDR5 is confusing as fuck..

          If the motherboard has two memory slots total, then the maximum support is DDR5-4800 in any configuration.
          If the motherboard has four memory slots total, then the maximum support is DDR5-4400 when two slots are filled with any memory.
          If all four memory slots are filled, single rank memory will support up to DDR5-4000.
          If all four memory slots are filled, dual-rank memory will support up to DDR5-3600.

          https://www.anandtech.com/show/16959/intel-innovation-alder-lake-november-4th/4

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        October 27, 2021 12:59 PM

        Blocking third party reviews until launch day is a little suspect IMO. Particularly since if you wait to see benchmarks the damn things will be out of stock.

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          October 27, 2021 1:08 PM

          Seems like a standard practice. I wouldn't give it much thought.

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            October 27, 2021 1:43 PM

            Yeah I mean didn't Nvidia do that with the 30 series too?

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              October 27, 2021 1:49 PM

              Not exactly. They gave preview units to a few places (Digital Foundry being a big one, IIRC) prior even to the 30 series announcement, with the caveat that they couldn't report specific framerate numbers, only percentage differences. So DF could say the 3080 is 70% faster than the 2080 in such-and-such a game, but not that the game went from 40 fps to 78 fps.

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          October 27, 2021 1:10 PM

          prices seem competitive and all the rumours have been pretty consistent, i think this is a hit in a similar way that the 10th gen i5s were a hit: performance and cost are good, but power is still a sore spot.

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          October 27, 2021 1:18 PM

          AMD did the exact same thing this time last year for Zen 3. This is just how they both roll 🤷‍♂️

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          October 27, 2021 1:46 PM

          Places just got the chips today so this gives smaller channels a chance to test.

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        October 27, 2021 2:07 PM

        Can't wait to be unable to find one to buy!

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        October 27, 2021 2:07 PM

        here's a list of 12th gen pre-builts, motherboards, RAM kits, and coolers - shit is expensive!

        https://wccftech.com/heres-where-you-can-pre-order-intels-12th-gen-alder-lake-desktop-cpus-z690-motherboards-ddr5-memory-kits-lga-1700-coolers/

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        October 27, 2021 2:39 PM

        Every time I get tempted I look at 4k benchmarks and even on the very latest games the RTX 3080 is the bottleneck, not the CPU. We'll see how Alder Lake shakes out but I can't imagine that it would provide enough uplift in 4k over my 7700k. If I was gaming at 1440p it would be a different story but I'm maxing out on my GPU.

        It also doesn't help that DDR5 is holy shit expensive, more than double the price of DDR4

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          October 27, 2021 2:59 PM

          Even in those slides they're only showing performance differences at 1080p. I assume those uplift bars are flat at 4k.

          No doubt that these would be much better for content creation and serious multitasking. I only really use my PC for gaming though and its very tempting to just ride this 7700k until DirectStorage finally becomes more of a thing

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            October 27, 2021 3:05 PM

            i don't disagree, but as someone who has been trying like hell to maintain 144hz@1080p in CPU heavy games (*cough* warzone), there is a market for this stuff.

            but yeah, the GPU remains the most important part of a gaming rig. shame there's little competition there, so i'll take intel getting competitive as "good news".

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              October 27, 2021 3:29 PM

              Definitely, it’s just very weird how one can ride out so many CPU upgrade cycles if they’re gaming at 4k and even save money in the process despite gaming at such a high resolution. If someone is gaming at 1080p or even 1440p then its certainly a big boost!

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                October 27, 2021 3:31 PM

                That said, no doubt that any jitters from improving the bottom percent of lowest frames would make things even smoother. The question is if that is worth $1000+ when average framerate remains close.

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                  October 27, 2021 3:37 PM

                  Yeah it's tough. I went 2600->5600 and it was 100% worth it, but I literally got to keep everything but the CPU. The calculus gets complicated when that bump includes a wholesale platform change.

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                    October 27, 2021 3:43 PM

                    It’ll make more sense once the RTX 3080 at 4k stops being a bottleneck, sort of like how the 2500k got stretched for so long because everything was so GPU bound for a while

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                      October 27, 2021 3:58 PM

                      Yeah I think you'll be good for a while in those conditions. It basically comes down to picking your bottleneck and where that intersects with your wallet, and at 4K and that GPU, it's almost certainly not this gen.

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        October 27, 2021 3:31 PM

        Here's der8auer delidding a 12900k

        https://youtu.be/ExPdq4yX2OI

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          October 27, 2021 3:38 PM

          Sucks that he killed the CPU by mistake.. I'd be soo pissed at myself if I killed a brand new CPU.

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        October 27, 2021 4:33 PM

        I have this feeling that we will see more mainstream computers go for $4k-$5k that previous modern Intel systems.

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