At its InnovatiON virtual event, Intel has released the much-anticipated and hyped 12th gen Alder Lake desktop processors. There are 6 new models in Core i9, Core i7, and Core i5 series. All are based on x86 architecture and Intel 7 node, which was previously called Intel 10 nm Enhanced SuperFin process. They are unlocked and ready to be overclocked. And more interestingly bring a hybrid design (like ARM’s big.LITTLE architecture, that you get to see in smartphones and such) involving P(performance)-cores and E(efficiency)-cores. Although, at the moment, Intel is introducing these chipsets for desktop-class gaming machines and workstations only.

We will get into the weeds soon, but for now, here’s a quick lay of the land:

Intel Alder Lake: Price, Availability, and Specs

The top-end i9 model starts at a price of $589 (~₹43,380) per 1000 units. The retail pricing might differ. Anyways, these chips will be available from November 4.

ModelCores
P+E
ThreadsP-core (Base-Turbo GHz)E-core
(Base-Turbo GHz)
L3 CacheIntel Graphics ProcessingProcessor Base Power
Watts
Maximum Turbo Power
Watts
Price (per 1000 units)
i9-12900K8+8=16243.2-5.22.4-3.930MBIntel UHD 770125241$589
i9-12900KF8+8=16243.2-5.22.4-3.930MB125241$564
i7-12700K8+4=12203.6-5.02.7-3.825MBIntel UHD 770125190$409
i7-12700KF8+4=12203.6-5.02.7-3.825MB125190$384
i5-12600K6+4=10163.7-4.92.8-3.620MBIntel UHD 770125150$289
i5-12600KF6+4=10163.7-4.92.8-3.620MB125150$264

As you can see in the table above, the KF variants lack integrated Intel XE LP UHD 700 graphics and hence are priced lower.

The top-shelf Core i9 CPUs come with 16 cores (8 P-cores + 8 E-cores), while the next-in-line Core i7 models get 12 cores (8 P-cores + 4 E-cores) and lastly, Core i5 models sport 10 cores (6 P-cores + 4 E-cores).

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There is hyperthreading too, but it is limited to P-cores. And the order of scheduling is determined by a software called Thread Director which assigns tasks first to P-cores, then E-cores, and when those two aren’t enough, the hyper-threading capability of P-cores comes into play. Note that this feature is limited to Windows 11 only. Intel says it has worked closely with Microsoft to specially tune Thread Director.

For even more smooth performance, there is a dedicated L2 cache for P-cores and a shared L2 cache for four E-cores. These L2 cache modules draw memory from the L3 cache.

Now, the new things don’t stop there. Alder Lake also features a new Platform Controller named Z690 and a new socket called LGA1700. Intel has attached to them up to 128GB (dual-channel) DDR5-4800MT/s (or DDR5-3200MT/s) for RAM, and up to 16 lanes of PCIe 5.0 for storage. There is also support for Wi-Fi 6E and USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 data speeds.

Intel is also separating Thermal Design Power (TDP) into Processor Base Power and Maximum Turbo Power, which would be disclosed here on. So, if a processor is given 241 watts of power, it should be able to hit the claimed 5.2GHz Turbo P-core performance. This offers more clarity to desktop PC users and builders.

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Intel i9-12900K boasts 19% performance gains from P-cores and 50% better multi-threaded results as compared to i9-11900K, that too at a slightly lower 241W Maximum Turbo Power consumption. And all in all, Intel claims this as “the world’s best gaming processor”. Let’s wait and see how they fare in reality.

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