Intel has been dividing its mainstream processors into two different pricing/performance tiers for years. There are mainstream and high-performance laptop, tablet, and desktop chips that are part of the company’s Core series (with the inclusion of some Celeron and Pentium Gold models at the cheaper end), and there are low-cost, low-power Celeron and Pentium Silver chips based on Intel Atom architecture.
Now details about Intel’s next-gen low-power Celeron and Pentium Silver chips, code-named Alder Lake-N have started to leak.
These are the sorts of chips that are often found in Chromebooks and budget Windows laptops or mini PCs, and the most recent processors in this line are Intel’s Jasper Lake chips with Intel Tremont CPU cores, including the Intel Celeron N4500, Celeron N5100, and Pentium Silver N6000 processors.
But this year’s lineup could look a little different, with new chips featuring more CPU cores and higher-performance graphics. And you may be able to thank Intel’s new hybrid chips for that.
Intel’s 12th-gen Core processors, code-named Alder Lake, incorporate two different types of CPU cores: high performance CPU cores based on the new Golden Cove Core architecture and energy efficient chips based on the new Atom-based Gracemont architecture. The idea is that most Alder Lake chips can use the efficient cores to save power when they’re all that’s needed, use the performance cores when you need the extra power, and use all cores together for an even bigger boost in multi-core performance.
The new Gracemont CPU cores bring a pretty significant performance boost over Jasper Lake chips, offering the kind of horsepower you would have expected from a Core processor a few years ago. And Intel’s Alder Lake lineup pairs up to 8 of those CPU cores with one or more Golden Cove cores.
According to information gleaned from a partial boot log of an unannounced device with an Alder Lake-N processor, it looks like Alder Lake-N chips will basically be what you get if you take a 12th-gen Core processor and leave out the Golden Cove cores altogether.
That means you get up to 8 Gracemont CPU cores, with no support for hyperthreading, so an 8-core chip supports 8 threads.
It also looks like we can expect Alder Lake-N chips to feature Intel Gen12 integrated graphics with 32 execution units and support for encoding and decoding AV1, H.264, and H.265 videos as well as 8K video at 60 frames per second.
That could make laptops, tablets, or mini PCs with Alder Lake-N chips a good fit for home media center or digital signage applications, but you’re probably going to want to look elsewhere for gaming or video editing applications.
Intel hasn’t announce when Alder Lake-N chips will be available, but with the first laptops powered by 45-watt Alder Lake-H laptop processors just starting to ship and 28-watt Alder Lake-U and 9-15 watt Alder Lake-P devices having yet to ship at all, it will likely be a little while.