Intel’s first foray into hybrid processors that combine different types of CPU cores in a single chip wasn’t all that exciting due to lackluster performance and a focus on efficiency for thin, light, and fanless computers. But it looks like the next Hybrid chip could pack a lot more horsepower.
The company’s upcoming Alder Lake chips are expected to launch by the end of the year, and based on leaked benchmarks and roadmaps, it looks like we can expect chips with up to 14 CPU cores and 20 threads. The new chips are such a departure from what came before that Intel is even phasing out the U and H series names for most of its laptop chips and instead introducing Alder Lake-M and Alder Lake-P chips.
Earlier this year, details for an unspecified Alder Lake P processor showed up at the online benchmarking site GeekBench, which listed these properties for the chip:
- 14 cores
- 20 threads
- 800 MHz base frequency
- 4.69 GHz max frequency
- 24MB L3 cache
- GPU with 96 execution units and 1.15 GHz max frequency
Now a leaked product roadmap shared by Wccftech provides more details about the Alder Lake-P and Alder Lake-M families:
- Alder Lake-M: 7-15 watt chips with up to 2 high-performance cores and 8 energy-efficient cores, these chips will replace Intel’s 11th-gen Tiger Lake-UP4 chips like the Core i5-1130G7.
- Alder Lake-P: 12-45W chips with up to 6 performance cores and 8 efficiency cores, these will replace Intel Tiger Lake-U, Tiger Lake-H35, and Tiger Lake-H45 processors.
The high-performance CPU cores will feature Intel Golden Cove architecture, which is the follow-up to the Willow Cove architecture used in 11th-gen Intel Tiger Lake chips, while the energy-efficient cores use Intel Gracemont architecture, the follow-up to the Tremont architecture used in low-power, low-performance chips like the Celeron N4500 and Pentium Silver N6000 Jasper Lake processors.
The Gracemont cores do not support hyperthreading, but the Golden Cove cores do, which means that the reason you get configurations with up to 14 cores and 20 thread is that the 6 performance + 8 efficiency setup would only support hyperthreading for the six bigger cores. Thus you get 12 threads from those 6 cores, but just 8 threads from Gracemont cores.
Alder Lake-P and Alder Lake-M chips are both expected to feature Intel Iris Xe graphics with up to 96 execution units, so graphics performance should be at least on par with what we’ve come to expect from PCs with Intel Tiger Lake-U processors.
Other features expected to be available for both chip families include support for Thunderbolt 4 and WiFi 6E. But the lower-power Alder Lake-M chips will be limited to PCIe Gen 4, while Alder Lake-P is said to support PCIe Gen 5.0.
While we’ll likely have to wait a little longer to get a sense of whether the update brings real-world performance gains over Intel’s 11th-gen Tiger Lake processors, we can practically be certain that Intel’s next hybrid processor lineup will outperform the previous-gen Lakefield processors, which combined a single Intel Sunny Cove (Ice Lake) high-performance core with four energy-efficient Tremont (Atom) CPU cores. The result was a chip that behaved more like an entry-level Atom-based processor than an Intel Core Y-series chip most of the time, despite appearing in premium thin and light laptops.
Hopefully increasing the core counts, thread counts, and CPU frequencies will result in stronger performance for Alder Lake-M and Alder Lake-P.
This article was originally published February 2, 2021 and last update October 5, 2021.