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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  • abufrejoval - Friday, October 30, 2020 - link

    For me the most exciting features of Rocket and Tiger lake as well as Zen 3 seem to be the control flow extensions (CFI) with shadow stacks etc. as well as the multi-key per-VM memory encryption facilities.

    Unfortunately, there seems to be zero information yet on these topics, nothing on if this is compatible across the two or the level of support across server and client platforms.

    I sincerely hope that AMD will extend the per-VM memory encryption also to all client platforms, because the ability to run secured enclaves isn't limited to server use cases. From the hints on Tiger-Lake, Intel seems to regard all these security enhancing features as more global than ECC or AVX-n: Let's hope AMD does, too.

    Unfortunately one issue I have gets bigger and bigger as the two continue diverge in feature sets: Live migration of VMs, which is keeping me from mixing AMD and Intel in my infastructure, something I used to do 10 years ago.

    I'd love to get some [Ry]Zen into my lab, but it would partition the infrastructure in that regard: Too high a cost at a moment when Ryzen is more attractive than anything Intel can offer.
  • TelstarTOS - Friday, October 30, 2020 - link

    only 8 cores? Pass.
  • dustwalker13 - Sunday, November 1, 2020 - link

    With this thing out sometime in 2021 and the slides being several months old this very much looks like another case of:

    "Uh-oh, no one is talking about us while the competition is showing off one great product after another. Quick let us do a blog post ... oh no we did that two weeks ago to unsuccessfully try and get attention away from Zen3 ... let us just post this old internal PowerPoint on our next cpu ... who cares this will launch in half a year right?"
  • bill44 - Sunday, November 1, 2020 - link

    Wait. Will there be a 45W 8 core Tiger Lake and an 8 core 45W Rocket Lake available at the same time? Performance wise, what will be the difference?
    Also, if I understand this correctly, both Tiger Lake H and Rocket Lake H will have a 32EU XeLP vs 96EU on Tiger Lake U.
  • Spunjji - Monday, November 2, 2020 - link

    I don't think 45W Rocket Lake is happening anymore.

    You're right about the 32EU GPU, though.
  • fogifds - Monday, November 2, 2020 - link

    So Z590 is one gen only? I suppose Z390 was as well.

    Or are we expecting another delay with Alder Lake? Seems strange Intel will have two CPU releases in the same year. Although, Alder lake won't be available in volume until 2022 anyway, I'm sure.
  • Dr_b_ - Monday, November 9, 2020 - link

    Rocket Lake will beat Zen3 IPC, and on an older node
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