Intel ‘Elder Lake’ 12th Gen core i9, core i7, and Core i5 CPUs have been launched for gaming, workstation, and enthusiasts’ desktop PCs. Six models have been launched, all of which are unlockable and overclockable.
These new CPUs are the first in the ‘Elder lake’ family and offer a mix of heterogeneous performance and efficiency cores for the first time in a consumer x86 PC. It also marks the arrival of DDR5 RAM and the PCle 5.0 interconnect standard. Intel has yet to announce the availability of 12th generation CPUs for the other segments such as laptops, although the company has said that additional desktop CPU models will follow in early 2022.
The new 12th Gen ‘Elder Lake’ CPUs will feature a mix of two different core types, which Intel is calling the ‘Performance Hybrid Architecture’. It works in much the same way the ARM-based Smartphone processors have been developed for many years now. This single architecture will serve Intel’s entire consumer CPU ranger with a variety of core types.
Prices in the US range from $538 (about Rs. 47,000 before taxes) to $264 (about Rs.19, 445 before taxes) for the Core i5-12600KF’s top-end Core i9-12900K. Models without graphics capabilities cost slightly less than their counterparts with integrated GPUs. These prices are per 1000 units, and may not reflect retail prices. Intel has said it expects strong retail availability despite global semiconductor shortages, and several PC OEMs are on board to ship pre-built desktops as well.
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The new ‘Golden Cove’ Performance (P) core replaces the ‘Willow Cove’ core in the existing ‘Tiger lake’ architecture, while the ‘Gracemont’ Efficiency (E) core architecture can be considered a descendant of the erstwhile Intel Atom CPU range. Intel's first hybrid CPU, codenamed ‘Lakefield’, was launched in 2020 but has seen very few actual shipping devices. The 12th generation desktop Core i9 CPUs announced so far will feature 16 cores (8P+8E), while the core i7 models have 12 cores (8P + 4E) and the core i5 model has 10 cores (6P + 4E).
While the P core is intended to handle highly-impact lightly threaded workloads, background tasks, and more multi-threaded tasks can be delegated to the E core. Also, P cores continue to benefit from hyper-threading, allowing two threads to run concurrently, but not E cores, So 12th gen core CPUs will have non-linear core thread counts. To balance the workloads and ensure that each type of core is assigned optimum work.
Intel has developed a new dynamic scheduler it calls Thread Director. This requirement is Windows 11, and Intel says that performance will not be as optimized on Windows 10 or other operating systems. The thread director will first support the P core, then the E core, and only once saturated will the threads be assigned to the P core’s hyper-threading capability.
Each P core has its own L2 cache, while clusters of four E cores share their L2 cache. These feed into a common L3 cache, allowing for quick transfer of data and low latency in optimal workloads for each core type. CPUs without the F-suffix will also include integrated Intel UHD 770 graphics, which are based on the XE LP architecture.
The new Z690 platform controller is introduced and 12th gen core desktop CPUs use a new, larger LGA1700 socket. Platform-level features for this generation include the first use of DDR5 RAM, with official support going up to 128GB (dual-channel) at 4800 MT/s with an h XMP 3.0 profile. DDR4 – 3200 RAM is also supported, and motherboard manufacturers will decide which standard to go with on each model. The elder lake CPUs support up to 16 lanes of PCle 5.0, which doubles the bandwidth of PCle 4.0. New CPU and RAM overclocking controls have also been introduced.
Intel claims a 19 percent gen-on-gen performance improvement for the P core. The Core i9-12900K is said to deliver 50 percent more multi-threaded performance than the core i9-11900k with slightly less than 241 W of peak power consumption compared to 250w. At rated 125W stock, TDP, performance is up to 30 percent better, while the same level of performance can be achieved within the 65W power range.
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