big.LITTLE on Intel Alder Lake architecture is a significant increase in the number of cores
In recent years, Intel has started to stand out a bit from AMD, which by opting for TSMC has achieved an advantage in the production process that makes many things easier. However, the upcoming Alder Lake and Raptor Lake processors will once again raise the bar, among others. thanks to the big.LITTLE architecture.
Does Big.LITTLE make sense on x86?
The big.LITTLE architecture is not new, in smartphones that use ARM processors it is a standard today. Everyone uses this solution, from Qualcomm to Apple. This solution consists in that in the processor we have, for example, 8 cores, 4 of them are more efficient and more “energy hungry”, and 4 are cheap, but somewhat less efficient and have lower clock speeds. This makes it possible to achieve a long battery life and good performance when needed.
It is widely believed that the x86 architecture is not very suitable for this type of solution, because an operating system like Windows will not be able to properly separate threads. Intel, however, believes it can handle it on its own, so the Alder Lake processors will use a hardware thread management mechanism that will operate independently of the operating system. The new version of Windows, which is expected to debut later this year, is rumored to improve a bit in this regard. Thanks to this, Alder Lake promises to be a big step for Intel on the path to hybrid architecture.
Intel Alder Lake
Intel is currently working on two new core architectures. Golden Cove is a new high-speed core that is expected to provide up to 20% more IPC performance compared to the Tiger Lake architecture at the same clock speed. Alder Lake processors can have up to 8 of these cores, and each of them will be able to handle 2 threads at the same time. But that’s not all, the processor will also be equipped with Gracemont cores, a new budget core architecture that will have slightly lower performance, but also lower power consumption. There will also be even 8 such cores, but they will only be single threaded. Thanks to this, Alder Lake systems will be able to handle up to 24 threads simultaneously, which can give them a significant advantage in some applications and allow them to compete more effectively with AMD Ryzen processors.
According to Intel, the increase in performance can be up to two times greater compared to current Tiger Lake processors, and thanks to improved 10nm lithography (Enhanced SuperFin) processors, these chips can also be clocked higher. Alder Lake will also give us support for PCIe 5.0, a new support: LGA1700 and support for DDR5 memory. Therefore, there are quite a few changes.
The first processors of the new architecture will go to desktop computers this time and, according to the latest information, they will be presented later this year. First, there will be the most efficient systems with an integrated GPU based on Xe technology and equipped with 32 computing units, which is similar to the current one. The Core i9-K family will have 8 Golden Cove cores and 8 Gracemont cores, Core i7-K 8 and 4 respectively, and Core i5-K – 6 and 4 cores. Thanks to this, even the Core i5 will be able to handle up to 16 threads simultaneously. At the beginning of next year the Core i5 models will appear without the K-note, which in the i5 version will have only 6 Golden Cove cores, and in the Core i3 only 4 of those cores. Here, therefore, Intel does not change tactics.
Alder Lake’s first mobile chips will be announced at CES 2022, the main difference from desktop systems being fewer fast cores and a much more powerful integrated graphics chip equipped with 96 computing units. H-series chips with TDP up to 45W will have up to 6 Golder Cove cores and 8 Gracemont cores, and U-series processors will get a 2 + 8 configuration. It will be similar in the cheaper chip segment with a TDP. from 7-12 W. In the middle of the year, Intel will showcase mobile processors from the HX series, which will launch the AMD glove for laptop enthusiasts. thanks to the 8 + 8 configuration.
Intel Raptor Lake
In late 2022, the architecture of Raptor Lake will debut, which will be an optimized development of Alder Lake. It will be a big chip. LITTLE again, although according to current reports, the best chips can get up to 16 Gracemont cores. The main improvements to Raptor Cove will be quite minor, but they should provide an increase in IPC, higher clock speeds, and a better performance-to-power ratio. They will continue to be compatible with the LGA1700 base.
Interesting reports also concern the distant future. After 2022, Intel can compete with AMD much more effectively again, although it is actually more afraid of what Apple will do. According to their information, the desktop Mac Pro can be equipped with a processor with up to 32 efficient cores and 8 inexpensive cores, providing great performance for its platform. Nor should it be forgotten that Apple gets the best technology from TSMC first. The Cupertino giant’s ambitions are very great and in the future it may be a much more serious competition for both Intel and AMD. Without two sentences, the next two years promise to be very interesting in the personal computer market.
Source: Moore’s Law is Dead / VideoCardz