Monday, January 11th 2021

Intel 11th Gen Core "Rocket Lake-S" Processor Detailed Some More

Intel at a January 11, 2021 online media event (which we live-blogged here) revealed more information about its 11th Generation Core "Rocket Lake-S" desktop processor family. These chips succeed the 10th Gen Core "Comet Lake-S," and are built on the same Socket LGA1200 package, retaining backwards compatibility with Intel 400-series chipset motherboards with firmware updates; and native support with the upcoming Intel 500-series chipset motherboards. Intel in its media event confirmed that the top Core i9-11900K is an 8-core/16-thread processor, which will deliver the highest PC gaming performance possible when it comes out.

In its media event, Intel revealed a side-by-side comparison of the i9-11900K with a machine powered by the AMD Ryzen 9 5900X 12-core processor, where it's shown offering a mostly mid-single-digit-percentage performance lead over the AMD chip. In the "Metro Exodus" benchmark prominently highlighted in the Intel event, the i9-11900K is shown offering an average frame-rate of 156.54 FPS compared to 147.43 FPS of the 5900X (a 6.17% gain). VideoCardz tweeted a leaked Intel presentation slide with many more game test results where Intel compared the two chips. Intel's play with marketing "Rocket Lake-S" to gamers and PC enthusiasts will hence ride on the back of gaming performance leadership, and future-proofing against the new wave of productivity apps that leverage AI deep-learning, as "Rocket Lake-S" features DLBoost VNNI extensions that accelerate deep-learning neural-net building, training, and AI inference performance.
Intel's presentation also revealed the first die-shot of the "Rocket Lake-S" silicon, which reveals that it physically only features 8 CPU cores. The die appears visibly wide than that of an 8-core or 10-core "Comet Lake" or "Coffee Lake Refresh" dies; and slightly longer than the 8-core "Coffee Lake Refresh," which probably explains why Intel capped out at 8 cores with the LGA1200 package. The "Cypress Cove" CPU cores are visibly larger than "Skylake", bearing in mind that the "Rocket Lake-S" is built on existing 14 nm process, so it's possible to compare core sizes given the identical transistor densities. The cores feature larger caches, given that Intel has enlarged the dedicated L2 cache per core to 512 KB, up from 256 KB on "Skylake." The shared L3 cache is still 16 MB.
It's also worth noting that the uncore area of the die, which features its memory controllers and main PCIe switching fabric, is noticeably larger than that of "Skylake" thru "Comet Lake" dies. This is due to the switch to PCI-Express Gen 4.0, and the processor putting out 28 PCIe lanes as opposed to just 20 on the "Comet Lake-S." That's 16 lanes toward PEG, 4 toward a CPU-attached NVMe slot, and 8 toward the DMI chipset bus (compared to just 4 on the older platforms). The memory controllers could be largely unchanged since the platform features the same dual-channel DDR4 memory interface. Elsewhere across the die, we see the new Gen12 Xe-LP iGPU, which unless we're mistaken, is slightly smaller in area than the Gen9.5 iGPUs. This variant of the Iris Xe iGPU is much smaller (in functionality, not die-area) than the one you'd find in 11th Gen Core "Tiger Lake" mobile processors, as it features half the number of execution units (48, compared to 96 on the "Tiger Lake").
In its call, Intel still hasn't revealed availability of the 11th Gen Core "Rocket Lake-S," although several PC motherboard makers have gone on record to mention a "late March 2021" release.
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18 Comments on Intel 11th Gen Core "Rocket Lake-S" Processor Detailed Some More

#1
BArms
Intel still puts iGPUs into their higher end gaming SKUs... why? What good do they possibly serve? I'm convinced at this point that they're purely just marketing fluff, not for consumers but for for clueless product managers at systems integrators who when they decide between AMD or Intel, see the flashy iGPU numbers and decide to go with Intel because they think it has a feature that AMD Zen 3 lacks. Think about it, has anyone heard anyone complain that Zen 3 doesn't have an integrated GPU so far?

If Intel would ditch that useless die space taken up by their unnecessary iGPUs, maybe they could have more than 8 cores again. Even if those numbers are perfectly accurate, given what we know about how poorly multi threaded games currently are, who is going to give up 4 cores for 2-8% at 1080P, when at 4K those numbers will be much tighter and you'll also have 4 fewer cores for your entire system.
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#2
MxPhenom 216
ASIC Engineer
BArms
Intel still puts iGPUs into their higher end gaming SKUs... why? What good do they possibly serve? I'm convinced at this point that they're purely just marketing fluff, not for consumers but for for clueless product managers at systems integrators who when they decide between AMD or Intel, see the flashy iGPU numbers and decide to go with Intel because they think it has a feature that AMD Zen 3 lacks. Think about it, has anyone heard anyone complain that Zen 3 doesn't have an integrated GPU so far?

If Intel would ditch that useless die space taken up by their unnecessary iGPUs, maybe they could have more than 8 cores again.
Actually the iGPUs are pretty nice in Intel chips for a workstation PC where all you care about is CPU performance. Where as with AMD it all ends up being more expensive because you need a dedicated GPU with those, and really low end GPUs ($100 or cheaper) just dont even exist anymore.

Ive build a few rigs for people in the last year where they really dont need a GPU that will do much more than let them run multiple monitors and so I went with Intel 6 and 8 core CPUs.
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#3
BArms
MxPhenom 216
Actually the iGPUs are pretty nice in Intel chips for a workstation PC where all you care about is CPU performance. Where as with AMD it all ends up being more expensive because you need a dedicated GPU with those, and really low end GPUs ($100 or cheaper) just dont even exist anymore.

Ive build a few rigs for people in the last year where they really dont need a GPU that will do much more than let them run multiple monitors and so I went with Intel 6 and 8 core CPUs.
So have I, but I still ended up having to add on a cheap Quadro or Firepro card to support a 3rd monitor. I just don't think there are that many situations where they make enough sense to gimp the entire line of SKUs for the few use cases that need them.

Edit: I will admit, to Intel's credit, that I don't run a massive multi billion dollar company so their engineers probably know something I don't, but let's not overlook the fact that the only reason these are 8 core parts and not 12+ is that iGPU, which will be completely useless to a lot of readers here. And I can't remember the last time I saw a PC with a high end desktop CPU at Costco etc that didn't also have a Radeon or Geforce card.
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#4
Blue4130
"Intel in its media event confirmed that the top Core i9-11900K is an 8-core/16-thread processor, which will deliver the highest PC gaming performance possible when it comes out."

If this is Intel's wording, it makes me question the gains over both amd and previous Intel chips. Specifically the word" possible" instead of something like "ever" or "to date".

But I could also e reading too much into it. Time will tell.
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#5
R0H1T
MxPhenom 216
Actually the iGPUs are pretty nice in Intel chips for a workstation PC where all you care about is CPU performance.
No not really, for workstations an IGP is pretty much useless. As for GPU, I can easily get one for dedicated (video) output for less than $50 not to mention the IGP actually restricts the thermals of such a chip even if only marginally.
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#6
MxPhenom 216
ASIC Engineer
R0H1T
No not really, for workstations an IGP is pretty much useless. As for GPU, I can easily get one for dedicated (video) output for less than $50 not to mention the IGP actually restricts the thermals of such a chip even if only marginally.
I guess that depends on a workstation. For someone like my father who is a power systems manager and software developer on the side, all he needs is a system to compile code, etc and run a max of 2 monitors, one of which is a massive 34" ultrawide and he perfectly satisfied with the 6 Core intel chip and the iGPU.
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#7
R0H1T
That's true for the most part, horses for courses I guess but then you mentioned this part ~
MxPhenom 216
workstation PC where all you care about is CPU performance.
In that IMO the die space is wasted on the IGP, ideally I'd prefer the IGP to be always there (just as a failsafe) but not use any power or space :p
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#8
vedler
BArms
Edit: I will admit, to Intel's credit, that I don't run a massive multi billion dollar company so their engineers probably know something I don't, but let's not overlook the fact that the only reason these are 8 core parts and not 12+ is that iGPU, which will be completely useless to a lot of readers here. And I can't remember the last time I saw a PC with a high end desktop CPU at Costco etc that didn't also have a Radeon or Geforce card.
It's possible that its easier to manufacture the CPUs if they all follow similar specifications, including the presence of the iGPU. Time will tell if it's about cutting costs or if they are in the process upgrading rest of the production lines for something completely new.
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#9
R0H1T
That's true, a big reason why AMD has been so successful with Zen ~ they can just churn out a dozen different combinations with the chiplet design & a slightly tweaked I/O die.
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#10
BArms
The iGPU did make sense back with Sandy Bridge when NVENC wasn't a thing yet, and getting fast "good enough quality" video encoding was actually useful. I used it a few times but it was still pretty useless to me since I don't do much with video. Today though, if you're actually doing any kind of encoding you're probably using a dedicated GPU. Like most features, it started out being useful but Intel's Marketing team has held an iron grip over the engineering side it seems, because the feature is mostly useless at the high end, yet the marketing slides are pretending it's still 2011.
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#11
Chaitanya
Meh also new chipsets and motherboards for a deadend platform.
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#12
thesmokingman
Chaitanya
Meh also new chipsets and motherboards for a deadend platform.
It's ironic though, they finally put out a half decent chipset with more lanes than ever and it's too late lol.
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#13
Wirko
R0H1T
That's true, a big reason why AMD has been so successful with Zen ~ they can just churn out a dozen different combinations with the chiplet design & a slightly tweaked I/O die.
AMD could have included a very basic iGPU on their I/O die, without any 3D or video acceleretion. It would still be an useful addition for many users ... and yet, they didn't think of that.
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#14
AnarchoPrimitiv
Probably see a Zen3+/XT refresh released on a 7nm+ node that will neutralize this with a commiserate $50 (or more) drop in the current lineup, it makes perfect sense. When Zen3 was released, I was wondering why it was produced on the same exact 7nm node as Zen2 when there were better ones available, and it seems that the simple answer was because it didn't have to be produced on an improved 7nm node to beat intel. AMD could therefore charge more while maintaining the same exact costs and raise their profit margin. It would also allow them to have the option of dropping the $50 increase later to stay competitive (really loose nothing for all intents and purposes) and have the option of a 7nm+ node in their back pocket to edge intel out again with an XT refresh. I truly think this is going to happen.
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#15
Caring1
AnarchoPrimitiv
Probably see a Zen3+/XT refresh released on a 7nm+ node that will neutralize this with a commiserate $50 (or more) drop in the current lineup.....
Commensurate.
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#16
hojnikb
BArms
Intel still puts iGPUs into their higher end gaming SKUs... why? What good do they possibly serve? I'm convinced at this point that they're purely just marketing fluff, not for consumers but for for clueless product managers at systems integrators who when they decide between AMD or Intel, see the flashy iGPU numbers and decide to go with Intel because they think it has a feature that AMD Zen 3 lacks. Think about it, has anyone heard anyone complain that Zen 3 doesn't have an integrated GPU so far?

If Intel would ditch that useless die space taken up by their unnecessary iGPUs, maybe they could have more than 8 cores again. Even if those numbers are perfectly accurate, given what we know about how poorly multi threaded games currently are, who is going to give up 4 cores for 2-8% at 1080P, when at 4K those numbers will be much tighter and you'll also have 4 fewer cores for your entire system.
Because those dies will likely also end up in high end laptops, which need iGPUs.
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#17
Gruffalo.Soldier
I'm the only one
personally, i find the iGPU pretty useful. I destroyed a video card, and used the iGPU till i got another one. With AMD I would not have been able to use the PC at all. I have also used My dedicated GPU for games on my monitor, and had a film playing via the igpu on the big screen tv at the same time in the past.
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#18
RandallFlagg
My main concern is that they are comparing the 11900K to a 5900X. 5900X is a $550 CPU MSRP. Does this also mean the 11900K will be $550?

I would hope Intel would undercut that price point given the lower multi-core ability of 11900K vs 5900X. 8 cores is fine for gaming and the vast majority of users, but if a 12 core is at the same price with similar single thread performance and better multi-thread, it would be kind of a no-brainer to go for the 5900X.

OFC, if RKL is actually available, that's going to be a big win.
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